Eye-Opening Moments are real-life stories of adversity, encounters, and perspectives intertwined. In this episode you will hear about Cursed or Blessed and Can One Make a Difference?
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Hello and welcome to episode #60 of Eye-Opening Moments where you’ll hear real-life stories of adversity, encounters, and perspectives intertwined. They are moments that can lift your spirits, give you some food for thought, or move you. For the introspective mind that likes to reflect, discover, and find solutions or meaning in a complex life, this is for you. I’m your host Emily Kay Tan. In this episode, you will hear about Cursed or Blessed and Can One Make A Difference?
Cursed or Blessed
Keith, my first love, soulmate, and best friend, seemed like the ideal mate, but he wasn’t. He was one of those guys who did not like to commit to a relationship. Keith said he wanted to keep his options open. He was the kind that always thought the grass could be greener on the other side. Statements here and there suggested to me that he wanted an open relationship. It made me distrust him, and I’d break up with him.
He would always come back to me. Maybe he couldn’t find someone better, so he would return to me. And when he did, I would attempt to break up with him again. How could this on-again, off-again relationship go on for ten years?
He was always there for me if a problem or something troubled me. He was a good listener and offered valuable advice. I loved him for helping me solve my problems, supporting me, and hearing my voice.
Early in my teaching career, I worried that I was not doing a good job, and he’d tell me the importance of my job as a teacher, helping to make a difference for kids because I cared. He wasn’t just comforting me, but he also helped me see the bigger picture. He reminded me of my purpose and that all my efforts would pay off. His emotional support fulfilled me.
Though he was also my first lover, I don’t believe I was his as he was seven years older than me. This also caused me to distrust him. I was a teenager who dreamed of that one and only love. I was faithful to him, but I had the sneaking suspicion that he was not. Even though he had proposed to me several times, I didn’t see him most committed. Again, I’d break up with him. I am cursed because he kept coming back to me when I had already tossed him out.
Evan, one of my best friends during college, was a great friend who gave me lots of laughs. We had many lunches and dinners together on campus. He’d invite me to Hong Kong during the holidays because he was going and that was his home. Sometimes I would go because I didn’t want to go home. I didn’t come from a family I cared to spend time with, so going anywhere would be a great escape. After knowing Evan for three years, he proposed to me. I was shocked because I only saw him as a friend and didn’t have a certain feeling for him. I laughed uncontrollably loudly.
Evan had just graduated, and I was in my junior year of college. I transferred schools from the east coast to the west coast. Evan planned to visit me for a couple of weeks, but after hearing the response I gave him, he left to return to Hong Kong.
I felt terrible for Evan, but I was shocked and never saw it coming. I thought he was joking, but he said he was not kidding. I thought I would never see him again, but he kept in touch with me. For the next ten years, I saw him twice. Once, he was back in the USA and came to visit me. I was married then, and he still came to visit me. Later, my in-laws invited me to go to Hong Kong with them. I went with them while Hubby stayed behind, I told Hubby about Evan, and he had no worries. I met up with Evan for a day and had a fantastic time, like old buddies. We ate, shopped, walked around, and chatted like old times.
Another twenty years would go by, and we would meet again. I was living on an island nation, and he came to visit me. This was always a great friendship, but I say I am cursed because even though I did not feel the same way he did, and he knew it, he kept holding a torch for me. Worse, he’d ask me to marry him a few more times through the years before I got married, and the answer was still no, so why did he keep trying? I must be cursed!
Teo, introduced to me by my friend and co-worker Selina, was a whirlwind romance. After knowing him for only three months, he proposed to me. I said I didn’t know him very well yet, but he was ready. He told his relatives about me, and they decided I was not the right girl for him because I did not live with my parents. In his traditional Asian culture, I was supposed to live with my parents until I married. Because of that, we parted ways, and that was not a problem for me because I did not consider us in a serious relationship, and I didn’t want someone who would let others decide his future.
Nine months later, Teo came back to me and said he still wanted to marry me despite family objections. I did not expect to see him again, and here he was, knocking on my door. I said no to his proposal once more. Why did he come back after nine months?! I am cursed!
