Eye-Opening Moments are real-life stories of adversity, encounters, and perspectives intertwined. In this episode you will hear about Road Rage and When I Forgot Myself.Support the show
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Hello and welcome to episode #96 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 Road Rage and When I Forgot Myself.
Vicky, an old college buddy, was in the driver's seat of my Toyota Prius. We hadn't seen each other in over twenty years, and she was in town visiting me. I was excited for a girls' day out on the town. Vicky offered to drive since I was not particularly eager to drive with a passenger in my car. Soon we were on the freeway in the fast lane, chatting up a storm, when another vehicle tailed us closely from behind. Before I knew it, our lives were at risk, and so was our friendship.
Vicky and I had been the best of friends when we were in college. We didn't do many things as there was hardly anything around our college campus, but we spent much time in conversation. We could talk for hours, and it seemed like we could talk about anything with each other. While talking, we sometimes looked out into the beautiful autumn leaves, blankets of snow, or spring flowers from outside our dorm windows in Connecticut. We met during our first year of college and parted ways after two years. That was because she was getting married and moving closer to home. I was also transferring schools and moving to the West coast to be with my long-distance boyfriend. Though it was only a two-year friendship, Vicky and I were best buddies.
Vicky and I quickly lost touch because she was busy with married life, and I was busy adjusting to life in California. Before we knew it, over twenty years had passed before we spent a substantial amount of time together. Though we lost touch, we managed to find each other again and chat away as if no time had elapsed.
On the road in California, we were ready to paint the town. On the freeway, Vicky was driving 70 to 75 mph. I didn't think it was slow driving on the fast lane, but someone did. While enjoying a conversation, somebody suddenly came driving close behind us. He was only inches from the bumper of my car. I became uncomfortable and felt uneasy about it. I wondered why he needed to be so close behind us. Vicky noticed and speeded up to 80 mph, and the other driver speeded up, keeping a close tail on us. Vicky went up to 85 mph, and so did he. Now I was getting worried and more uncomfortable. My car started feeling unstable, like it could soon lift and fly. "Vicky, why don't you move to the next lane and let the guy pass," I suggested. Vicky wouldn't hear of it.
Vicky protested, "Why should I?" Soon I saw the guy weaving in and out of the fast lane as he couldn't stand any other drivers on the road. Everyone in the fast lane was not driving fast enough for him. Vicky started saying she wouldn't be bullied out of the lane and had her rights. I said we didn't need to fight with the other driver and that it was not a fight worth fighting. Vicky insisted that the other guy was in the wrong. "I agree with you, Vicky, but I don't want to endanger our lives, and I don't want my car banged up." "Don't worry," said Vicky.
Soon Vicky got out of the fast lane, but only to look for the guy who was tailing us. I told her not to do it, but she wouldn't listen. She was intent on keeping her stand that she had her rights. I was quiet for the most part. I didn't want to add to her agitation; I didn't want to have an all-out war with her while she was in the driver's seat. I already told her that it was not a fight worth fighting. I was distraught about my safety and my car. I didn't know how to stop her and was afraid I could add fuel to her seething heat of anger that I had never witnessed before.
Vicky found the guy who was tailing us on the fast lane. He was still darting in and out of it. We were next to the fast lane when Vicky gave him the middle finger. I couldn't look over at the other guy. She said the other guy didn't see it, and she drove ahead of him, caught his eye to give him the middle finger again. "Good, he got it; he saw me," she said. Exasperated, I hoped it was over, and the other guy would not fight with her again. Luckily, Vicky's rage was over; she had her say about it with her middle finger.
The road rage was over, and in my mind, so was our friendship. Of course, it was not only because of that incident, but it was the ultimate straw that did it for me.
Vicky had been staying at my place during her visit since I invited her. Little things she did quickly made me uncomfortable. We were good friends, but I think her behavior was a bit too much for me. First, she ate every other hour and left dishes piling up in the sink. She never washed them. Then she would leave open the balcony door in my bedroom; it allowed dust and rock bits to fly into the room. The door didn't get shut unless I shut it. She saw my favorite hat and grabbed it to wear without my permission. It felt like stealing to me. It also felt like an invasion of privacy since her head hair would touch mine if I wore my hat again. Worse, she said she was used to sleeping without underwear with her husband and that she would sleep without one in my bed. I cringed.
Trying to be accommodating and a good host, I didn't say much. I didn't want the small things to affect the great friendship we had or once had. But it did. I discovered her to be inconsiderate and thoughtless. I suspected some health issues, and it took me gently asking a number of times before I learned that she was bipolar. For two gals who could once tell each other anything, I soon learned she hid many secrets from me. On the one hand, it was understandable. On the other hand, I felt the trust I thought was there was not altogether there. Friendship could be such a fragile thing.
Despite the combination of little things she did that bothered me, I wanted to keep the friendship, but the road rage ended it for me. Her self-righteousness was more important to her than my life. It reminded me of my ex-husband's self-righteousness. His imposing opinions on me were more important than our marriage, resulting in a divorce. I take my stand. My life is too important to allow someone to take it away when it is preventable, which could have happened with Vicky. My life matters too much to let somebody strip me of my thoughts and ideas, which my ex-husband tried to do. The road rage reminded me of what my dying Grandmother Betsy told me, "Don't let anyone take away your importance; you matter."
