Eye-Opening Moments are real-life stories of adversity, encounters, and perspectives intertwined. In this episode you will hear about A Heartless Man and The Warm Ice Cream.Support the show
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Hello and welcome to episode #81 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 A Heartless Man and The Warm Ice Cream.
A Heartless Man
The car was more essential than my life. The smudge on the doorknob was more of substance than my love for him. The sink mattered more than my finger. Material things were more important to him than my feelings or well-being to him. Did I marry a human or a heartless man?
Driving on the road, I stopped my car next to an island to wait for other vehicles in the opposite direction to pass before crossing over to the other side. I suppose the guy behind me was impatient or neglected to realize I was in front of him, and he lunged forward to bump into my car.
My car thrust forward and halted. Shocked, I called my husband to help me deal with this matter. Inexperienced with accidents, I didn't know what to do. Luckily, my husband quickly arrived. Unbeknownst to me, instead of rescuing me from such calamity, he created greater distress for me. Instead of comforting me, he exacerbated the problem.
Upon arrival, my husband immediately surveyed my car to find that the guy who rear-ended me had ripped off a chunk of the rubber in the back bumper. Hubby frantically searched the area for the piece of the ripped bumper. He couldn't find it. He never asked if I was okay and started screaming at me for losing a portion of the bumper and not looking for it. Standing by the island on the road, he shouted at me while still looking around in desperation for the missing bumper piece. He said that he would need to buy an entirely new bumper if we didn't find the bumper piece to glue back on. He would not stop screaming at me for nearly an hour.
My neck was aching, but I was emotionally and mentally in more pain from his screams than anything. My head tightened, my heart felt his sharp, stabbing words that humiliated me, and my brain wondered why the bumper piece was more important than me. Didn't he know I was a human being with feelings and would have appreciated a little comfort after a car accident?
Things got worse, and the police came. Apparently, someone across the street from a six-story building with a large parking lot in front of it heard my horrible hubby's screams and called the police. That was how loud he was screaming at me on the street; people in a building could hear it from far back from a parking lot. As it turned out, the policeman momentarily stopped the throbbing pain in my heart when he arrived because his presence halted my horrible hubby's screams.
The policeman informed us that someone from the building across the street had called him because they heard the raging screams. He gently asked if I was okay from the accident. He softly asked if I needed a ride somewhere to be safe or if I was willing to go home with my husband. I didn't say anything, so he asked again in the gentlest manner. The policeman's voice comforted me. My husband's shouting voice only caused me great distress. I was grateful that the policeman's presence stopped the screams, but I was also embarrassed for the monster of a husband I had. Unfortunately, I went home with my husband and didn't know better than to divorce him for such emotional abuse.
My husband's brother bought a house, and we were preparing for the housewarming. I had told my husband to get a gift for his brother. He reluctantly bought something, and it was a cheap plastic party tray. I said we should wrap the present, and he disgruntledly said okay. I proceeded to go into the garage, where we stored infrequently used items. I got wrapping paper to wrap the gift and came back into the house through the garage door. Next, I wrapped the present on the dining room table. Without notice, my husband came screaming at me, "What did you do? There are red smudges on the garage doorknob." I went to look and surmised that the coloring on the wrapping paper went from my hand to the doorknob. The doorknob was of a dull gold color, and a hint of red was all over it. Horrible hubby was furious. He screamed at me for not noticing that the wrapping paper bled red dye. He yelled at me for not seeing that I got it on the doorknob. He reprimanded me for not being observant enough to see it. He was relentless in scolding me for over an hour.
It didn't matter what I said; he continued his screams. It didn't matter that I fell silent; he proceeded with his shouting. My apologies didn't count either. My head kept asking what would make him stop with the screams. Why was he so enraged? I cleaned the smudges off the old doorknob; I fixed the problem. Why did he need to persist with hollering at me for nearly two hours?
Fortunately, there was a knock on the door, and it was my mother-in-law. My horrible hubby stopped his screaming. I learned that only his mother could shut his mouth. I was amazed. Her eyes, her presence, shut him down. His mouth would quiver, wanting to explain or defend himself, but he knew his mother would not hear it.
