Eye-Opening Moments are real-life stories of adversity, encounters, and perspectives intertwined. In this episode you will hear about My Invisible Wall and Money Hater.Support the show
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Hello and welcome to episode #76 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 My Invisible Wall and Money Hater.
My Invisible Wall
You can't see it, but it is there. I feel its presence protecting me. It is so thin that you cannot detect it from the outside. From the inside, I sense its flexibility in movement and strength, covering my insides. It protects me from being vulnerable, from being attacked by others, or from getting hurt by others. As much as it shields me, it is not 100% foolproof because I can still get hurt. Physical pain is not a significant bother; the skin will heal itself. However, emotional pain seems to take an eternity to recover. That is the reason the invisible wall exists.
As my quiet self walks by you, my invisible wall says, "Don't mess with me; don't give me trouble, and leave me alone." As quiet as I am, I do not escape notice. Someone will call me for help or do something. Often, someone will fabricate a story about me and share it with others. For example, when my students behave, others would make up the story that I threaten my students into behaving well. The reality was more like I am an experienced teacher who has a way of making students behave without threats. It baffles me how others could have so much to say about a quiet person who minds her own business. While the wall does keep most people at bay, people still try to look through the wall. It's probably intrigue and curiosity that bring spectators to take a look. It bothered me for a long time, but with a change in perspective, it now amuses me that I could be so interesting to others!
My invisible wall shows my exterior. Some say I am stoic. That is perhaps what appears to be so. Little do some know that I am full of many emotions behind the wall. I am a human being that does have feelings and is sensitive. There would not be an invisible wall if I weren't so sensitive. Maybe I also look stoic because I don't want you to know my feelings. I don't want you to have a chance to attack and hurt my feelings, so I look like I have no feelings!
Others say I am shy or quiet and not talkative. Little do others know that I have a lot to say behind the wall. I am very talkative. If I didn't have much to say, I wouldn't be a writer and a podcaster. You still can't get past my wall because you don't know that it is me behind the audio of my podcast and the written words of my books. I don't want to give you a chance to strike and hurt me with your opinions or judgments!
What does the invisible wall do for me? It is supposed to protect me from others who could hurt me. It is supposed to prevent others from seeing my vulnerabilities. While it may do the job, it doesn't always do an excellent job because it is not bulletproof.
Often, it does keep people away. People see me and feel scared. They are so afraid that they don't speak to me; they dare not cross or disobey my requests. My wall and my appearance have served me well many times. Children and adults would listen to my requests or commands and do as I demand. Some think I have the magic touch, but it is my wall, my look doing the work.
I used to think this was a terrible part of me because it did not shed a positive light on me and limited the number of people in my life. As a mature woman, I have begun to see it differently. Before my middle age, my view was that it might be true that I limited who was around me, and I gave myself a negative image. The mature woman that I now am has taken on a new perspective. I can keep out the people who could harm me or those who would not positively contribute to my life. I can choose when to use my scary look and when to set it aside. This discovery has given me joy and freedom.
Now the wall that seemed to be there 24/7 automatically could be controlled. It could go up when necessary and go down when not needed. It's like when the skunk senses danger, it will lift its tail to give off a smelly odor; when it does not sense any danger, its tail will go down without an odor. The ability and power to do that are freeing!
Though the wall sometimes protects me, it does not do a satisfactory job at other times. It does not always protect me from others who could hurt me. Some don't even see me as scary! I say I must have lost my touch to scare others. I say I must have let down my guard to let others hurt me. Did I let down my wall and not put it back up in time? I do not know the answer. However, I see that the wall serves me most of the time.
What happens when I let down the wall? I let it down more often now because now I am less concerned about getting hurt by others, getting seen by others, or being vulnerable. Perhaps I am just tired of holding up the wall, too! As a teacher, I command, teach and produce academic excellence and well-behaved students. I am to be proud of it, not belittled or mocked for it by others. I disregard their snickers. As an adult outside work, I ask for what I want or need and proceed to do what I need to solve problems. I am proud of it and disregard the jealousy or envy of others who can't stand it.
Discovering myself to be less concerned, I found it came from having more self-confidence in myself. With more self-confidence, I feel I acknowledge the power I have in my hands rather than unconsciously giving it away to others as if I had no say about it. I also realized my self-worth comes from me and not the opinions of others. After all, I am the one who lives in my shoes and faces myself every day. The only idea that matters is the one that will help me and help all those around me.
Another perspective to see is that showing vulnerability is not altogether a bad thing. By voluntarily sharing my vulnerabilities, I have found surprising results. I unexpectedly connect with others and include more people in my life because I show that I am human, just like others with feelings, emotions, and thoughts. I thought I was alone, for example, in feeling abandoned, rejected, unwanted, and unloved, but I am not.
Knowing that I have a say and a choice about having an invisible wall or being wall free, I own the power. I am not a victim of it.
How could anyone hate money? You could buy so many things with money. Having money could solve so many problems. People have fought and killed for money. Money is a symbol of status; money is power. Even though I knew that, I still hated money. While I now appreciate what money can do for me, I have also come to know that there are other valuable treasures.
