Eye-Opening Moments are real-life stories of adversity, encounters, and perspectives intertwined. In this episode you will hear about Another Side of Fear and The Traces Remain.
Comments or questions welcomed:
Twitter @emilykaytan OR https://inspiremereads.com.
Subscriptions appreciated: https://www.buzzsprout.com/1919670/support
Hello and welcome to episode #87 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 Another Side of Fear and The Traces Remain.
Another Side of Fear
I was in ninth grade when I saw a classmate named Sheila have an enormously big stomach from under her breasts to the bottom of her tummy. I heard whispers that she was going to have a baby. She was quiet, and I never saw her talk to anybody, so how did she get pregnant? I only thought how painful it would be to have a baby, such a big thing in your stomach, come out of a tiny hole. I learned about the birds and the bees in health education at school in seventh grade. I had already seen Uncle Ray’s wife pregnant with my first cousin. I learned about the process of childbirth, but I was still puzzled about how it could happen. People say having babies is a miracle, but I say it must be a horrifying event. I thought I would never have a baby because I feared the pain, but my fear was more far-reaching than ever imagined.
Looking at Sheila’s big stomach, I felt sorry for her. She would have to endure a lot of pain to have a baby. Each day at school, I would see her pass me by, and I would see her in some of my classes. Seeing her did not allow me to ignore the fear I didn’t know I had. I became more scared every time I saw Sheila. I became deftly afraid of getting pregnant because I did not want to endure the excruciating pain I had heard about or seen on television. I had seen women scream and sweat on the big screen, which terrified me. I vowed not to get pregnant. I had no idea how far my fear went.
I got my first marriage proposal before starting college. I immediately responded that I needed to attend college and get a degree. I said it would have to wait until I finished college. Time flew by, and the fear was on the back burner.
After college, my boyfriend reappeared in my life to propose once more. My following response was that I needed to go to graduate school. I loved my boyfriend, but I seemed to have one excuse after another. Somehow, I had it in my head that I would need to have babies if I got married, and I was not ready for that. My fear of the pain was too much; it was too scary to think about it.
Some years later, I finally got married. I stayed on birth control without my husband’s knowledge. I now had a new reason for not allowing myself to get pregnant. I had it in my head that I would lose all my freedom if I had a baby. How could I juggle having a career and having a baby? I loved my career and did not want to stop working. Hubby wanted kids. I said, “Later.” I reasoned that I worked with kids every day and knew the reality of taking care of kids, so I was in no hurry. Secretly, I knew my freedom was more important than having kids.
I ensured I didn’t get pregnant because it scared me. I thought I was afraid of the pain. Then I thought I would lose my freedom. I always found a way to avoid dealing with fear. Fear was in control of me. I reasoned that it was not a problem because I was free from that kind of pain, and I was free from being chained or having to decide between a career and being a mom.
More years passed, and I got a divorce. I am free; free at last, I proclaimed! I no longer had to deal with the fear of having a baby or even trying to please anyone. I focused on myself and returned to taking some personal development classes to improve myself. One class exercise had me face the story I created in my head that ran my entire life. I quickly identified my account, but I was the last to finish the exercise to deal with my self-created story. The activity was simple, yet it made me feel most uneasy. It was most unenjoyable; I didn’t want to do it and got annoyed. The task was to face a person (a class participant) and repeat my story over and over until it made no more sense and I got rid of it from my mind.
When I first told my story, I wanted my listener to understand. There was no response, as the listener’s job was only to listen and make no reaction. His lack of a response annoyed me. I proceeded to repeat my story feeling like I needed to explain and persuade him to understand my story and know it was the truth. Still, no response. I continued to repeat my story over and over as if to no avail. I got more and more annoyed. Soon other class participants were done, and I was not. I got tired of repeating my story. I wanted someone to understand. I didn’t get it. I got annoyed, angry, and tired. Next, I felt helpless. The story was so real in my mind. I finally had the chance to voice it aloud to someone, and I felt unheard.
I repeated my story some more, and then I hated my story. With more repetitions, I finally laughed and acknowledged that I had created a story that controlled my life to my detriment. A burden seemed to be lifted as I felt light and happy that I got through the task ending it with a chuckle. I didn’t think the task did anything miraculous, but I shocked myself the next moment. I discovered something I never knew or never had conscious knowledge of.
My story was that my mom tossed me out at age five because she was a young mom and didn’t know how to raise kids. She didn’t want me or love me. For the rest of my life, I felt unloved and unwanted. After repeating this story countless times, I hated the story. I hated my mom for what she did, and my aha moment came.
I thought I feared having babies because I feared the pain of giving birth. Then I thought it was because I didn’t want to lose my freedom and didn’t want to juggle between a career and to be a mom. All the reasons I created were to hide a fear far deeper into the recesses of my childhood.
I didn’t want to have a child because I did not want to be a mom like my mother. Mom didn’t care for me or love me. I could not find it in my heart to do what Mom did to me. And to be sure that would not happen, I never had a child.
Fear is powerful. It can control us; it can control an entire life if left unnoticed or dealt with. Worse, many fears are created in our minds. Since we can design it, we can let it control us or take over in the driver’s seat. Because we created it, we can choose to hold on to it or put it in the trash.
I created my fear of having babies. I held on to the fear for a long time. I had taken a long journey to learn where the fear originated. Once I identified it, I also acknowledged it. Then the healing began. More crucial to realize was that I allowed myself to be a passenger of fear; I unknowingly went along in the ride that hurt me. Recognizing fear, I can be the driver instead. As the driver, I have the power to steer it in the direction I would like. I can face it head-on, crash, and destroy it if I wish. I could remove the obstacle of fear and clear space to drive where I want to go. I always say we have a choice. Choose, choose fearlessness!
