Eye-Opening Moments are real-life stories of adversity, encounters, and perspectives intertwined. In this episode you will hear about The Invisible Garbage I Carry and The Worry Bug.
Comments or questions are welcomed on Twitter @emilykaytan OR on https://inspiremereads.com.
Hello and welcome to episode #62 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 The Invisible Garbage I Carry and The Worry Bug.
The Invisible Garbage I Carry
Spring cleaning could be a time when we realize how many unnecessary or useless things we keep. Sentimental gifts are hard to toss when the people who gave them to you matter to you. Pictures are hard to throw away because they are your only tangible pieces of times long gone. However, you could easily dump some things, such as broken and useless things. Whatever we have contained in the house, there is always some garbage. There is always something we don’t need, have forgotten about, or only serve to hog up space. We could easily dump material or solid things if we take the time. But we can see, feel, and think more with empty space.
Having experienced the hassles of moving many times, I have fewer and fewer things. But I still carry a load of garbage wherever I go. Many days it feels heavy, burdensome, and stressful. Even with less physical junk, I could still feel the weight of the invisible rubbish I carry. No matter how clean and tidy I make my home free of clutter, I find my mind full of chaos. The multitude of things stashed and tangled up in my brain need to be unraveled and discarded!
The animosity or hate I feel toward certain people squishes and squeezes my brain, causing tension. Every time I see Trish, a co-worker, I fume. I want to say, “Don’t you know how sophomoric, idiotic, and immature you are? Wake up and shape up! Please stay away from me; don’t breathe the same air near me!” I want to run and hide when I hear Amy, another co-worker’s voice, down the hall. My inner voice says, “I hate what you have done to me; you have betrayed and embarrassed me. You’ve made it hard for me to face all my colleagues daily; you’ve made my work life a living hell.” Though I could call my feelings of hatred justified, they only serve to make me moody, short-tempered, and unhappy at work. I need to throw this piece of garbage away. It’s garbage that is hurting my happiness.
Feeling unwanted and unloved began when I was five. I told myself that Mom sent me to live with Grandma because she didn’t want or love me. Whether it was fact or fiction, I deemed it a reality. And so I kept many people at arm’s length, never wanting or loving too much. It was to my detriment to become a loner. Mom’s decision and action also led me to feelings of abandonment. The trauma of being tossed left me to unknowingly also abandon any boyfriends or friends I had before they had a chance to leave me. It was my way of protecting myself from further abandonment. But I could have lost out on potentially good relationships. Though I did what I could to defend myself, I could have lost more than I had gained. I need to hurl into space my garbage of a story. It has negatively affected all my relationships.
I was not always a straight-A student. Grandma told me I was stupid. Grandpa let me know anything less than straight A’s was unacceptable. It propelled me to work hard to improve in school and achieve more, but I believed Grandma’s words and Grandpa’s attitude. No matter how much I accomplished, I never thought I was good enough or smart enough. I need to cast those ideas into an incinerator. It has impacted my self-esteem for no good.
My boyfriend cheated on me and broke the promises he professed. Devastated and shocked by the betrayal, I moved like a zombie or robot for months. I was breathing, but my spirit was dead. I knew not what to do or how to handle it, other than exercising and singing every day so I would not go berserk. Though I came out alive and sane, I had not forgiven. My inability to forgive gave way to a continuous self-induced punishment of myself. This garbage I carried did not allow for any new relationship to enter after the breakup. I need to stop torturing myself and making myself suffer. Let me swing and fling away the inability to forgive. It has kept me wounded and unable to heal from the pain.
The weight of the invisible garbage has gotten heavier and heavier and harder to bear each year because I didn’t dispose of them. I didn’t know I was carrying it with me no matter where I went. I should have known from the many frowns on my face, but I was clueless. After living for a quarter of a century, I began to feel the weight lighten. Feeling less pressure squashing me down, I began to see some life situations through different lenses. It all came about when I took a personal development course and eye-opening moments came to me.
Through an activity of repeating my story of how Mom tossed me at age five until I was exhausted to voice the story any longer, I realized it was a story I created as a truth. And because I did, I lived like I was unwanted and unloved. No doubt, I lived a mostly unhappy life. Since I knew I had created that perspective of a story that didn’t help me feel better, I discovered I had the power to change the story into a story that would help me feel better about my life. Mom sent me to live with Grandma; that’s a fact. I was fortunate to live with Grandma because she gave me love and care. Had I lived with my parents, I wouldn’t have gotten that. This new story makes me feel lucky and good. At last, I threw away the debilitating garbage of a story that gave me a miserable life.
The boyfriend who cheated on me broke my heart: I made him wrong, and I made myself wrong for ever getting into a relationship with him. I couldn’t forgive him. I just wanted to run away and crawl into a hole. I escaped to an island nation and worked there for some years. Occasionally, he would show up in my dreams, and I realized I was still not over it. After ten years of escape and annual dreams of him, I decided enough was enough. I took another personal development class. Hearing another person share their pain, the instructor said, “How long are you going to keep punishing yourself?” Ouch! An aha moment came to me.
As long as I didn’t forgive, I punished and tortured myself. I don’t want to be doing that to myself! Luckily, I figured out how to forgive. Just declare aloud. Out of my mouth, I announced, “I forgive him, and I forgive myself.” To my great surprise, a heavy boulder disappeared from the back of my head, shoulders, and back. A smile appeared on my face, and the constant tension above my ears disappeared. It was a miracle. How could I have carried that piece of garbage for ten years? If I knew how to dispose of it in only seconds, I could have done it long ago without suffering for ten years! Finally, I rid the piece of rubbish called unforgiveness or the ex-boyfriend who was unforgivable.
