A few weeks ago, I cried. And I don’t mean a ‘boo hoo, whoa is me’ cry. I cried as if my world had come to an end, and metaphorically it did.
I have four children, three boys and a girl, ages 18, 14, 12 and 3. My 18-year-old and I have parted ways and it wasn’t on the best terms. Suffice it to say that at some point between going off to college and his actual departure was a proverbial ‘F you!’ shared by us both.
The particulars behind our parting are irrelevant. The point is that my relief and freedom resulted from being forced out of my self-imposed prison. As I cried, I allowed myself to say what was on my heart without judgment and I cannot believe what came out of my mouth! During the moments when I was sobbing and wailing uncontrollably, it felt as if I had reached the seventh circle of hell and had a decision to make – leave or stay. I chose to leave hell.
In the end, I was shaking, stuttering and gasping for air. In fact, the feeling was eerily familiar. Once I let go of my need to feel self-pity and anger, I saw how I unconsciously created the outcome between my son and I, and why the details of our fight were irrelevant. Although I was quite embarrassed, I felt a relief I had not felt since I was 12 years old.
Backstory: When I was 11, my dad advocated for my sisters and I to get bused into a predominately white school after I received a double promotion, skipping fifth grade entirely. We were accepted and then it began: a white boy named Daniel teased, tormented and hit me all day, everyday. “Hey ugly! What’s wrong with your family – welfare isn’t enough?! Why don’t you get some new clothes – geez!” The black and white students laughed. Then hit and kicked me. I stopped saying anything because the teachers didn’t do anything and the kids just kept laughing. I was afraid to hit him back because my daddy would kill me for getting suspended from that white school he worked so hard to get us into. My anger was boiling, and I could have killed that boy.
The truth is, my family was poor and on welfare. I wore the same pants every day; they were clean and so was I, but that didn’t matter. My mother is Korean and didn’t know how to press my ‘nappy’ hair so my it was thick and coarse. I ate kimchi every day and the other kids teased me for having bad breath (I could have used a stick of Orbit then). No matter how pretty I tried to look or how smart I was, I felt like the ugliest, dumbest ‘thing’ on this planet. One day, after two years of being bullied and pretending like I didn’t care, I came home and cried so hard that I didn’t remember falling asleep.
All I remember is waking up and the sun was really bright in my room. I looked around my room – which was really the dining room – and saw my two sisters asleep. The apartment ‘felt’ big and I felt weightless. I thought I was dead, but to my dismay I was still alive. I sat up in the bed and looked down at my comforter and said something like, “Fine, God. This is my life. If you are real, then just let me have peace at school for one day, just one day.”
I got up and got ready for school. The day felt different, but I didn’t make much of it. I went to class and, as usual, Daniel came over to punch me. I looked him in the eyes and said, “Danny, not today. Leave me alone for just one day.” Daniel looked at me strangely and left me alone. That day, I entered a contract with myself – the Universe, God, whatever makes sense to you – and vowed to give my children all of the self-esteem they could ever use, make sure there were no external markers that would target them for harassment and give them permission to stand up for themselves, verbally or physically, if they were ever threatened.
When I cried a few weeks ago, I released a lot of anger and hate I held towards Daniel nearly 30 years later. I also learned that:
- I need to cry more.
- God is always with me. He just likes to play hide and seek. His rules are different thought. He hides in front of you and when you are ready to find him, he magically appears.
- I am not the center of my children’s universe. In fact, I am not the center of anyone’s universe; I am just a character in their movie.
- I carry too much weight of the world on my shoulders and need to give some of it back.
- I create my joy and pain. In order to have power over my life, I must take responsibility for what I create.
- I am a good person; plus or minus the moments I am in bitch mode. And even then, I am still a good person.
- Even though I am on a path of enlightenment, that path is long as hell. *Note to self: work on patience.
- My disappointment comes from trying to deal with reality as I think it should be instead of how it really is.
I am taking in my new-found freedom and my adjustment is coming slowing but surely. Here is where I am now:
- I am still angry with my son but less than before.
- I cry more now, but it’s not overwhelming.
- I am allowing people to carry their own bag of crap because my bag is full.
- I am more comfortable with losing the things I thought I loved; I never truly owned them anyway.
- I am transitioning and unsure where I will end up. I do trust that I will be where ever I am supposed to be and that feels exciting.
- I am working on my patience but still get PMS.
Have you ever had a good cry? Do share your story and this blog with others. It is amazing how relief from our own suffering is lifted when we know we are not alone.