The Traces Remain
Though some people have died or are no longer in my life, the traces of their existence remain with me. They show up in my behavior, actions, attitude, perspectives, and beliefs. They persist in reminding me of who I am or who I have become.
It has been nearly twenty years since Grandma Sandy (my mom’s mother) passed away, but the values she imparted to me remain.
I look for ways to save more money every day. Every time it rains, I remember saving for any unforeseen emergencies. That was what Grandma Sandy always did, and she led by example.
I know how to wash and cut vegetables, cut and marinate meat, prepare all kinds of food, wash the dishes and wipe the table and countertops. Grandma Sandy taught me. I did the laundry, swept and mopped the floor, dusted table tops, tidied rooms, and cleaned the bathroom with Grandma.
I helped Grandma Sandy cut pieces of thread & fold parts to the clothes she sewed as a seamstress. She was paid by the number of pieces she sewed, so she brought work home. As she sewed, I did my homework, and she lectured me to study hard in school, get good grades, watch out for my own safety while walking home from school, and more. She worked hard for little pay, but she showed me working hard. She did extra work and kept on working without complaining about it. Grandma Sandy's example stays with me.
Grandma Sandy is gone, but all I learned from her remains with me always and forever.
Grandma Betsy (my dad’s mother) also taught me a most important life lesson. Though I did not spend much time with Grandma Betsy when I was growing up, I did, as an adult, spend some time with her when she got terminal cancer. Her lesson remains in my heart.
Even though little was said while sitting by Grandma Betsy’s bedside for many days, we bonded. She knew about my upbringing, and she was family. Before death, she gave me the greatest gift of all. Near death, she seemed to be still alert with all her senses. She let me know that I was important even though my family did not treat me well. She told me not to let anyone take away my importance because I mattered. Before her last breath, she comforted me with her understanding and wisdom.
When I feel down, jilted, betrayed, mistreated, or demeaned, I remember what Grandma Betsy said to me: "Don't let anyone take away your importance." Even though she has passed, her understanding words of wisdom comfort me and remain in my heart.
Grandpa Chase, Grandma Sandy's husband, left me something to live by, too. He was the one to sign my report cards. When he saw anything less than an A, he was displeased. Though my grades were not always satisfactory to him, I learned to demand excellence and no less. I require it of my students daily and could never forget to demand it of myself. Grandpa Chase passed away two years before Grandma Sandy. His expectations of excellence remain with me; I continue to demand it of myself and all my students.
Though my first boyfriend Keith is no longer in my life, his permanent place in my heart reminds me to have courage and keep moving forward. He was most encouraging and supportive. He remains to be the person who understands me the most. It has been many years since we were together, but he remains in my heart. I am comforted knowing that he is the one person who understands me. I can rest assured knowing that I can get back up every time I fall because I can hear him encouraging me in my heart.
When I find myself in a place that begs for forgiveness, I remember the lesson learned from the breakup with my last boyfriend, who devastated me. I have not seen him for many years, nor do I want to see him. Though it took ten years for me to forgive my last boyfriend, I did learn to forgive. Declare it and let it go. By learning to forgive him and myself, he remained with me, teaching me that I must forgive to truly move forward. Every time someone angers me or does me wrong, I am reminded to forgive and that I can forgive.
Though the breakup was a great shock, I learned to appreciate and live in the present more, as we don't know what tomorrow will bring. I also began to internalize life's impermanence, which led me to make better use of time and savor each moment. All the lessons learned as a result of the breakup have remained with me, so the traces of the last ex continue to exist.
Every time I find myself being self-righteous or adamant about being right about something, I remember my self-righteous ex-husband. I then instantly drop my need to be correct. I let go of the need to persuade or convince anyone about my opinions. There is no need to prove how right I am; it is just my opinion. I had seen my ex-husband choose "being right" as more important than our marriage. That was the price he paid. I wouldn't want to make the same mistake as he did. Relationships are more important than being self-righteous. I have long since divorced my ex-husband, but the lesson learned from him remains with me to remind me not to repeat his mistake.
Though Mom has not been a part of my life since I was five, the traces of her existence is sprinkled all over me. Whenever someone was late to meet me, I got angry because I felt abandoned, just like Mom abandoned me. I no longer get so angry, so those remains have disappeared for the most part. Whenever someone told me they loved me, I didn't believe them. Mom tossed me when I was five; she didn't love me, so how could anyone love me? Though I have grown and matured, the traces of Mom remain to haunt me sometimes. Whenever I see someone caring a bit too much about their looks or looking good to others, they remind me of Mom. Traces of her are around me. I don't like it, but it is a good reminder not to be so vain and work more on building my character.
Grandma Sandy, Grandma Betsy, Grandpa Chase, Mom, my first boyfriend, and my last boyfriend significantly impacted my life. Whether some have died or some are no longer a part of my life, traces of their existence remain with me to remind me of something, or they have become a part of who I am. Beware of trace remains that can uplift or haunt you and choose which ones to welcome and which to bid farewell.
Key Takeaways: Though I was deftly afraid of having a baby and thought it was because of the fear of pain or having to juggle a career and a baby, I discovered the origin of the fear was far deeper and eye-opening.
Though certain people are no longer in my life, traces of their existence remain with me in my behaviors and way of thinking.
Next week, you will hear two new real-life stories called The Remembered Kiss and Why You Must Hurry. If you enjoyed this episode of Eye-Opening Moments, please share it with others, 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!