Category Archives: Human Nature

Chin up

Scarlett O’Hara: The inspiration for my resting bitch face

Probably from the time I was old enough to talk, I was taught that to be considered a lady, I had to learn to walk and run in heels, keep my chin up, never show any emotion or expression in public, and never let people know what I was thinking or feeling, because it was a sign of weakness. The only problem was, it’s hard to not show emotion when the emotion you feel more than anything else is hatred.

We all try to put up the bravest front we can at every opportunity, as part of the defense mechanism that develops along with puberty. And yet that only makes us think more about our problems and try to deal with them ourselves, and in the process drag ourselves even further down, until we’re in an emotional hole so deep it would take six firemen to get us out. When will we learn that sometimes it’s OK to face uncertainty over certain things? That it’s OK to be afraid of being alone? That it’s OK to sometimes give in to the desperation that sweeps over us? That it’s OK to take as much time as we need to mend a broken heart?

Sometimes when I’m at home and allow the ringing silence to take over, I feel like just packing up and going to Colombia, because I might never make it to Cyprus. When I think of everything I’ve had to give up, in order to even dream about Cyprus, I feel like just giving up and going home to my mother so that I can bawl my eyes out in her lap. When I think of my mother, I feel like going home just so I know that at least she won’t break my heart and leave me alone for at least another few years. When I think of the heart that’s been broken so many times that it will never fully heal, I feel like putting all the ex-boyfriends, and some wives, on a hitlist and slowly and methodically killing them off one by one. When I think of that hitlist, I know that even mass murder will never mend my broken heart and take away the humiliation. And when I think of the humiliation I’ve had to face over and over again for the last 18 years, my bitter and cynical side takes over and I wonder how I can ever afford to show any emotion in public, at the risk of betraying the pain that I bear day in and day out.

The fear of God

My family has never been a religious one. For as long as I can remember, my family has never celebrated anything religion-oriented, not even Christmas (their annual business-gathering-disguised-as-a-Christmas-party notwithstanding). Maybe that was why, at the age of twelve, I decided to become a Roman Catholic, so that I would have some form of belief system. For the first five years after being Confirmed, I attended Mass every single Sunday, took Communion, went for probably more Confessions than were appropriate for someone my age, and read the Bible in both English and Latin. Then when I was 17, my father opened his first restaurant (perfectly timed, no doubt, to begin right after I was done with high school), and I was enslaved to the business, which marked the end of Mass and my days as a good Catholic.

I’ve never really considered myself a ‘religious’ person, but I’ve always harbored the childish notion that God really is watching and listening to everyone, whether they deserve it or not. It is perhaps this notion that lies behind the meaning of ‘the fear of God’. We may want something, but if we want it for the wrong reasons, God would choose not to give it to us. If we get what we want by the wrong means, God would let us have it for a while, and then take it away from us the same way we took it for ourselves. And if we’re waiting for something, but decide to give up waiting because we think we’ve waited long enough, God might decide that we don’t deserve it because we simply lacked the patience and faith.

What is it that keeps us hanging on and holding out for something? Is it our absolute determination to have it, and our unswerving faith that if we are patient enough, it will come to us? Even when we know it’s a lost cause, do we hold on for dear life in the hope that it will all eventually work out for us? Or are we just afraid that God will observe how we handle ourselves during these hard times, and then make the final decision as to who deserves what?

A decade ago, my very first tattoo artist told me, “I’ve learned in my old age that if something doesn’t happen now, it just means that there’s something greater out there waiting to happen soon.” If that were true, then would we still be hanging around to see if what we’ve been waiting for all these months would ever happen to us, or would we just let it go in pursuit of that ‘something greater’? Wouldn’t God then decide that we are undeserving of either one and in the end leave us with nothing? Do we continue, then, to float along in this limbo that we’ve created for ourselves, too afraid to go back, and yet too uncertain to move forward?

A time for scarring

You can't have a rainbow without a little rain

You can’t have a rainbow without a little rain

“There is a time for everything.”

I had lost count of the number of times this was said to me over the past year. It was the argument to end all arguments, the reason that was supposed to justify everything that had gone wrong: it just wasn’t the ‘time’ for it to be put right yet. On the one hand, I was inclined to believe that statement, but on the other hand, I had been raised to believe that nothing would happen unless we took the initiative to make it so.

And now here we are, a little over two weeks into what sometimes feels so surreal as to seem too good to be true. I had spent little more than the past year so deeply embedded in this hole of despair that I had begun to mold myself to it, and now that it’s time to come out of this hole, I find myself afraid, almost unwilling, to do it.

That’s the thing about cuts: some of them simply run too deep, and while the skin and scar tissue can grow over them, the damage is permanent and they never really heal. We desperately want to be able to forget the pain, but we’ve spent so much time behind that wall we built around ourselves that to come out from behind it seems too daunting, leaving ourselves feeling naked, overexposed.

My anger had become an antidote to my unhappiness, and it had reached a point where I didn’t know how not to be angry or unhappy. And every time I’m told to loosen up, let go of the past and be happy now, because it’s ‘the time’ to be happy, I realize just how difficult it is. I realize that I’m terrified of being happy because the last time I knew happiness was right before everything went to hell.

But maybe there is something to be said about there being a time for everything. There may have been a time for things to right themselves, and now may be the time to be happy again. So maybe, one day, the time will come for me to learn to let go of my anger, stop picking at the wounds and let them grow over on their own.