It all started when I returned to live with my parents when I was fourteen. Mom had sent me to live with Grandma Sandy when I was five, and then when I was fourteen, Grandma decided that I should enjoy the new home my parents purchased. I suppose they were poor when I was a toddler, and Mom was overwhelmed with three kids when she was a teenager. Now Mom was older with a total of six kids, and Dad had worked hard to afford a nice house in the suburbs. Grandma thought I should enjoy their newfound wealth like my other siblings, so she sent me home.
No one expected that it would be like a culture shock for me. Living with Grandma, I learned the value of hard work, saving for a rainy day, and counting my blessings. I learned that when there were problems, verbal communication was needed. Nagging and lecturing were Grandma’s way of helping me to learn, grow, and develop. I hated her nagging about the same old things like keeping the house clean and being a good little girl. I didn’t think there could be something more annoying than that at home, but there came to be something far worse.
After moving back to live with my parents, I was already a teenager. I was still at an impressionable age, and I came to hate money because of Mom. She used money to show that she had come a long way since the days of being a new immigrant to the USA. Mom and Dad had a big house with four bedrooms, a large front and backyard, two cars, and soon a BMW for my older sister when she turned sixteen. She was showing it off and flaunting it. Worse than that, Mom frequently dolled herself up to look good for all to see with her make-up and beautiful dresses. How did she impress others when she had few skills and no career, I thought. More horrible things were on the way.
Mom had sent me away when I was five. When I returned, she sent my youngest sister to Grandma’s house (out of state). Now she was sending my younger sister away to boarding school. She could never keep all six of us together; it was a rarity. Grandma had six kids, too, but she always had her kids together until they got married, so it was puzzling to me why one kid after another was sent away. I later learned that Mom just didn’t know how to be a mom, so she solved her problems by getting rid of them.
One of my biggest culture shocks was how Mom used money to solve other problems. If one of us got mad about something or wasn’t happy with one thing or another, she went out and bought something to fix the problem. I was unhappy about something, so she bought me a blow dryer. My older sister did not like the music I was listening to in the living room, so Mom got me a portable record player in my bedroom so my older sister didn’t need to endure the foreign music I enjoyed. How did that fix everything? Grandma would never do that. Of course, she was poor and didn’t have the money to do it, but still. Why couldn’t communication be the way to solve a problem first? I hated how Mom used money to solve problems; I didn’t think it solved any issue. At most, it would solve problems for a few minutes until the newness of a gift faded. I quickly hated money for the coldness that it brought to a house full of kids. We didn’t have a warm and loving family. It looked good on the outside, but it was only a façade. Though Grandma’s family was poor, it was warm and caring. I felt sad and left out when I didn’t live with my parents, but now I wish I was living with Grandma. At least Grandma gave me love and care instead of some material thing. She gave me things money could not buy, bringing me a warm and fuzzy feeling.
Mom’s way of using money to show life status and solve even the smallest problems made me hate money. Using money to solve our problems did not solve our problems. Maybe if it worked, I might have liked money more. Her use of cash to buy make-up, clothes, and cosmetic surgery to make herself look better only made me think of her as a shell of a person. Her exterior beauty did not match her interiors. She looked beautiful, but where was her heart to love her children? Where was her brain to do something more meaningful in this world? Her use of money only left me with a residual sour taste on my tongue.
Grandma’s way of using money made me appreciate it. Grandma was a poor immigrant working in a garment factory. She was not paid well, but she worked hard, brought work home, and saved money to get everyone something for their birthday. I noticed that birthdays were important to Grandma, and although she didn’t have much dough, she always had money for everyone’s birthday. She also saved money for the holidays, especially Christmas. There were eight of us in the house, and she always had seven presents under the tree. I didn’t have money to buy her any gifts, so I always made something for her. Because I lacked money, I got creative to make things. Grandma seemed overjoyed when she received my gifts. Maybe she knew it was from my heart. Grandma’s smiles let me know that there were things more valuable than what money could buy.
Like Mom, I used money to buy a house and car. Those were things nice to have, but they did not warm my heart. When I eventually sold them, I realized I was disheartened because I had allowed them to represent my advancement in life. Sure, it was financial progress, but it was not necessarily progressing in character-building.
Like Grandma, I used money to save for a rainy day. Dire emergencies did come up in life, and I had to use my emergency funds. I must thank Grandma for helping me develop the habit through her example. I also bought generous gifts for significant people in my life for their birthdays to show that they were important to me. I must have learned it from Grandma.
A few enduring habits I picked up from being with Grandma remain with me. More than anything, I often make, design, or create something unique to give as a gift to someone. Doing that used to be because I had little money, but now I have some money, so why do I keep doing it? I enjoy seeing the smiles like the smiles I used to see on Grandma’s face when I gave her gifts. The joy it gives them is priceless. Though money could buy so many things, money cannot buy the happiness I find in giving joy to others in a memorable way.
I once hated money because of Mom, but I have gained perspectives on how we can use money. What matters is not how much money we have but how we choose to spend how much we have. It is important how we use it and how it can benefit others. I have never made millions or billions and may never know how it feels to have that much money. However, I know there are many precious things money cannot buy, such as bringing smiles, joy, peace, love, and freedom to oneself or others.
Key Takeaways: Though I carried an invisible wall to protect me for the greater part of my life, I've learned I can control it. Put it up when needed and put it down when appropriate.
Though I hated money because of my mom, I've learned that what is important is how we choose to spend it and how it may affect others.
Next week, you will hear two new real-life stories called Ex-Mother-In-Law and He Thought He Knew. 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!