Chapter Eight, spearheaded by Xeno Hemlock
Catch up on the previous chapters here:
Okay! Here we go. Thank you Xeno.
Chapter 8: Easy Mark
I didn’t know. I didn’t know back then.
Medals adorned my neck in grade school, high school, and even college. But what mattered more in the household was that time I burned a pot of rice.
Blood relatives and stupid strangers embarrassed and insulted me in public. My parents just stood there and allowed that to happen.
Kids my age deemed me strange and weird so I made friends with imaginary beings.
They laughed at my emotions and mocked my tears. I decided to shove them in a deep pit away from awareness.
Little me remembered the rules. Can’t cry. Don’t be a sissy. No display of weakness.
I was afraid. I shut up and hid.
I became the son who saved up his allowance to give to his parents only to never get the money back.
I became the student who did my classmates’ school projects because I was the smart one and it was, according to them, the “right” thing to do.
I became the friend who lent money to my friends even when I myself was deep in debt.
I became the face present in other people’s parties because they were special but I seldom celebrated my own.
I became the soundboard of people’s heartaches and stories but I couldn’t find a soundboard of my own.
I became the teacher who took on the most classes but was vilified for demanding excellence from fellow teachers and students.
I became a lot of things but being open to love wasn’t one of them. I had read about it, its definition, the involved emotions, but I didn’t really understand. I was witness to love in books and TVs, and in tales and movies, but I was blind to it. When it stared me right in my face, when somebody wanted to love me, I was frozen. I felt it but I couldn’t comprehend. I felt it but I didn’t believe. I had it but I couldn’t receive. The love that the stars of the galaxy sent to me walked away. I didn’t know then. I didn’t know back then.
In the middle of grief and tragedy, I had an epiphany. People who didn’t feel love growing up, they try to serve people, help others, and become heroes. They carry an emptiness inside them, caused by the lack of love, hollow and cold. And in order to feel whole they turn to servitude in the belief that the giving of love can substitute for the receiving of it. But that’s wrong. No matter which way the world turns or which direction the birds fly to, giving will never be equal to receiving.
That’s why when people praised me for my smarts and intelligence, I shrugged it off. I still haven’t forgotten about the rice.
That’s why when people appreciated my commitment and hard work, I pretended to not hear a thing. There was still more work to be done.
That’s why when people complimented my looks, I thought they were joking. At home and in the company of blood, I was always ugly.
I didn’t know back then but I know now. A life spent only in giving is nice but it’s lonely. A life dedicated only for others is admirable but it’s sad. BB was right when she said it’s not just about helping, it’s also about needing.
My life turned into a tall, sturdy, and empty fortress that’s also dark, lonely, and cold. I needed some warmth to light me. I needed some touch to ignite me, to show me it’s alright to be sad, to fail, to hope, to scream, to dream, to cry, to fly, to feel, and to love.
That’s why I’m here. That’s why I joined this club. I need this.
Up Next: Chapter 9, spearheaded by Patty Young
P.S. If you're interested in more gems from Xeno, check out his blog. Click here to read his recent wonderful post about peace and living authentically. I'm humbled that he asked me to participate in it.
Also, BB's Living Brave semester began this week. If you're interested, it's not too late to join. Brené herself will be taking the class right along with us! She spoke about it during her live Q&A session Sunday evening on Facebook. The first module is on Daring Greatly, the second is on Rising Strong. We're sure to have a leg up on the work for Rising! Check the program out here.
And last, I'd like to announce a little something special. I appreciate, more than any of you know, your participation here for our Rising Strong bookclub. As a token of my gratitude, I plan to celebrate each one of you over the next several weeks by creating a meme with a favored phrase or two. It's just a small way that I can say, "Thank you" to you. From my heart to yours. Up first, Crystal Chin. Check out more about Crystal here.