Growing up feeling stupid because Grandma said I was stupid, I acted like I was stupid. Even though many co-workers and friends would say I was smart, I never believed them. I would never claim that label or acknowledge it from others. It was good that it kept me working hard, but it was not good for my self-esteem. As I put my thoughts and feelings in print, an aha moment came. Because I believed my grandparents’ negative comments, I lived as if I was stupid. Now, what if I put on a different set of lenses? With new lenses, I could see that I am smart. Look how I overcame numerous challenges! Look how I got several degrees and financed them all myself! I needed brains to have the creativity to solve all my problems. I am smart. And so, it shall be said, and so it shall be done. I declare I am smart!
At last, I burned the piece of garbage that said I was stupid. By getting rid of some invisible garbage, life smells and feels better. I was tossing, throwing away, dumping, discarding, hurling, casting away, disposing of, and incinerating trash. It felt like breaking from the chains or locks of prison I had inflicted upon myself. Beware of the garbage you carry and what it can do to you. Be aware that you can do something about it!
The Worry Bug
I worried if I would ever get enough money to go to college. I worried about my grades and if they were good enough to get into college. I worried about life after college. I worried about having enough money to survive. I worried if I could do a good job. I worried if I could juggle work and graduate school at the same time. I worried about getting pregnant and being unable to bear the excruciating pain of childbirth. I worried if I would ever get married. I worried if I could juggle having kids and a career. I seemed to worry about everything and did everything I could to plan and map out my life to have the results I wanted. I was a worry bug until one day, something happened, and I abruptly stopped cold turkey. I was never to be the worry bug I was before.
I had a boyfriend that I had known for nearly ten years. When he cheated on me, I was shocked and seemed to remain in a state of shock for months. The present life I had suddenly disappeared because he was a significant part of my life. The future I thought I would have included him. All at once, my present and future blanked out on me. It was white and empty. The past was never anything I enjoyed looking back to recall. I was left with a blank slate. All the present and future were erased from my plans. With no plans, there was nothing to worry about!
I couldn't worry about anything because I was empty. It was like being in a haze or a fog. I couldn't see anything. Fortunately, I had enough sense to move on with my life somehow. I moved abroad to live and work and start a new life.
Upon arrival, I was busy with a new job, new friends, and a new environment. Everything was new, and I engrossed myself in my new surroundings. Feeling free in unfamiliar territory that gave me no reminders of my ex, I was happy. When I boarded the plane, I left my past behind. When I arrived, I lived in the moment. I stopped planning my future. I learned my lesson. Too many plans I made did not result in what I wanted. Life, other people, and obstacles sabotaged my goals often enough. Perhaps I wanted control, which is why I used to plan so much. But I found that there are things I have no control over, no matter how much I wanted to have the power. I stopped planning. No more ten-year, five-year, one-year, or even one-month planning anymore. I am down to one week of planning most of the time. And even that changes!
With minimal planning, I discovered a lot fewer worries in my life. With fewer worries, my head became less strained. My heart was less heavy, and my mind was less cluttered. Feeling lighter, I also felt freer. It was as if my worry bug had chained and tied me down, limiting my mobility physically and emotionally. When I stopped worrying, it was like fresh air entered me and revitalized the core of my being. I became carefree and worry-free. I had never experienced a worry-free life before I arrived on a faraway island to begin a new life.
Like a prisoner set free after several decades, the worry-free me joyfully lived in the present. I explored the world with curiosity like a child. I traveled to many new places without fear. I met many new people without hesitation. The world became a fascinating place to enjoy, appreciate, learn, and grow. Maybe I was born again because living in the present, and living worry-free was paradise for me.
After some years, I returned home. Memories of the devastating breakup came rushing in. Memories of losing my home and failure in business crashed on me like a tsunami about to drown me. My mind did not want to return to the past. Going backward was not progress for me. I began to worry that I would run into my ex-boyfriend. I worried that I would run into ex-business associates. I was disheartened to see the house I had lost. My heart dropped below my chest. I moved into an apartment. It was like another walk backward. I went back to my previous job, which was another step backward. I worried that I was not progressing in life. I worried that I could get into a car accident if my mind was too busy worrying. The worry bug came back, and I didn't like it one bit.
I had experienced a worry-free life for years and enjoyed the freedom and happiness it brought me. I did not want a life full of worries and planning anymore. After a few years, I decided to move abroad once more. I always loved going to unfamiliar places to begin anew. This time it was not an escape from the devastation previously experienced. This time it was a choice I wanted. I hungered for adventure. And I know the difference between how it feels to be worry-free and full of worries. I can choose how I feel inside, no matter the situation or the place.
Though I am not 100% worry-free, I can now quickly catch myself when I get into that state. I will recognize it and tell myself to stop worrying because it does me no good. It doesn't help me feel good, and it doesn't solve anything. Either I solve the problem that I am worried about or let it go. I must do one or the other, or I will again be shackled, and I would have done it to myself. Worrying is too often about something that hasn't happened or doesn't exist. Reminding myself of this point, I also remind myself to live more in the present. Freedom is too valuable not to appreciate. A carefree and worry-free life is too precious not to grab hold of when you do have the power to have it in your hands. Don't let the worry bug catch you; when you see it coming, squash it and live in the now.
Key Takeaways: Though I unknowingly carried a lot of invisible garbage with me wherever I went, I realized it and began unloading the heavy burden.
Though I planned and worried about many things, I got to experience a worry-free life when my future went blank; I didn’t like the past, had nowhere else to run, and got trapped in the present.
Next week, you will hear two new real-life stories called From Losing to Gaining Everything and Why Stop and Smell the Roses. 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!