Sunday, May 17, 2009

Tough girls do cry

I may be generalizing here, well because I am using myself as an example and other "tough" chicks that I am friends with. I know the tough girl thing may be a turn off to some folks. We are no girlie girls, we are not helpless damsels in distress, we do not need rescuing. We are independent women, can do anything women, nothing is too big of a challenge. And we don't cry

Except that we do.

Underneath every tough girl I have known lies a sensitive heart. And invariably there will be some tale that left them no choice but to be strong, because that was how they were going to survive in this world. Maybe they grew up in a dysfunctional family. Maybe they faced some tragedy. But at some point in their lives, they made a conscious decision to be tough. It's a survival mechanism you see. They know the extent that they can feel things and they know if they let themselves feel everything, they may in fact dissolve into a puddle of goo.

By all definitions my childhood was a blissfully happy one. I was always a tomboy and generally liked playing with boys because they were more fun. I do not recall playing with dolls, but Mom will firmly refute that, somehow I think she thinks not playing with dolls is akin to announcing to the world that I am gay. I was always climbing trees, getting cuts and scrapes, but no matter what I was up to, you can bet that I was having fun. I was a happy kid. Loved to laugh. And loved to make others laugh. At school I knew everyone. This is not an exaggeration, I mean from kindergarten all the way up to the high school seniors, I knew them and were friends with them. I was the funny little brown girl, with long long eyelashes and the mischievous streak of a monkey. I was surrounded by love , from loving neighbours that were like grandparents to me, to caring school teachers, to friends and of course at home all was well.

That is, until we moved from Japan back home. Up until that point, our family was just the four of us. Mom, dad, my brother and me. One happy family unit. Once we returned, I got to meet my extended family. And couple of years after our returned is when the trouble happened. My mother did not have family of her own. So I never knew what it was like to have my Mom's sisters as aunts, or her parents as my grandparents to dote on me. What I did have was my father's very unstable family. He had 3 sisters, one brother and his mother. My uncle was the only one that ever showed me love. I mean the real kind, not the fake I have to pretend to love you because you are my niece. As luck would have it, he was taken from me much too soon, passing away at 46. But my aunts, well they were a different a story and not very nice women. I won't even get into what my grandmother was like. Just that people like her should never be allowed to have children. Whatever was the issue with the women in my father's family, they felt a need to meddle and disturb our happy family equilibrium. And so that is when the fighting started. I was mortified by the thought that my parents would divorce. The house was completely silent, there was a veil of sadness over everything. I thought my heart would stop. I couldn't bear it, yet even at the ripe old age of 12 I knew I could not go to my parents and burden them with my fears. They had enough to deal with. So I internalized everything. I bottled it inside. But the pain was killing me. I used to dream about running away from home just to get away from the silence and sadness. Run to someplace where it would be okay to laugh out loud and be happy. Then I would think about how my parents would miss me and be sad and I would admonish those thoughts. I would pray to god and dead grandparents to come and save me. But no one came.

I remember one night crying so hard and for so long that I finally had no more tears from sheer exhaustion. I remember my brain just telling me, okay, we need a break Marjan. If you are going to cry like this, we need a break. I was always a voracious reader so I turned to one of my books. I suddenly realized that I was able to keep my mind off my troubles and worries. I had an epiphany. My mind was able to compartmentalize, it was my feelings that were killing. So what if I decided to stop feeling? What if I did not let anything move me? Then there would be no pain. And so it was that for the next 4 years I stopped feeling. And read a ton of books. This earned me the reputation of being an insensitive person. And uncaring person. The truth was, I was just doing what I knew best to protect myself. The truth was I was a super-empath, so if I had let myself feel I would have surely have done myself harm.

So it was that I learned to take care of myself. I could not count on my parents to be there to help me out, not when they were hurting themselves. I could not count on their love, their unconditional love because they were suffering. I learned to solve my problems by myself and to keep things to myself. It took years before I could open up to anyone about anything. I felt by telling anyone, I was somehow betraying my parents. 4 years later after that fateful night that I had my epiphany, upon the death of my great uncle, I let myself feel. After everyone had bade him goodbye, after the funeral, after everyone was back to normal, I finally let myself cry. I finally let myself miss him.

That happy, well-loved child, grew up to be a funny tough chick, who secretly craved to be surrounded by the kind of love she once had as a child. I am a Sagittarius after all, and we love nothing more than to love and be loved. That happy kid grew up to be someone that would laugh at the ups and downs of life, shrug them off, pick herself up by her bootstraps and keep marching forward. Always an optimist, I believe tomorrow will be a better day. I try not to let anything get me down. I'll cheer up anyone that is sad, I'll be the best friend you always wanted, be there for you, help solve your problems, and take care of you. But I will never let anyone do the same for me. I can't. Too many years of taking care of myself and handling it all on my own have made me practically allergic to burden anyone else with my troubles. I'll make you laugh instead and help you forget your woes.

And then I'll come home and for a second the realization will hit me, that it's just me. Just me and no one else. And that life sometimes sucks and there is nothing I can do about it. And that's when I cry. But the next day I will wake up, with smile on my face and ready to face the world.

I maybe tough on the outside, but I am way softer on the inside that anyone will ever know. But I think that is the duality of us tough chicks. We are one thing to the outside world and another to ourselves. And everyone of us has a story why we had to toughen up so we could survive. And to those few that get to see the real "me" they know there is nothing tough about this chick.... even if I have been known to make a few grown ass men cry at work hehehe....

1 comment:

Miss Attitude said...

Thanks for sharing your story. I can't imagine going through that as a child.

I do love that you have been known to "make a few grown ass men cry at work"-- didn't they ever hear there's no crying in baseball????