Twisted Misunderstandings, Twisted Pain
It was a cold winter night when the snow was coming down hard and quickly covered the streets. I was very happy to have returned home from pre-school and curled myself up indoors to stay out of the blasting wind that was cutting through my skin. It had been one of those days everything was going well and I was overjoyed to see mom after being away in pre-school all day long. I followed her everywhere and all I wanted was to be near her. She smiled at me and told me how helpful I have been just being around her. I hugged her tightly and was basking in tender love.
Within minutes mom had returned to her busy activities. Nevertheless I followed her everywhere. As she gathered a bucket to fill a mixture of cold and hot water while adding drops of liquid soap, she told me that I can help her to soak grandma’s feet. Excited, I ran to the door and picked up grandma’s heavy winter “feet” and ran back to the bucket and dropped them in…
I stood still and waited for mom to praise me for a job-well-done. Instead, she screamed and glared into me with razor-sharp criticism to tell me that I was being a bad child. I was in shock. My tears rushed down uncontrollably as I could not understand why I was faulted for giving her all of my love. I could not understand why my love would make her so angry. And I hated myself for making her angry. I ran to the door, turned to look at her one last time, then kicked the door open with everything I’ve got and raced out into the dark snowy night. I ran and ran, down the cobblestone stairs covered in slippery snow with my bare feet. The tears were still burning on my cheeks when the frigid wind cut through my thin layer of pajamas – just as painful as mom’s sharp glare. I couldn’t stand it. I had to get away and take myself away from mom. Not for my sake but for her sake. I don’t ever want to make her angry again. I ran and ran, headed to the frozen river so I can just float away…
As I matured from 3 to 35, I have learned the different between feet and shoes. Yet whenever I think of that story I still find an old numbing pain in my chest.
Back in October 2008, I met this amazing man. We both shyly tried to approach each other in the next several months. We shared a mutual intimacy with one another that was both exciting and intimidating. He was working on a project that could use some positive marketing so I brought in Dave who I have adopted as a little brother for many years to do some video marketing. Instead of being full of appreciation, my amazing man quickly backed off from me and gave me the cold shoulder. I felt that same pain in my chest. Dumbfounded, I couldn’t understand what I did wrong to make him so angry. He ended up breaking our date and asked the whole group of video production out to lunch instead. I didn’t even have a chance to explain to him that Dave is my little brother before he wrote me off. Somehow I pushed him away and into the arms of another girl.
This morning as I finished my walk with my dog and ran into a neighbor. This neighbor is an elder wise-man who cared for me like a father. And I have always respected his perspectives. We casually chatted and he asked me how I’m doing. “Great!” I told him as I have been feeling good and it feels like my life is in a really good place. My garden is blooming beautifully this year, I have found a greater inner strength, and I find myself able to love unconditionally. Like a father, he searched for more, so he curiously asked me if I was dating this young man who came to visit me a week ago. I was surprised and asked, “you mean Dave? He is my little brother! And I haven’t dated anyone for years…” The elder nodded and apologized for jumping into conclusions. Suddenly I found a tear sneaking down my cheek. Unknowingly I was remembering the last time someone mistaken Dave (who is 13 years my junior) for my romantic partner. The tears started streaming down my cheeks. The elder padded me on the back and invited me into his home for coffee so I can tell my tale.
I did. Word for word. Tear for tear. I told him that I thought I have come to peace with that incident and I can be happy for that amazing man and his amazing girl. I thought I was able to love them both unconditionally and expect nothing in return. “But, that is not the point,” he sincerely looked into my eyes, “you are beating yourself up for a misunderstanding. It is your pain you must gaze into.”
My pain? I am fine, I thought…
Yet I was still holding onto the pain that I messed up and think if I could only have explained to him what was really going on then we wouldn’t have fought this silent battle for the past few years. I hate being misunderstood. I hate the pain of being misunderstood by someone I love. I quietly went home after my coffee to look within for the source of that old chest pain which resurfaced suddenly this morning. I knew it wasn’t just about that misunderstanding occurred several years ago. That incident was only a messenger to alert me for a deeper pain that needed healing. As I sat quietly in stillness, I touched upon that old pain in my chest again as tears rushed upward from the depth of me. I saw that little girl, who was me, at the age of 3, crying in the night of howling snow – that was the first time she felt misunderstood. She cried and cried. She couldn’t understand why the abundance of her love would hurt mom so much. And she never forgave herself for the perceived pain she caused. With my eyes closed, I held her, and we both cried and cried until our tears ran dry.
An hour ago I called mom. Told her the story of our first misunderstanding and how much pain I was still holding on. She and I had a good laugh, and a good cry – together. We rewrote the ending of the story. This time, I tossed grandma’s “feet” into the water and waited for mom’s approval. Instead, both mom and grandma looked shocked for a moment, then they laughed until we were all rolling on the ground. She then hugged me tightly and showed me the difference between shoes and feet. Then mom, grandma, and I all put our shoes aside and soaked a total of six feet into that bucket of soothing warm water as we laughed while sipped on hot chocolate. The door was never opened that night. The snow was howling out there, but inside the house, we were basking in love.