Anson, the man I married, was most agreeable before we married. He treated me like a priority and agreed to anything I wanted to do. He was a family man with a stable career. He seemed like an all-around nice guy, but after we got married, he turned into a beast with an explosive temper. He was anal and controlling. He was not like that before marriage. Living with Anson was like living in a minefield; you never know when you might step on one and it would explode. After trying different ways to make it work and seeking his family’s help to better deal with him, I decided to divorce him.
I thought I would never see him after our divorce. There was no need. He insisted on getting my phone number; if I didn’t, he said he would show up at my doorstep. Another thing he insisted on knowing. Finally, I gave him my phone number, and I got a phone with a caller ID on it, so I would not answer when he called. For two years, he would call, and I would not answer. He came to my door a few times, but I did not answer the door. When will he give up and disappear from my life? By this time, I believed I was truly cursed.
Devin, a man I met when I was in business, was a charismatic and generous man. We got along so well that we hardly ever fought. It would quickly turn into laughter when we disagreed, and we’d drop the disagreement. We had a lot in common and lots to chat about. We had a lot of chemistry together and saw each other nearly daily. He wasn’t a family man; business was his priority, and I understood it to a point since I was also in a network marketing business with him. He asked me to marry him, but it was brought to a halt before that could happen.
I discovered Devin cheated on me, and we broke up. He decided he would move on to the next woman, and I thought I’d never have anything to do with him again. I was not going to forgive him at that time. I changed my phone number and moved on with life. And then, I saw Devin trying to connect with me through social media. I was flabbergasted and disgusted. Why would he want to communicate with me when he moved on to the next woman? I am cursed; I am cursed with men I break up with, and they keep trying to come back to me! And Devin broke up with me, so why did he want to come back to me?! Why am I cursed?
I broke up with Keith. I was never in love with Evan or Teo. Anson was a nightmare of a husband. And Devin cheated on me. I left them all. Why did they all keep trying to come back to me? Because it would happen repeatedly, I thought I was cursed with boyfriends who would come back to me after breakups or rejections of proposals. It was like a pattern that would not cease to exist.
Keith will always have a special place in my heart because he still understands me more than anyone else, but I couldn’t live with his noncommittal ways. It made him unreliable and not trustworthy to me. And trust and dependability were crucial to me.
Evan will always give me happy memories when I reminisce. He was a great friend, but I could never feel anything more; there was no chemistry. I suppose chemistry is essential because I could never find my way to falling in love with him.
Teo was that whirlwind romance I never thought could happen to me. I don’t think we ever developed a deep connection and understanding. And I desperately wanted that. I had that with Keith and Evan, but that was not enough.
Anson was the one I married. He gave me the trust and dependability I couldn’t get from Keith. I had no chemistry with Anson, and he didn’t understand me deeply; he wasn’t one of my best friends like Keith or Evan. I wanted a best friend in a husband, and I wanted chemistry, too. I knew they were missing, but I married him, figuring that you can’t have everything.
Devin was the one who turned my life upside down. He called me his best friend. I was ready to marry him, but many obstacles were on the road. Like Keith, he wasn’t trustworthy or dependable. Like Keith, we had a lot of chemistry and were good friends. It all ended with him cheating on me; it was the ultimate betrayal of trust, and trust was essential to me.
Having a best friend with whom we can talk about anything is most important to me. Trust, chemistry, and reliability are also essential. Have I found them all in one person? NO. I suspect one does not necessarily need to find all of what we want in any person. No one is perfect. Sometimes it is how aspects of a person combine to make it right. I am optimistic about finding the right combination.
Though each breakup did not end well with boyfriends who kept trying to come back into my life, I now see another possibility for why they did what they did. They were not trying to torture me. They loved me and wanted me back. Even though I rejected them over and over, they still tried to get back into my life. I try to put my feet in their shoes and find that it shouldn’t be any fun getting rejected, but I must give them all a medal for trying to win me back. Comforting is to know that I was loved. They may not have all loved me the way I needed, but I was loved. I wasn’t cursed; I was blessed to be loved.
