Eye-Opening Moments are real-life stories of adversity, encounters, and perspectives intertwined. In this episode you will hear about Erase Those Memories, Please and Where I Came From, Part I.
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Hello and welcome to episode #83 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 Erase Those Memories, Please and Where I Came From, Part I.
Erase Those Memory, Please
Why can’t I forget some things I want to forget? Help me erase what I don’t want to remember, please.
I remember being bullied in fourth grade. Two big boys would see me after school, approach me, push me in my arms, one on each side, and try to stop me from going on my way. I wouldn’t say a word and attempt to inch my way out. With no response from me, they eventually left me alone. Why are people so mean to someone they don’t even know?
The worse bully was Sawyer, my sixth-grade neighbor who followed me home after school for a whole year. We were both sixth graders and lived next door to each other. You could say we took the same path to and from school, but he waited to see me before walking home behind me. I ignored his taunts and screaming of my name. He was relentless. As much as I ignored him, he wouldn’t stop the bullying. It only stopped when I went to seventh grade; miraculously, we didn’t go to the same school anymore.
I want the bullying memories erased. They bring pain and memories of me falling to predators. I felt victimized, and I hate being a victim. I knew not how to deal with them. All I know is that my silence could leave the opposing parties helpless or make them relentless!
I remember an Italian hairdresser passing the sides of his hands on my lips when I thought I’d get a new and stylish perm from him when I became a career woman. He did it several times and even directed me to a closet. I had enough sense not to go. I wanted to run out of the salon, but he still had my hair soaked in perm solutions. When the ordeal was over, I paid and never wanted to pass by that salon again. It was near my home, so it was an effort not to pass by it for fear of seeing that robust and bearded man again.
Why didn’t I know any better and stand up for myself?! I have no answers. I only know they are in my memory bank, and I haven’t forgotten them. I want to forget the traumas. Some people do; why can’t I? I could say the lesson to learn since I still remember, is that should any bullying or harassment ever happen again, I am to recognize it and stand up for myself by shouting, “STOP IT!”
I remember the devastating break-up with Devin because he cheated on me. My heart was gutted out and drained of blood; the pain was hard to bear. Help me forget; I don’t want to feel the pain. Worse than that, if possible, was when I had excruciating fibroid pain. Before our break-up, I had called Devin to bring me to the hospital, and he didn’t come until two hours later. He said he had things to do and was busy. I seriously thought I was going to die from the pain. When Devin came, he drove me and dropped me off at the emergency ward, where I waited another hour before seeing a doctor. Tears rolled down my eyes uncontrollably and profusely. I thought I was going to die, and no one cared. I don’t know which was more painful or were they equally painful. One was the physical pain from the fibroids, which I didn’t know what it was at the time. The other one was that my boyfriend didn’t give me the attention, care, or support I needed in a time of enormous pain. Help me forget how heartless he was! Thankfully the fibroid pains did go away, but the pain of discovering that Devin cared more about himself than me was a knife lodged in my heart. Erase the pain and the memories of them, please.
I still remember. Let me learn the lesson of never staying with a boyfriend who could be so heartless. I shall never be with another man who doesn’t even care for my well-being.
I remember getting into a car accident where another driver rear-ended me. I was not injured. I called my husband for support as I was shaking. He came and saw that a section of the rubber bumper was ripped off by the person who bumped me. I could not find it to glue it back on eventually. He was furious. He screamed at me and reprimanded me so loud that someone from a building across a parking lot from the street heard it and called the police. Though it was embarrassing, I was glad the police came to my rescue to stop my husband from screaming. The police came and nicely asked if I wanted to go home with my husband or not. He asked twice. The caller told the police a man was screaming at a woman on the street. Stupid me said I was okay and would go home with my husband.
I want to forget this incident of a perfect display of how my husband cared more about the car than my well-being. He reasoned that he was screaming and angry that I got the rear bumper damaged. He never asked if I was okay from the accident. I knew my husband and divorced him before I met Devin, who also showed no care for my well-being in a crisis. Yes, I learned my lesson after Devin.
All the awful things that occurred could have been that I was unlucky in this life, but I will choose to believe that they were lessons for me to learn. They were challenges for me to face and become a stronger woman. With the strength to always get back up after I have been attacked, my name is Resilience. I will not be defeated; like bamboo, I will bend and bounce back up to live another day to do better, recognize when I am not treated properly, and take action to stand up for myself. As Helen Reddy had sung, “I am woman, hear me roar!”
Where I am From, Part I
No one knows where I am from unless I tell them. I never got a southern accent because I left when I was five. I remember sitting on top of a man’s shoulders to watch the Mardi Gras parade. The man helped me catch plastic bead necklaces from the parade floats. It was well into the night as I saw sparkling evening lights glimmer. The man was not my father but his employee. We were on St. Charles Avenue, where the cable car tracks still lay. Why was I not on my father’s shoulders? Was Dad too busy working and sent his employee out to have me see the parade? Where was the evidence of my presence watching this parade? I had no bead necklaces in my possession; where did they go? There was no trace of it; there was no proof that I was born in New Orleans.
As a teenager, I returned home because Grandma Sandy thought it was time for me to be with my family; they had bought a new house in the suburbs and were moving up in the social class. My sisters frequently said, “y’all,” and I had to learn what it meant. They had a southern accent, and I never caught on to it in the two years I lived with them.