When I Forgot Myself
Feeling unwanted and unloved since she was a child, she turned inward and was lost in her own world. She was a quiet observer of her outside world but an active participant in her inner world. In her world, she thought about how she would take care of herself because Mom sent her to live with her grandmother. She felt she needed to fend for herself, so she was all consumed by how she would survive. Unbeknownst to her, she carried a quiet strength that said she would show the world that she didn't need anybody. That was the rebellious child in her that said, "Mom, you don't want me? I don't want or need you either." And with that, it was as if little Emily was on a mission to prove that she didn't need others and could take care of herself.
Having struggled on her own to become independent, Emily spent a significant amount of time thinking about her life. She thought about how she would study hard as her grandma told her. She thought about how she would pay for college, get a college degree, and create a good life for herself. So many thoughts ran through Emily's head that it strained her. It was hard to enjoy her outer world when her inner world was so full of ideas and challenges.
On the other hand, she had escaped into her inner world because she didn't like her outer world situation. She lived with her grandparents' family instead of her own family of siblings and parents. Grandma was good to her, but her uncles told her she didn't belong. Since Mom moved her over to Grandma, she felt she didn't belong in her family either.
Early on in life, Emily already felt like she was alone in the world. She struggled to become independent, but she did become emancipated at age seventeen. Emily triumphantly moved forward by getting a college degree and a career. Despite her accomplishments, her life seemed to continue to be all about her. After all, all her troubles and challenges were on her to handle and resolve. Everything she did was about taking care of herself.
When she got married, it was no longer all about Emily. Now her husband demanded attention and care. She thought, "I have to take care of myself; why do I need to take care of you? You are a grown man; why can't you care for yourself?" She was not used to it and didn't like caring for someone else. More than anything, she resented it. She felt that if she had to fend for herself, she expected everybody else to care for themselves.
When she was fresh out of college and became a teacher, she taught her students to work independently and help themselves as much as possible. More proud than teaching students academics, she was proud that she taught them how to be independent. Whatever she did for them, she considered it part of her job.
Emily continued life as a proud independent woman, and, one day, she forgot herself. She did not get amnesia and did not need to go to the insane asylum; she was not crazy. For once in her life, without being forced by circumstances, she thought about others before herself. Perhaps her husband forced her to think of his needs first. Maybe her students forced her to think of their needs, too. But when it came to her cousin Eason and her distant cousin Elliot, she forgot about herself. She could only think about what she could do to help them.
As Emily sorted through some old photos, she saw a picture of herself between Eason and Elliot. Emily turned to herself and her cousins and said, "I am so proud of you guys!" So happy and proud of Eason and Elliot, I was full of smiles and wrapped my arms around them. I looked happier than they were. Eason showed a slight smile, while Elliot showed no smile but a look of conviction to become a great leader. My cousins both held a plaque between their two hands. They had won a prestigious award for team building. In our business venture together, a team builder had the potential for wealth, so winning the awards was a significant accomplishment. Eason held his plaque low and slanted, suggesting it was no big deal. He was humble, but he was my key player. Elliot held his plaque close to his chest; he held it upright with one hand cradling the plaque at the bottom and the other holding a corner. I think he was proud; he didn't show it on his face but in how he held his plaque.
I was in the middle of the picture because I was their proud leader and wanted a picture to commemorate the happy occasion. I had no award. I could have been embarrassed by having no award or recognition. I could have been ashamed of myself that my cousins could do better than me. They may have been ashamed of having a leader who didn't get an award. They might have wondered what my problem was or that they could not be proud to say that I was their leader. Any negative thoughts escaped me. The little girl who only thought about herself was now only thinking about what more she could do to help Eason and Elliot achieve their dreams. I was too proud and happy to think negatively.
As I look at the photo of the three of us, I smile and then smile again. I wasn't very close to these two cousins when we got into the business venture together, but as we worked together, we formed a bond quickly. My cousins and I didn't live in the same state, so much communication was by phone. Cousin Eason asked what he needed to do in the business. I told him, and he followed instructions without question. It was nice to have a relative put so much trust in me. I don't know how he did it for all the people he brought into the business, and Eason said he just told them what to do! Whenever he had a problem, he'd call me for help, and I enjoyed helping. Soon we all met up at the annual company convention. In person, I gave training which they greatly appreciated. I later flew over to where they lived to train the team. The team building and camaraderie were heartwarming and fun. They give me warm memories.
Though I never built a large team myself, I helped my cousins. While I was busy helping them, I forgot about my wants for wealth or success in the business. Engrossed in working with them, all I thought about was how I could help them have more success. However, when our joint venture ended, I often beat myself up for my failures as I did not make the millions I dreamed of obtaining.
Many years after the business ended, and I was moving abroad, I looked over pictures to keep or discard. I pulled out the old photos of my stint in business. I looked at the pictures with my cousins, bringing back happy memories. Now another few years later, I pulled the photos out again. This time, I had an aha moment. I was all smiles because I had stepped outside myself. And I made a difference. Suddenly, I understood the cliché that the greatest reward is making a difference by helping others.
Though I have helped many others do various things before helping my cousins, this one was different. I didn't help out of duty, annoyance, need, or demand. I wanted to help; I wanted to help make their dreams come true. It was something bigger and outside of myself. The joy and contentment of inspiring others to greatness have added enormous meaning to the life of a girl who once thought she was an insignificant human because her mother tossed her away.
Key Takeaways: Though my friend and I were best buddies in college, twenty years later, her self-righteousness in a road rage ended our friendship; my life was more important.
Though I grew up mostly thinking about how to help myself survive independently, I did become an adult who cared about helping to make a difference for others.
Next week, you will hear two new real-life stories called How to Stop Complaining and From a Stable Career to a Risky Business. 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!