Photo by Federico Erra
About two weeks ago, I uttered a sentence that I never thought I would hear myself say. I was talking to my husband and the following words came out of my mouth:
“You know, I have reached the conclusion that I am really happy I had a horrible childhood.”
As soon as I said that, there was silence.
My husband was surprised because for years he has only heard me complain that my childhood was “bad” and I was even more surprised because for years I viewed my childhood through a negative lens.
We all have parts of our lives that we are not exactly proud of or we may even wish to ignore certain aspects of our past in the hopes that by ignoring them we delete their existence. Often we look at these painful events as being bad things or even curses. I talk from experience.
For many years, I used to be in denial of my childhood. I didn’t have a great childhood and I used to be ashamed about it. I thought it made me flawed. I thought it made me a failure. I thought that if people knew about it, they would stop liking me. Sounds insane, right? But that is what fear thrives on…the lack of logic.
For the record, it is important to note that what made my childhood “bad” was the neighborhood which I grew up in. My parents loved me and took really great care of me. However, the minute I stepped out of the house, it was war. Sounds dramatic, I know, but it is true.
My parents immigrated to the United States long before I was born. They were in pursuit of the American dream and they believed that in order to fully be American, you had to integrate with American society. So my parents moved into a typical American neighborhood. We were the only ethnic family around. To say we stuck out is an understatement.
When I went to kindergarten I discovered the concept of racism. I had a funny name, tanned skin, immigrant parents and to top off the situation, I had a birth defect (which was corrected at age 9). These were enough reasons for me to be tortured every single day by my fellow classmates.
Being that I was the first in my family to be born in America, I had no one to show me the customs. I had to learn them on my own and often the customs were at odds with the customs that my parents were familiar with. For example, in America, to speak loudly is a sign of confidence. In my parent’s culture, you don’t do that because it is considered to be arrogant and so you speak softly.
In America, kids easily talk back to their parents. I remember one time hearing a kid curse at their mother and the mother did nothing. That blew my mind because
in my parent’s culture, to raise your voice at someone older is showing disrespect.
Going to school and going home was often like crossing borders of two different countries and each country made sense when you looked at it from their perspective.
By the time I was a teenager, more ethnic families had moved into the neighborhood and people were becoming more tolerant. Many of the people who gave me problems moved out.
So my life became a whole lot better. I still had to learn more American customs but I was having an easier time figuring things out.
Despite the fact that things became easier, I still felt ashamed about my childhood. I never have been able to talk about those times with joy. I see people talk about their childhood with nostalgia and I cannot relate. There are parts of my childhood that are blanked out from my memory due to the pain of what happened.
Someone once told me that my psyche did that in order to cope. I think they were right. When you have been traumatized, you find a way to cope and denial is a very powerful form of coping. However, the denial eventually catches up with you and you are forced to face the reality of what you are denying.
That happened to me a while ago and initially it scared me. I did not want to look at that part of my life. It was really painful but I came to see my fear as an illusion. Because as I looked at that part of my life, I came to see how it made me who I am and I love being me.
You see…things happen to us for various reasons. Some can be explained and some cannot. I may never fully know why I had to have such a painful childhood and I am cool with that. I realized that it made me tough. It made me do things which ended up changing my life for the better. It made me driven. It made me yearn for justice.
Yes, those times did make me angry for many years but eventually I realized that I did not want to become closed hearted like the people who picked on me. I could either surpass them by opening my heart or become paralyzed with anger and fear. I chose to open my heart.
It was not easy because I had a lot of issues to work through but the point of this post is to show you that often the things that cause us much pain are the events which offer us a choice: rise above the muck or succumb to pain.
Every single one of us has a choice to take our story and turn it into something poetic. It does not require physical strength but it does require the ability to read in between the lines and realize that each event holds an opportunity for mastery. Perhaps, the event presented in front of us was a blessing in disguise to teach us something new.
To waste time trying to find the reasons for why bad things happen just keep you stuck. People can be cruel. That is a fact but it does not mean you should allow them to control the rest of your life.
Natural pearls are made out of a parasite or grain of sand that finds its way inside the oyster. Take the parasites or grains of sand that have been thrown at you throughout your life and turn them into pearls. If an oyster can do it, so can you. For you are far more powerful and intelligent than an oyster. (No offense to any oysters that may be reading this post.)
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About the Author:
Nadia is the VP of Spirituality on Think Simple Now. Nadia has worn many hats in her short life. She used to be an image consultant, political campaign writer and attorney. Writing and photography are her passions. Through her writing, she intents to help people see how Divine they truly are.
* Click here to read all articles written by Nadia.
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