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Ice-Cream-and-SwingsIt’s been an unseasonably warm day today and I got my butt in gear and went out for a walk in the sun after having locked myself in the room the last few days, working my ass off. It was an “uneventful” walk in my familiar neighborhood, nothing spectacular to see, but on my way back, I created an “extraordinary” experience by stopping in a children’s playground.

For quite a while, I had been eyeing the swings and wanting to go and sit on one. But I felt self-conscious. I could literally see the groups of kids starring at me like an alien intruder, pointing their fingers and laughing at me. So I waited until nobody was there. Thanks to the ice cream truck, all the kids were gathered around it and forgot about the swings. I got lucky. I hastened my pace and I took a seat and started swinging.

As I sat on the swing, my eyes caught the clear, blue sky and a little squirrel that ran on the thin edge of a metal fence. The melody of the ice cream truck repeated itself in the background. Suddenly, a boy came by, sat next to me and started to swing slowly while licking his ice cream cone. Then more kids came, and then some more, until one had to stand and wait for his turn. I found myself sitting among these innocent children, feeling like one of them myself, enjoying the motion, the music, and sunshine.

The self-consciousness disappeared. Why was I so afraid before? Why did I hesitate? Images of my first year in secondary school flashed across my mind. Vivid pictures of privileged kids ganging up on me came back. I have been working on my emotional charge related to this traumatic experience for a long time. Finally, I realized that the bullying has no more hold on me anymore.

I didn’t realize, until recently, that my experience was so traumatic and incomprehensible to others due to the fact that I am a Highly Sensitive Person. Being one, experiences that would normally not amount to “anything” would be felt strongly by me. This understanding has finally allowed me to put my fear of bullying to rest. Being called an “alien” because I came from another school and “stupid” because I couldn’t speak English very well–these were incidents had left a big scar in my psyche all these years. I was left to feel ashamed of myself and a “weakling” all these years, no matter how well I performed externally. It didn’t help that I have a mother with narcissistic tenancies and likes to put me down lest I become “arrogant” in my ways.

But everything changed when I took that step into the playground, returning to a simple childhood pleasure in all its innocence. Suddenly, I have overcome this self-consciousness when I found myself in the midst of a “gang.” In addition, I have put another “traumatic” experience–the 7-year-old little Loo jumping off a wooden swing and being hit in the back of my head by the swing when it swung back–behind me now that I have been on and off the swing safely.

It’s amazing how a tiny decision to do something out of the routine can help me conquer some decade-old fears. Thus I have accomplished this month’s exercise of living outside my comfort zone.

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