So how many of you out there have already experienced a life explosion and it’s only the fourth day of the month?
Perhaps you got a pink slip at the job you always thought you’d retire from? Or you realized your best friend stole your password and has emptied your bank account?
If you’ve experienced any life explosions that have left you reeling from the blast then you need to light some firecrackers of your own.
I grew up in a deep Southern household where things like I’ve mentioned just aren’t talked about. Have you ever heard the saying “Just grin and bear it” ?
My grandmother was our resident matriarch and she ruled her kingdom with an iron switch. Yes, I said switch, because she kept a fresh one plucked from the Sweet Shrub laying in plain sight on top of the washer in the laundry room. It was supposed to be a grim reminder that the backs of your tiny calves could easily be striped with the sting of her switch as it was for you to misbehave.
In our house there were several topics that were not open to discussion. To name a few; money; family problems like adultery, unwed mothers or homosexuality; how someone really died as opposed to what you told the local newspaper; when my brother was thrown in jail for indecent exposure (he was drunk riding his bicycle home from the bar and decided to urinate in the middle of the street); my “sister’s” epilepsy; any of my brother’s first marriages, etc.
As a child, I asked my grandmother a lot of questions that made her uncomfortable. No amount of her chiding me to act ladylike and not to ask questions about things that didn’t concern me made me behave any better. In fact, my little calves stung on many occasions until one day when I called her bluff.
I had just felt the wrath of the switch for some small deed that she disapproved of and was sitting quietly in the corner, facing the wall, on my little chair. A switching was usually followed by a time-out in the corner so I could think about what I had done. I was silently loathing her. Even at five years old I knew I would never follow her rules and I knew when I was older I would speak out and I would be heard and my questions would not go unanswered.
So as I’m released from my punishment that afternoon with a “now young lady , next time you’ll think twice before you sass me” I stole away to the laundry, found the switch and broke it into a dozen pieces. I made sure none of them were even the slightest bit big enough to cause me any physical pain again. I then marched my little maryjanes into the parlor and, on tippy toes and with the smallest of fingers pushed her favorite vase to the floor and giggled happily as the !CRASH! filled the air. Then I ran like hell on fire!!
My grandmother’s first stop before descending on me with a fury was the laundry and from my hiding place I heard her yell “DELLIE!” Dellie was my grandfather and she never called him by his first name unless she was really mad. Then I caught bits and pieces of what I could translate in my little head from the Gaelic as she yelled about what a hellion I was.
I never did get switched again after that. My grandmother decided it was time to start trying some new punishments.
I had a head full of long curls which I refused to brush. This won me a very short haircut and I cried for days because I looked like a boy. My tears were not allowed outside of the house though because I should feel happy that at least they left some hair on my head.
I hated to wear shoes and take baths. This won me a stint at the Country Day Charm School for little ladies and gentlemen. Here I had the word “ladylike” drilled into my brain.
I stole cigarettes from my brother’s pack and smoked them with my cousin. The prize for this transgression was the opportunity to smoke an entire pack of 20 cigarettes in one sitting at the dinner table one night. A lot of stuff exploded in my face that night…mostly vomit.
As always there were still the topics you never discussed. The events in your life that you kept to yourself, repressed and hidden. There were the questions you never asked and the answers you never got.
I imagine I was a great, big secret my grandmother kept because I continued to bulldoze my way through life, living large and being out there as honest as any one person can be. All of it was much to her chagrin, I’m sure. And all of it one big explosion after another in her face.
The point of my story is to let you in on a little secret. No matter who the person is in your life telling you that you can’t do something or that you can’t be a certain way…never let them break your spirit. If life explodes in your face then light some of your own firecrackers. Don’t bite your tongue to be polite if someone hurts your feelings and don’t keep your pain to yourself if it’s eating you alive.
All life explosions don’t have to be bad ones either. I’ve had many good fireworks displays in my lifetime and I’m looking forward to seeing more as the years go by.
Live your life fearlessly.
Don’t be afraid of the pink slip because it just means a better job is around the bend. Don’t run from the haircut, in fact tell them to take another inch. And if you get stuck in charm school, soak it up and then run through the mudholes in your bare feet on the way to the bus stop.
Get out there and live and learn and love all that this life has to offer. Let life explode in your face so you can feel the heat that comes from being alive.