BLOG SERIES: MY JOURNEY
I lived in two worlds: my world at home, and the outside world. My world at home was one where I could let my hair down and be me. I could let down my guard at home and not worry about being hurt or criticized.
My shyness was embraced at home. It was a safe place that my parents (mama-D and papa-C) had carved out for their children. There was a lot of love and support there.
Like I said before, we didn’t have a lot of money, but we had a lot of love. And I felt loved and safe at home.
Now, my family wasn’t the openly affectionate type. Very rarely do I remember hearing my parents tell us that they loved us. But, even though they rarely said it, we somehow always felt loved.
We were a family that laughed together, and celebrated one another’s achievements. We supported one another and encouraged each one to always do their best.
We also worshiped together. Our faith was the center of our world. Our faith in God carried us through a lot of difficulties and hardships. The world may not have always been kind to us, but we always knew that we had a loving Father in heaven who loved us no matter what.
We were usually the family on our street who attended church the most: usually two or three times a week. We would put down everything and make our way to the House of the Lord to worship our Heavenly Father.
There were choir rehearsals, Bible Study, young people’s meetings, mid-week prayer, and occasionally all night prayer shut-ins and consecrations. As you can see, we were very active in our church.
For a long while, it was just my brother (brother-T) and I, until our two younger sisters (younger sister #1 and younger sister #2) came along. Brother-T and I usually stuck close together in the beginning. He was always finding some new adventure for us.
These were the days where kids were free to play outside all day without fear of being harmed in any way. We were free to explore our world through play, building our imaginations, and sharpening our social and survival skills. These were the good old days, and brother-T and I embraced them whole-heartedly.
One of my earliest and fondest memories is of our family going to visit our grandmother (my mother’s mom) on the weekends. My grandmother lived in the “country” in a house that sat on a lot of land.
Brother-T and I looked forward to these visits. Grandmother had a lot of land for us to explore. Our imaginations usually ran wild on our weekend visits to grandmother’s.
Let’s see, there was the huge propane tank outside that grandmother used to heat the house. Brother-T and I would climb up on that propane tank and pretend we were riding a horse in the rodeo.
There was also the old “out house” out back, that nobody used anymore, that we used to pretend was our clubhouse.
Then there was the long drive that extended from the house, and up a hill, and then out to the street. Brother-T and I used to love to race down the drive, up the hill, and back to the house, over and over again.
I also remember grandmother making the most delicious tea cakes. Both brother-T and I would always head straight for the kitchen when we arrived, to see if grandmother had any of her delicious tea cakes waiting for us. We were always delighted to sink our teeth into those heavenly, buttery tea cakes. They never disappointed.
As I said, I was a shy kid. I was most comfortable around my family. But whenever I had to interact with anyone from the outside world, I would often retreat into my shell, not always comfortable interacting with people I did not know.
When you are a kid, you can usually get away with it, especially in the time in which I grew up, when kids were expected to be seen and not heard.
But as you get older, it’s not always easy to retreat into a shell. You have to learn how to interact with people. And this is not always comfortable.
My mother (mama-D) mostly stayed home and looked after us. But when I was about three or four years old, mama-D got a job outside the home and brother-T and I had to attend daycare for the first time.
Needless to say, this was a traumatic experience for me. My family now tells the story of how brother-T would always have to speak up for me. “My sister has to go to the bathroom.” “My sister doesn’t eat cheese.” I was so grateful for my big brother being there with me. It really helped to ease the pain of this traumatic event.
This was also the time, according to my family, when I started pulling my hair out. They just didn’t understand how a child could one day be fine, and then the next start exhibiting such dramatic signs of stress.
My parents took me to doctors, but, of course, the doctors couldn’t determine what the problem was. And I, of course, wasn’t able to verbally explain to them why I was pulling my hair out. Papa-C thought it might have had something to do with mama-D taking a job outside the home, and my having to go to daycare.
Children react to these types of changes in different ways. Some kids have no problem adjusting to the change, immediately embracing it — like brother-T did. Some begin to slowly integrate, becoming more comfortable over time. And others, like me, find it difficult to embrace such change, and begin to show signs of stress, almost immediately.
All I know is that suddenly, my world was turned upside down, and I had to somehow find a way to navigate through it.
Somehow, I made it through this phase, and learned to adjust to my two worlds. Although I am still a bit shy at times, I’m not painfully shy, the way I was when I was a child.
We eventually made it through the hair pulling phase over time. And brother-T no longer has to speak up for me, although, I’m sure he would still readily be there to speak up for me if I needed him to.
Big brothers never stop being big brothers.