Broken Crown

I recently cleaned out EVERYTHING in the house, the garage, the attic, every closet, etc… and found a lot of things, too many things, that took me to places I had tucked away in my memory. You know that popular hashtag going around social media? #throwbackthursday? Ya, well, this is too much for just a Thursday. In fact, if you combined all the Thursdays in a year, it would still lack enough space to handle these memories.

Lots of good ones… a few bad.

I’m a little embarrassed that I had been a packrat all these years but in a way, so very grateful, too. I made a lot of mistakes in my younger years that I thought I had learned from but for some odd reason was making those very same mistakes once again. Remembering all this reminded me of those mistakes and those lessons and how they pertained to me now.

  • Mistake #1: Being too shy
  • Mistake #2: Feeling like no one understood me
  • Mistake #3: Wishing

But what stood out the most to me was that I was really a good kid, a good teenager, a good young adult, a good adult and a good parent… I just made a few mistakes was all. A few bad choices, some naive misunderstandings and lack of experience should not have made me or anyone else think less of me. So after this lengthy introduction, here’s what I’m getting at: I didn’t need to change my shyness. Being shy is who I am. Feeling like I wasn’t understood by anyone was just my misunderstanding. In fact, I am sure that many of you reading this right this very second can relate to what I was feeling.  And there was absolutely nothing wrong with wishing… I just needed to make a plan to make those wishes come true. I simply needed to grow, experience and open my heart… not change.

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My parents spent a lot of their time with me and Donny whenever they could. They taught me all that they knew about the importance of family and God and education and work ethic and how you spend your time and who you choose to spend it with. And some how some way, my parents made each lesson jam packed with fun and happiness every single time.

We didn’t have a lot of money growing up – especially in my teenaged years. Donny and I went to a very good private Catholic school (I went all the way from 1st to 9th grade and Donny went from 1st to 5th grade). They struggled to pay the tuition each month and used uniforms each year but they got by. We didn’t have air conditioning or cable or were able to go on summer vacations but we were together and happy. We took weekend trips to Bentsen park and camped out in tents and made s’mores and fished in the river with fishing rods made from tree limbs and bait made from squished up bread on hooks we found along the river bend that others had thrown away.

Amazing that we didn’t have to worry about stepping on those rusty old hooks and spending the weekend in the emergency room getting tetanus shots! Or snakes or illegal aliens crossing over from Mexico hiding in the bushes or coyotes (both kinds) or… cancer.

We could wake up on a bright sunny Saturday morning, watch Looney Tunes and drive away for an hour to South Padre Island with a foam ice chest filled with a big chilled watermelon, cheese sandwiches and bags of doritos and not have to worry about Chemo.

Momma taught me that if I wanted something bad enough, I had to work hard for it. They provided me with enough food to nourish me, clothes to cover me, a house to call a home and love to encourage me. I worked odd job after odd job, many times working at several places at the same time so that I could get my first pair of designer jeans, pay for gas in my car and books for college. I never had to worry about invoices totalling thousands of dollars from MD Anderson every month.

And as I was flipping through all the photos, cards, receipts and memorabilia of yesteryear, my eyes were led to one very special memory. In order for you to get the point of it, I’ll have to set the mood and history for you.

I spent a lot of time alone, grounded, in my room growing up.  *Not because I was a bad kid or anything but I think my parents figured out that it was cheaper to find an excuse to ground me than to give me money to go to the movies or play video games on the weekends and they never had the heart to tell me they couldn’t give me money. I would sit on the ledge of my window sill and write in my diary, read the Outsiders over and over again, listen to records and practice smiling in the mirror or curling and braiding my hair and day dream. I was that awkward girl that shot up taller than everyone else in 6th grade (but then stopped growing). I walked with my head down and hardly spoke a word to anyone so when I gave my heart to a boy for the first time and experienced my first heartbreak, Momma was there.

“Don’t let someone keep your heart if they want someone else’s heart,” she said calmly as she was driving making a left turn from 4th street to Sprague. I remember this as if it happened minutes ago. My eyes were focused straight at the stop light. I never looked at her. I never said a thing to her. She hadn’t seen me cry. She didn’t know what had happened or at least I didn’t think she did but clearly now I can tell that she knew. She must have seen the heartbreak in my face. It must be a “Mom” thing.

After speaking to the “Metamorphosis” group of empowered young ladies and listening to some of their challenges (broken families, teen pregnancy, peer pressure, drugs, gangs, grades, homelessness, rape, cancer), it hit me suddenly how I remember being that young and thinking how destroyed I felt when I thought I couldn’t talk to someone because I was so shy or that I thought no one understood what I was feeling or that my wishes would always be doomed to just daydreams in my head. Everything I went through gave me lessons and strength to be able to better cope with the increasingly more complex tribulations of life. As a teen, I experienced everything they experienced. They continue to contact me – and it thrills me to no end – to talk about dreams and mapping out plans to transform those wishes into goals.

One girl, I won’t say her name, reminded me soooooo much of myself. She never said a word. When I asked her a question, she blushed and looked down and to the left and hid under her long mane of hair… just like I used to. She was the first to find me and request me on a social media site. Still hasn’t said a word… but just like my mom knew something was up on that drive home when my heart was broken for the first time.. I know that little girl like I know myself. And I think she’s going to go further than she ever imagined. And I want to be there when it happens.

I am shy by nature but I work on my shyness when the event calls for it. I struggle with public speaking and simply just talking to someone I don’t know yet and it is difficult for me to expose my true self and experiences to others and it’s REALLY hard to ask people for donations… but it’s important for them to know and for me to let it out and to get over that fear. So I don’t change.. I just improve on myself a bit more and a bit more each time and am constantly working on my communication skills because of this. I’ll admit that my first instinct still tells me that no one understands me and the only ones who truly get me are inanimate music lyrics of favorite tunes but once I take that little step back, talk about it to a few trusted friends or even let it out on this blog, the responses that I get tell me that my problems, my emotions and my reactions are no different from so many others out there. I am a dreamer. I kind of like that about me. I hope that never changes because my dreams are big… gargantuan, in fact. But now I can take that dream and figure out a way to make that dream come true. Seriously, whodathought I’d be where I’m at now? Gotta hand it to me, I’ve had a hellovalife! And my dreams aren’t over yet. I’m just getting started.

So as I was emptying that last box in the garage and saw my old pageant crown crushed into pieces under all those memories, I cried just a little bit, regained my composure, smiled a little and continued on. After all, there is a kingdom I still reign over and a sunset I plan to ride off into. A broken crown won’t stop me. It never has.

Never give up on your dreams. Don’t change for anyone but improve on those flaws that stop you from achieving your best you.

 

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