Decades after graduating, I find myself back in high school (emotionally and mentally, if not physically).
A friend tagged me on a Facebook post about the death of one of my favorite teachers, “Mr. Y.”
I had Mr. Y for English and as faculty advisor for the Honor Society, and most importantly as a mentor and director in many theatre productions back in the day.
Mr. Y was a great sparring partner for me, dishing sarcasm and insights with equal poise. He challenged my rebellious nature and saw a light and potential in me that I didn’t grasp or embrace.
I’m sure I frustrated the hell out of him at times with my smart mouth and refusal to follow the rules. I delighted at poking the sleeping tiger. Perhaps to add more excitement into the dull days of school.
I was a good student (as in I did well in school, according to my report card) but wasn’t a motivated student in many of my classes. As a junior, I developed a crush on Mr. Y and felt special that a group of us would meet after school at his house and talk about theatre and other adult things.
Mr. Y had an iconoclastic streak and flair for the dramatic which I adored. So very different from the mostly buttoned up people I grew up with.
Drama in my family looked like yelling and arguments. Mr. Y drama was theatrical and tantalizing. I was a moth to the flame, thus the crush, I suppose. Alas, my reality shattered when another male friend delivered the crushing blow, “Don’t you know that Mr. Y is gay?”
Shit, another guy that beckoned to my heart turned out to be gay. A theme that repeated several times in my life.
The teen me thought it was my fault that a guy I dated and liked
then came out as gay.
It fed the belief that there was something wrong with me.
The "something wrong with" coupled with "it’s your fault" and "you’re not good enough." The wound deepened and more walls went up.
After several infatuations with gay guys, I decided that perhaps the message was I, too, was gay. So I played with that a bit. It was the 60s after all. Nope, that wasn’t the message at all!
The real message hit at a fundamental level.
It was all tied to me believing that something was wrong with me and not loving myself. Ouch.
That belief caused me to be needy about love (needing the love and approval of others at a serious cost to my personal wellbeing and self-esteem).
That combo (thinking something was wrong with me and not loving myself) showed up in interesting ways throughout my life.
I talk and teach about this all-to-common pattern which is part of my core message. Yes, my personal journey became my message and mission to help others to see they are OK as is and can love themselves as is too!
Back to high school…
Mr. Y once infuriated me by pulling me aside one day after class and coldly stating
“When you die, the epitaph on your gravestone will read
‘Here lays Karen Martin. She did not live up to her potential’.”
I was stunned silent.
Quite a feat, since back then I always had a snappy comeback and loved to get in the last word.
It was a knife to the heart.
Over the years I carried his weighty words about my life, vacillating between thinking it an indictment or a prophecy.
Oh the power of words, do not underestimate them!
Nor the power of our interpretation of words.
I realize now, that although
one part of me wanted to prove him wrong...
(and being a fiery redhead, wanted to shove his face in it and say
“so there, asshole”)…
but, because I admired the man,
another part of me wanted to prove him right,
and that sabotaged my writing and other artistic expressions.
Over the course of your life, how many words have you taken to heart in a misguided or misunderstood way?
And believed them to be true?
You then set out to make them true because you cared about the person who said it to you (a parent, friend, lover, spouse, child, teacher, etc.).
We all do this unconsciously or subconsciously. It creates our patterns and behaviors.
It also confounds us.
We don’t understand why we do what we do or don’t have what we want.
Today I have a new awareness of his words to me.
It was a last ditch effort to wake me the fuck up and inspire me or motivate me to reach for the brilliance that was untouched within me and go for the gold.
Dream the impossible dream.
And fucking do it.
Apparently the teenage me misinterpreted many things and added them into my subconscious operating system so they could snipe at me and derail me when I came too close to embracing, expressing, and living my light and my art.
So Thank You Mr. Y for caring enough about this crazy redhead to try and kick my ass back on the rails.
At the time I was too hell bent on rebelling and rejecting others before they could reject me to notice or understand your gift.
You are a treasure in my life.
May you have many standing ovations and curtain calls in this new journey you’ve embarked on. And may you feel the love so many you touched have for you.
You are missed. You are appreciated. You are loved. Fare-thee-well, old friend.
So... how about you?
Is there a teacher, mentor, neighbor, friend or someone else in your life that believed in you, saw something special in you or encouraged you in some way?
Today I invite you to express your appreciation to them.
You could call them, write a note, send an email, or just speak your gratitude for them out loud in the privacy of your home.
Whether they are near or far or have passed on, please know that somehow (even on an energetic level) they will get your message.
You may make their day.
Respect the power of words.
Your words to yourself and to others and their words to you. Always always pause before drinking them in. Is this true? Or is it simply an opinion, a judgement, an observation or a point of view? Stop assuming and interpreting. When unsure, ask for clarity.
with love & blessings & appreciation for you,
PS. If you’d like someone who has walked in your shoes to help you with feeling Safe Being You and worthy of love, I'm available for private sessions, in person, phone or Skype. If you're not sure, let's have a conversation to see if we’re a good fit.
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