Mom-in-law simply asked if we were ready to go to hubby's brother's new house. I told her I had just finished wrapping a gift. Trembling a bit, I told her that the red dye on the wrapping paper got onto my hands and the garage doorknob, so hubby was yelling at me about it. I knew she heard the yelling through our house's thick wooden entrance door. Mom-in-law turned to him and said, "Get ready." She turned to me and said, "Are you okay?"
Hubby went to get dressed to go to his brother's house. Shaken after listening to two hours of screams, I didn't know how many more instances of his raging temper I could bear. How could I live this way for the rest of my life? How could I ever prepare myself for the outbursts when I didn't know what would trigger them? I might as well have been living in a minefield. One wrong step and I would step on his explosive temper. How could I endure him demeaning me time and time again? How could he get so angry over smudges on an old doorknob? I struggled to understand and couldn't comprehend how he could get so angry to scream for two hours about it. The ugly, discomforting D word popped into my head: Divorce.
I needed to assess how I was going to survive this marriage. My usual response was endurance, but I seriously didn't know how long I could continue tolerating it. I decided to attend to my needs for some space instead of showing up to hubby's brother's housewarming. I grabbed my purse and keys and drove off alone. Not knowing where to go, I drove aimlessly and stopped by the waterfront. Sitting in my car, I pondered, but my mind went blank. I had no answer as to how I would live through this marriage. I could only think about what else I could do to improve it. Unfortunately, I believed in working on a marriage, for better or worse, and didn't divorce him.
That stupid toothbrush I tried to glue back together with superglue caused me enormous distress. It triggered my hubby's horrific temper. Why didn't I just throw it out and use a new toothbrush? I learned from my husband that when something breaks, fix it and don't waste money. And so when I broke the handle on my cheap toothbrush, I proceeded to get superglue to glue it back together. I worked on it at the bathroom counter sink. Superglue has a see-through color. A drop fell on the sink counter; it was not easy to get it off since superglue is quite strong.
Unfortunately, my husband came into the bathroom and saw what had happened. My day was ruined. He started on his rampage, and I knew it would last two hours. He began lecturing me about how stupid I was for not first putting a paper towel on the counter before using the super glue. He continued to tell me that if I couldn't get the super glue droplet off the counter, he would have to buy a whole new sink. He repeated himself repeatedly and raised his voice to be louder and louder. "How could you not put a paper towel down first? What were you thinking? Where was your brain? I will have to buy a new sink if you don't get it out. How could you be so stupid?" he reprimanded.
His two hours of screaming and demeaning me were hard to bear. This instance showed the monster that lived inside of him. Where did all the anger originate? How could he get so angry over a drop of transparent superglue on the bathroom counter?
I told him he cared more about the drop of superglue on the counter than the drop of superglue on my finger. Horrible hubby said, "You can rub the glue off your finger without a problem. But buying a new sink would cost more if you don't get it off the counter." The words hurt. What hurt was that it felt like he cared more about the sink than my finger. The sink was more important than me.
I concluded that my husband cared more about material things than me. It was disheartening to know that we didn't have the same values after all. He was more materialistic than I thought. The car, the doorknob, and the sink were all more important than my life, feelings, or well-being. He was most proud of his possessions, and there is nothing wrong with that, but did he have to put me down to show those things are of greater value to him than me? I couldn't comprehend how they were more important because I didn't share the same values as him. Human relationships, feelings, respect, and understanding were more important to me.
Grateful that I had taken the Landmark Forum before I met my husband, I knew my self-worth was mine to own, and it was not for anyone to take away from me. Despite that knowledge, his demeaning words during his rampages did hurt. Using my problem-solving and creative skills to help me improve the situation, I still endured more pain. Refusing to give up, I took another personal development course in Landmark Education and regained the strength and power within my hands.
It was up to me to choose the courage to move forward. Standing up for myself and saying I deserved respect was up to me. I did not deserve to be treated like a lower form of a living thing or less of a person. I thought my endurance was a strength, but now I saw it was not because it made me suffer. Choosing courage and choosing to stand up for myself, I finally divorced him.