Can One Make A Difference?
Having taught hundreds of students over several decades, I never thought I made much of a difference. Many colleagues, parents, and administrators have told me I have made a tremendous impact on students and other teachers, but I still didn’t agree. Strangely, after reading a short story about a child picking up starfish on the beach, my perception finally shifted.
Teaching an average of thirty children each year was enjoyable for the most part. Though I worked hard to produce many students who demonstrated academic excellence, I wouldn’t call it making a difference. I have helped many people do one thing or another. I call that helping those in need or just lending a helping hand. It was nothing to brag about to anyone.
My heart yearned to do something that would make a difference for others. It was always in the back of my mind. All my attempts didn’t seem good enough or big enough to me. I wanted to do more. Affecting hundreds of people was not enough for me. I wanted to influence thousands and thousands of people. Doing that may be enough to call me a person who made a difference for others. That was what I thought until I read the story about a boy at the beach.
A little boy saw hundreds of starfish wash up on the beach. If the starfish did not return to the ocean soon, they would die. The little boy saw the many starfish lying there helpless and started picking up one starfish at a time in his little hands to put them back in the water. His father was a distance away, and he did not call him for help. He did not ignore what he saw, nor did he have the attitude that he couldn’t do anything about it. He was just a little boy, but he instinctively knew he had to do something to save the starfish. With his little hand, he kept picking up one starfish at a time to put them back into the ocean.
I pictured the little hand that could only hold one starfish at a time. Seeing that the boy was only one human being with a tiny hand to hold a starfish, it didn’t look like he could save all the starfish on the beach. He wouldn’t be able to do it fast enough. I could say, why bother, or who cares? But with that attitude, none of the starfish would be saved.
The little boy could have asked for help. Maybe he didn’t know any better and didn’t have the concept of teamwork yet. However, he had the sense to take action and do whatever he could to save the starfish. Be it a few or many, any life is worth saving.
Perhaps it was me visualizing the little hand that the story caught my attention. Maybe it was a little boy doing something to make a difference that captivated my heart. If a little boy can make a difference, I can, too. Why did making a difference require thousands? The numbers were how I determined if I made any difference. It left me unsatisfied and discontent with my efforts.
Remembering the tiny hand that picked up one starfish after another, I remind myself that it’s like taking one step at a time to get things done. Small or big, it is still taking action. And actions can increase or expand to make a difference.
Slowly I began to think of what I had done to make an impact on others. Okay, I will count the number of people I have helped in education. I will also count those in financial services since I also worked there. Together, they add up to hundreds and hundreds.
One of my cousins started a career in trading stocks and real estate because I influenced him through our stint in business together. One of my best friends started a career in real estate because I also influenced her when we were in business together. I never thought much about it, but making a difference for one person or one person at a time does matter. I could say it is only one person, but every individual is valuable. My cousin had a job he didn’t like much, but I made a difference for him because I helped him find something he enjoyed doing. I told my friend I thought she had the personality to do real estate; she tried it and liked it. I never thought my sharing could change two careers!
Helping one person does matter; each human does matter. So, I shall continue to help individuals knowing that it does make a difference. Still, I want to make a difference for thousands, and I have found a way! Starting with one story, I write and share one story after another. The stories compile to make books, which thousands can access on the world wide web. My stories of adversity, encounters, and perspectives with insights and lessons learned can give thousands hope and inspiration when they listen to them through my podcast!
Can one person make a difference? Yes. If you hesitate to say yes, remember the little boy on the beach who picked up one starfish after another to save one life after another.
Key Takeaways: Though I thought I was cursed because old boyfriends would come back to me after a breakup, I tried on new lenses that had me see that I was much loved.
Though I thought I did not make much of a difference to others, I realized that I was still making a difference no matter how many people it was.
Next week, you will hear two new real-life stories called The Ugly Truth about Two Nice Guys and Beds I’ve Slept On. If you enjoyed this episode of Eye-Opening Moments, please share it with others, subscribe, support the show by clicking on the link in the description, or go to www.inspiremereads.com and leave a message. Thank you for listening!