On the surface, she looks like any well-adjusted, well-educated woman in her 30s, ready to take on the world and achieve her dreams. She easily offers a quick smile with a spark in her eyes. Sometimes, when you get a glimpse of it, she exudes an air of mystery, ever so slightly and briefly, when she tilts her head to the side while thinking, or observing something or someone.
You wouldn’t know just by looking at her what she’s been through to be able to give warmth to others. She had to grow up quickly, at a tender age, when her parents separated ways. She had to take on abuse–verbal, physical and emotional–and not know any better until she was old enough to process everything, the should and should-nots, what had happened and its aftermath. She had to bring some semblance of normalcy to her family or what’s left of it, serve as a lynchpin, to what would otherwise be a badly broken and dysfunctional unit. She had to learn to forgive, let go and not give in to bitterness, and eventually love, which was tough for someone who had absentee parents, emotionally unavailable and punitive guardians, and unreliable relatives. Her friends never knew any of this; for a long time, she put up a wall for self-preservation, not letting anyone get close enough to hurt her. She exuded ‘maturity’ at a young age, learned to live and fend for herself, and give of herself, sometimes a bit too much, to her family, the needy, the unwanted in her community.
But inside she’s about to explode, like a ticking time bomb, if neither defused or dismantled. What she didn’t yet know about herself, she later realized, could hurt her and others around her, if left unaddressed in the light under the sun. It’s an extraction that will leave her vulnerable and weak, yet a necessary operation.
A hard life calls for courage in taking the bad out, not just to leave the good things at the core but to replace the bad and heavy, with new and better things, so that sooner or later, there can be a lightness to one’s footsteps, a considerable weight off the shoulders. Like a brand new lease on life.