I thought he was a nice guy before I married him. I found him to be a monster after I married him. I considered him to be heartless when he belittled me. I thought him spineless when he felt the need to put me down to make him feel better about himself. However, after I divorced him and out of the blue, I gained a new idea that had never occurred to me previously. Always looking to understand or trying to find new perspectives, I found one to help me feel better about him as a human being rather than a heartless man. Perhaps one of the reasons he valued material things over humans was that material things could not hurt him, whereas humans could. And no human likes to get hurt; we instinctively do what we need to protect ourselves.
The Warm Ice Cream
The ground was blanketed with beautiful sheets of white snow everywhere. It looked so clean, with no footprints on them. The crisp cool air gently blew across my face and reddened my cheeks. Around me were Sonny, Cousin Eason, and distant Cousin Elliot. We got out of the car and walked to an ice cream parlor. Yes, we were in the dead of winter and were going to have some ice cream. It was the coolest and warmest ice cream I had ever eaten.
I had a two-week work vacation and decided to visit my business partners. We worked together in a national company, and I arrived in Boston from San Francisco to give them some training.
Though I grew up in Boston, it wasn’t until much later that I discovered Boston was famous for its ice cream, especially coffee and Oreo ice cream. They were both my favorite flavors. In we walked to the ice cream parlor. We knew what we wanted and quickly ordered our favorite ice cream flavors. With a large scoop of Oreo and coffee ice cream in a cup, I sat down with my three guys. As soon as we sat down, we ate our first spoons in silence.
The first spoon was freezing on my tongue, but I was happy to be eating my favorite ice cream flavors. I kept my tongue to the roof of my mouth to savor the flavors, and when I could no longer taste them, I put another spoon of ice cream into my mouth. I was smiling joyfully to taste my favorite flavors I had not eaten in Boston for many years. My companions were smiling in silence, too. They were smiling because I was smiling, or we were all so happy to spend time together.
Looking through the glass door and window of the ice cream parlor, I saw that it was snowing with gentle flakes to the ground. My face felt cold, and my tongue was, of course, cold. I laughed out loud, saying, “Look at us eating ice cream on a cold, snowy day!” Sonny said, “Oh, we do this all the time!” It made me wish I was back in Boston. I left many years ago when I went off to college.
I was back after so many years because of my dear cousin. Cousin Eason was in San Francisco and had called me when he was in town. I shared about a business, and he quickly signed up to join me in my new venture. We kept in touch by phone to discuss the business since we were in different states. Cousin Eason invited Sonny and distant Cousin Elliot soon after returning to Boston. And it was not very long before I arrived in Boston to meet with them and our other business partners.
Back at the ice cream parlor, we ate our ice cream. We didn’t talk much, but we were all smiling while eating our ice cream. Even though the ice cream was cold, I had never felt so warm eating ice cream. We were there at my request, and I was in good company.
I struggled to build a team in our business, but Cousin Eason showed up or came back into my life unexpectedly. He was my first cousin, and I remember him as the cutest baby I had ever seen. I remember plopping him on my auntie’s bed to look at his cuteness while he sat and drooled at six months old. Now he was in his early twenties, and he remembered me! I did not expect to see or form a new bond with him since I last saw him.
After Cousin Eason joined me in business, our team grew in numbers. Eason needed help, and I was glad to train our new associates. Eason was great at recruiting, and I was terrible at it. I was skilled at training and encouraging as I was a teacher in my other career, and Eason needed help in that area. We complemented each other and got along well working together. It was a most unexpected and pleasant surprise. With Cousin Eason, I found camaraderie with a team. With Cousin Eason, I got the opportunity to help others in a most rewarding way.
Cousin Eason helped make one of my dreams come true: Build and inspire a team. Because of the unique adventure we shared, I am forever touched by it. Perhaps you can understand how cold ice cream with some team members warms my heart.
Though it was only a short trip to the ice cream parlor, it was a heartwarming outing. It reminds me that regardless of how cold or harsh our outside world can be, our hearts can always be warmed with support and love.
Key Takeaways : Though I thought my ex-husband was a heartless man who valued material things more than me, an eye-opening moment popped into my head that would relieve me from all the grief: Material things could not hurt him, but humans could, and he protected himself by focusing on things.
Though I was eating ice cream while it was snowing outside, I mused over how heartwarming it was because I was in good company.
Next week, you will hear two new real-life stories called Virtual vs. real Friends and Old Memories Make New Memories. 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!