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I can't hide the pain that I feel behind my smile, but I will try I long to feel something again, anything, maybe in time My happy face masks the uselessness that I feel inside I push on, even though I have a strong desire to run and hide I will go on everyday despite the disappointment I feel inside I will win this war that's constant inside my mind I am going to survive the torment of my disease that's buried under my pride I am refusing to give up, though it's hard, I feel the urge to look up I am tired of feeling like I am not enough I refuse to give up, my faith is strong Please stop telling me that everything I do is wrong I am enough and I am loved The one I seek everyday gives me strength to rise above Instilling in me the will to fight when I am weak He whispers, “I am here child, I am the one you seek.” I am starting to feel something beautiful deep within It's His love pulling me through the storm again I know that through anything I face I am not alone For God loves me and is guiding me home Even on those deep and dark days, I see his light Always helping me to win my fight
My ten-year-old jumped in the front seat of the van from the car rider line and slammed the door. I sensed that she had a rough day by her scowling expression. Of course, my parental instincts kick in and the first thing that I want to ask is, “how was your day?” I have never gotten a good response that way, it is always a short reply of, “good,” or “okay” but never an elaboration of what exactly that entailed. I took a breath and tried to think about what I could say not to set her off and help her know that I genuinely care and wanted to know about her day. I started asking questions that I thought she would appreciate better, “what did you learn today?” and "How did your presentation go?" This didn't seem to work as she let out an irritated sigh, “Mom, I had a long day.” She continued to look out the window, I could tell that she felt like I wouldn't understand what she was going through, I mean how could a lame old Mom like me possibly understand what her kids were going through? I had never been young once, right? I needed to hear what was happening in her world, because even though she was only ten and it may seem like she shouldn't have much to worry about from a grown up perspective, I had to understand that she's growing up in a different world than I did. Her emotions and problems would be much different than what I faced when I was her age. I admit, I am guilty of thinking; "what in the world could she be facing that was so horrible at her age?" However, she needed to know that I would always be a listening ear, her safe place to come to about anything. That was important. With caution, I started speaking, “When I was in fifth grade,” waiting for her to let out an annoyed sigh, I paused briefly. She sat silent, so I continued, “I felt alone. I didn't have many friends, I certainly didn't dress like a cool kid, and I was shy. Nobody really wanted to talk to a shy girl or try to hang around a dorky kid with beat up sneakers. If they approached me to try to play with me or talk to me, I always thought that it was a mistake, I didn't feel good enough to be around them, so I kept quiet most of the time. Some would poke at me and laugh and I knew the jokes were about me, but I would laugh with them or smile back. I willed myself not to let their actions bother me, though it was hard. I can honestly say that it did hurt, but I got through it because I knew that it wouldn't last forever. No matter how bad I felt, I didn't let them see it. They didn't get the best of me. It didn't bother me to be alone, most of the time I had my thoughts and that was good enough for me. Even though it was hard, I would stay myself. It can be easy to lose yourself when you're trying to discover who you are or where you fit in, but your heart always knows what's best and you need to listen to it. Despite hard times, my fifth-grade year ended up being one of my favorite years in school, I learned so much and had a lot of fun.” I hoped that something in that story would help, anything. I was going on nothing, walking into this world of hers with my eyes closed in hopes to help her through any darkness and push her to her light. She watched me while I told her about my younger years, her expression changing. When we pulled up to a red light, her demeanor softened, “Mom, I want to be a bully.” I was completely caught off guard, and for an instant, my heart was plagued with panic. I have always raised my kids to be kind to others, instilling in them that being mean or bullying is the wrong way to go. I was not expecting that to come from my story at all. Parenting is hard, often I feel like I am a failure at it, and this was most certainly one of those times. I closed my eyes, trying to hide my emotions, and willed myself to see it from her point of view. I stayed quiet and let her continue. “Listen Mom," she began as she watched me intently, "there's this kid and she's been picking on me and my friends for a while. We have tried to be kind and make friends, but it's like the harder we try, the worse she gets. She tells lies about us to our other friends and classmates, it makes us feel bad. I know that maybe her home life has a lot to do with it, but I would like to step into her shoes; the shoes of a bully and truly see how she's feeling. I want to understand why she feels like she needs to mistreat others to make herself feel better so that I can find a way to make her, and others like her see that they don't have to be like that. I just want to understand it." Glancing over at me, she smiled, "I know what you were thinking, Mom. I don't want to bully others. I wouldn't want anyone to feel bad. I want to understand what drives a bully to be a bully and help them.” I couldn't stop my mouth from falling open, I was lost. My heart was filled with pride for her and my mind was blown. often I ask who the parent is. I learn the most from my children, even when I think I know better.