Many years later, I visited my older sister when she was married with children. She had moved to another southern state. She cooked me a home-cooked breakfast which consisted of a buttermilk biscuit, salty ham, fluffy scrambled eggs, and grits. I didn’t know what the white mushy bits were and had to ask her. It was the first time I learned what grits looked like. She had to tell me that she had cooked a typical southern breakfast to which I was not accustomed.
Since I left home early in life, there was no southern residue on me other than my birth certificate, which proved that I was born in New Orleans. I only happened to see it when I needed it to go to Canada on vacation with Grandma Sandy’s family. It was my only proof of where I was from and that my parents were indeed my parents.
I can picture a big pink house with a white porch. I think I once lived in it. I have no memory of it other than when Dad was unhappy; he’d have me kneel on uncooked kernels of corn. They hurt my knees, and I cried and cried. No one came to my rescue, and I didn’t know why Dad subjected me to such harsh treatment. I remember the pain, tears, and hurt that no one cared. I never had the desire or thought to return to the house I left when I was five years old. Now I wonder if it is still standing there!
Engraved in my memory is a scene where I wore grass green corduroy pants while standing alone on the street corner at the end of my street. How could I be standing there alone when I was less than five years old? I don’t know why and never asked about this memory that has escaped me for many years. What I do remember is a dog walking by. The dog with light brown hair, like Lassie, stopped to touch and smell my corduroy pants with his nose. I didn’t cry; I didn’t make a sound. I was petrified and frozen in fear. It seemed forever before the dog left, and I never saw any adult come to my rescue. My only evidence is this faint memory of being down the street from my childhood home.
I only have a few scattered and faint memories of my first five years of life, but luckily, before Grandma Sandy died, she gave me a few pictures of me when I was a child. One photo was me with my older and younger sister in the backyard of the pink house where I used to live. It was a big backyard with a giant fig tree. Many branches of the tree hung over the swing set that was in the backyard. My younger sister sat on a swing in a dress and crossed her legs like a gentle lady. I sat on something else with my older sister. There was a seat on each side, and it could swing back and forth too. My older sister looked straight at the camera like a model who knew what she was doing, and I had to turn around from the seat to look at the camera. I had on shorts with a poncho-style top. It was yellow, orange, and white. Looking at what we were wearing, I suppose it was spring or summertime. We all looked “neutral.” We didn’t look happy or sad.
Looking at this backyard picture of me before Mom sent me to live with Grandma Sandy let me know I spent some time with two of my sisters. My youngest sister wasn’t in the picture, and my two younger brothers were not yet born when I left at age five. I would be gone for ten years before I would be back with my family, which became a family of eight.
Though I lived with my family for the first five years of my life and spent some time with my other Grandma: Betsy, I got a chance to be back with them as a teenager for two years before I left again to live with Grandma Sandy. The little time I had with them gave little to show where I was from.
As a college student, I studied Child Psychology in search of the answers to my unremembered early childhood. It did not help. I concluded that it was not good, and I had protected myself from the possible pain it could cause. Though I don’t remember much and have little to nothing to show where I came from, I have memories since I was five. When Mom sent me to live with Grandma Sandy when I was five, the impact of the act was enough to affect the rest of my life.
Though you cannot tell where I am from because I do not act like any southerner, the fact remains. I was born in New Orleans. I look like my father and a bit like my mother and siblings. Maybe I want you to know where I am from simply because I want to feel I have roots or that I came from somewhere. Perhaps I want to know I once belonged somewhere or that somebody cared about me. The yearning to be loved and to belong has never escaped me. However, as a mature woman, I realized I need not be defined by where I am from.
My childhood, my circumstances, or what others think of me need not define me. I can take some experiences to help me move forward to improve. I can learn lessons from the past and grow from them. I did not have the choice to determine my upbringing as a child. But I do have the option to decide for the rest of my life as an adult.
Though I may not be able to alter or erase anything that has already happened in the past, I still have much power in my hands. As an adult, I can change the stories I tell myself and create new interpretations of events in the past that would help me progress. For example, Mom sent me to live with Grandma when I was five; I can’t change that fact. I thought my parents didn’t want me or love me, so that was why they sent me away. That belief created a sad and miserable childhood with low self-esteem well into my twenties. As an adult discovering the power in my hands, I can choose to construct the story I want and believe that I was fortunate to be sent away to live with Grandma Sandy. I was loved and cared for by living with Grandma Sandy, and I learned much from her. Had I stayed with Mom, I would have been subjected to comparisons with my siblings, problems solved with money or the purchase of things, and more. I learned this from my other siblings and realized I had escaped the trap.
As time passed, where I came from became less significant. More important is that in the present, I grant myself the power to define who I am. Responsible for the interpretations of the many life experiences that could help me be my best is most fulfilling. I seize the freedom to create or choose the lenses from which to view life. I own and define who I am on my terms.
Key Takeaways: Though I want to forget the bad memories, I learned lessons that helped strengthen my character.
Though people cannot tell where I am from, I realized that where I am from does not need to define who I am. I have the power to choose how I define myself.
Next week, you will hear two new real-life stories called Pushed Out and Where I Came From, Part II. 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!