What a great title for a book, The Shiver. I still get the same kind of shiver from time to time that I talk about at the beginning of my story, The Promise. They are not brought on by the same traumatic experiences of my childhood. Instead, they are brought on by the familiar circumstances that surrounded that time in my life. It could be as simple as an old song, a smell, or the situations I find myself experiencing all over again.
One of those familiarities is the racial tension we are experiencing again. It takes me right back into the halls of Stenton child center and Germantown High school where I, a white girl, found myself on the other side of the issue. Racism goes both ways, and it begins with what we are taught to believe and is reinforced by what we experience for ourselves. While I experienced what it was like to be a minority, it felt as if I was a goldfish in a tank full of black mollies. I feared they might eat me alive. The shiver comes from fear and a constant effort to survive.
However, there was a time during my stay at Stenton when we no longer saw ourselves as diffèrent. It didn’t matter what color our skin was, we shared the commonality of the situation we found ourselves in. We were kids who had been abandon by our parents. It was what we felt underneath our skin that brought us together. If we could keep all the painful outside influences away from what brought us together we found harmony in each other. How easy those outside influences can make us forget the sacredness that brings us together, and helps us see ourselves in each other.
While all the familiarity congers up painful memories for me, it also reminds me how far I have come, the lessons I’ve learned along the way, and who I have become as a result of it. If I don’t let myself learn from the worst of things I’ve experienced than everything I’ve gone through is for nothing, and all I’d be left with is an empty promise.
Since my book, ”The Promise” was published in January many who have read it might wonder how I could love my dad as much I still do. Those who knew him may not even want to know the mistakes he made by reading my book. But then you are missing the point that he is no different than anyone of us. He overcame the demons of his life. He apologized for the hurtful things he’d done knowing that it would never take away the shame that he’d take with him to the grave. Jesus once said, ”he who is without sin can throw the first rock.” I’d be the first to drop my rock on the ground. Can any of us say there is not something in life we wish we could take back? It was my dad who encouraged me to write my story from the moment I first came to live with him at 16 years old. He believed in what life had to teach us and that if we could help others by sharing our own mistakes than we give each other the opportunity to grow and learn through their own. I miss my dad everyday. I miss his hugs, his sparkling smile, our conversations. But his words of wisdom lives on in me. I am the lucky one to have had the relationship we shared and I thank God that I was blessed to have a Dad as special as he was to me. Happy Fathers Day, to my Dad!❤️
There are many characteristic of a fairy tale. Mine would be the one marked by seemingly unreal beauty, perfection, luck, love, and a happily ever after ending. But in real life embracing the fairy tale is like receiving a beautiful gift without any instructions on how to build it or care for it.
I had to unlearn my old ways, one thing at a time as they came into play. Like worry. Every one worries about things when the occasion merits it. That’s normal. But for me worry was the main focus of my everyday life. All of a sudden I’m living my beautiful dream and my only worry was what I would make for dinner. That wasn’t worrisome enough so I’d start worrying about when the rug was going to be pulled out from under me. When was Tom going to leave me like everyone else did.
I had no trouble trusting that God would never leave me, but it took a long time to put my faith and trust in another human being. The luck within my fairytale was having someone like Tom who constantly told me how much he loved me.
As I write this I realize that I do have a fairytale story with beauty, luck, love and a happily ever after ending. It’s all the in-between stuff that puts the meat and bones on our love story.
One of the things that helped me the most over the years was having friends to share my thoughts with. Knowing that others had the same goals, thoughts and concerns made me feel normal. It’s not right to leave people with the impression that everything is perfect. We learn and grow from each other.
My hope is that you will find this a place where you can share your thoughts and questions as well. We all have a valued amount of information stored up inside us. Why not pass the goodness on?
I leave you with a lesson on worry from—Winston Churchill.
“When I look back on all these worries, I remember the story of the old man who said on his deathbed that he had had a lot of trouble in his life, most of which had never happened.”
”There is no agony like bearing an untold story inside you!” -Maya Angelou
One of the questions I get about my story, ”The Promise,” is, why did you write it?
Sometimes the agony of holding something within ourselves becomes more painful than letting it out. You know how a child often comes around pulling at their mother’s apron strings mom, mom, mom, mom! Trying to get her attention. That’s what the child inside me kept doing for years. Each time I’d begin to write what she’d show me, it seemed as if I was writing about someone else until it finally penetrated my inner core. I had learned to protect myself from what I let inside me, but I couldn’t protect myself from what already existed within. I realized as I began to write that putting it all together was something that I needed to do for me because I often wondered if it was as bad as it seemed. It was! And as painful as it was to relive, it was also healing as I faced all the fears, hurt, and anger it created in me.
Releasing the agony of the story allowed me to forgive. It freed me from being a victim of my circumstances, and in that freedom, I choose to overcome rather than fall prey to the lifestyle of dysfunction, it tried to pull me into.
My hope for putting it out there for all to read is that in releasing the agony of my own sad story, maybe someone else will find the courage to face and tell their own.