Starting a new college away from home was hard. I had gotten into the University of Texas on a full scholarship and was eager to get started on my degree for my counseling career. Four long years ahead of me and hundreds of miles away from home, I was officially on my own. I grew up in a small town with three siblings to share my time with. I would say that we had a good, but tough childhood. We learned to be strong in tough situations through most of our childhood, I always remember being happy and feeling loved. That was the important thing. My mom was always teaching us to love one another and to be fair, even when we couldn't understand why. I was born with a heart condition that would send me through three open heart surgeries by the time I turned thirteen. The doctors said that I would never survive past age twenty, I was determined to prove them wrong for as long as I could fight, never giving up easily. Leaving my family was the hardest part, but it was not good-bye forever and they knew that they'd see me again for holidays and special occasions. I walked into the Bursar's office on my first week and asked for volunteer opportunities, I would need community service for my resume' and I liked to stay busy. I enjoyed learning new things. The secretary informed me, once again, that there was nothing and that she'd let me know as soon as she had anything come available. "Yeah, right." I thought, discouraged. I could tell that I bothered her by coming in all the time and asking the same thing, I decided it best to keep my smile on and thank her anyways. I was turning to leave with my friend Sally and I guess my mind was so caught up in the events that just took place that I didn't notice where I was going. I was brought back down to earth when I collided with a tall and tan young man. I dropped my planner on the floor from the collision and just stood there, stunned looking at his amazing light brown eyes. Something about those eyes. Time stopped and so did we. I realized that we must've looked insane to the others in the office, including Sally who rudely announced, "Hey! You ran right into my friend. Grace are you okay?" I was stunned by my instant connection to him, but I was fine. I nodded my head and spoke to him, " I am so sorry, that was my fault, I didn't see you there." He returned my apology with the most amazing smile that I have ever seen. I was starting to think that he couldn't understand me. When Sally again piped up, "Grace, are you serious? It was his fault, he is a worker, he should be more careful with the students and go back to his landscaping." I was so embarrassed for her rude remarks towards him, my temperature was rising, I hoped that he couldn't understand what she had just said. I looked over at Sally and couldn't hide my disappointment, "Sally, I can't believe you just said that. He is a human being like you and me, that was rude. Go ahead without me. Maybe I will catch up later." Sally looked like she had just swallowed something horrible and couldn't get the taste out of her mouth, she looked me up and down one more time and stormed out. I made note to make sure that I stayed away from her, that kind of negativity would not be welcome. Anyways, back to this amazing smile. I looked down from embarrassment, trying to find the right words to make him understand. This whole time he stayed quiet. That's when I noticed his blue shoes, that was my favorite color. Without thinking, I looked back at those eyes, and gave my most sincere smile, "I like your shoes." He looked down from my eyes for the first time, he slipped his shoes from his feet. "Here," he said, "You can have them." Oh goodness, now I was even more mortified. He did understand English, I felt terrible! Despite how he was just treated, he still returned it with kindness. I was thrown into a whirlwind of feelings; compassion, love, confusion, happiness, and sadness all at once. I tried to keep my cool, "Oh, no thank you! Really, but come on," I took him by the hand and led him out of the office. " I will buy you a coffee." He looked slightly confused, I realized that he was at work and probably thought I was crazy, what in the world was I doing? " We got off on a rocky start, my name is Grace. What is your name?" He stood there and smiled down at me, he lightly laughed and replied, "My name is Miguel, I have lunch now, Coffee is good." I smiled up at him as we made our way to the cafeteria. I wanted to know his story and everything I could about him, it was not like me to invite a complete stranger to lunch, but it was a strong feeling that I couldn't ignore. I didn't know why I felt an instant connection with him or why he felt one with me, but that day we both found out that love at first sight is real. We fell inlove and live a beautiful life together, but that's another story that I can't wait to tell you. Love has no language, walls, or boundaries.