Beautiful…and a little dangerous
It can mean different things, but if you go back to its origin, her name means ‘lily’ or ‘rose’. Most often her name is taken to mean ‘beautiful’. And she was, probably still is, but it’s been quite a few years since I’ve seen her.
She was a student at the alternate school for at-risk teens where I was working. My first day on the job I walked into the classroom and she was sitting at a table. She was lovely with flawless skin and deep chocolate eyes, then those eyes narrowed dangerously and she said, “What are you lookin’ at? See anything good?”
She was as smart as a whip, but she would tank every time she got a compliment. I mean she would literally quit working if she was praised for her effort. Or she would deliberately turn in an assignment that was absolute crap and she knew it, had made it that way on purpose. It was a level of self-sabotage I didn’t understand.
Most people thrive on positive reinforcement. Not that kid. It took months of building trust and establishing a relationship to get her to accept even the smallest bit of encouragement.
Life had not been kind. Experience had taught her that people who told you good things would eventually somehow use it against you, crush you with it. Her sweet and tender heart had been barricaded against the world. She built walls to keep people out and should anyone venture too close she would shove them back.
When I made the difficult decision to change jobs she quit talking to me. Completely. She didn’t even say goodbye on my last day. The day I told the kids I was going to a new school her last words to me were, “What you don’t love us anymore?”
I don’t have a lot of regrets but hurting her, even unintentionally, is one.
It never ceases to amaze me how different our reactions can be to something.
Over the past few years I have watched hundreds of families come and go from the funeral home where I work. The common denominator for them all is loss; each of them has experienced the loss of someone they loved. That’s basically where the similarities end because their response to that loss is different every single time.
Some families cry – naturally – but many laugh, some are storytellers, occasionally they are business-like, others are bewildered and lost, some can barely bring themselves to cross our threshold. Each one of them experiences their loss differently.
We are all, each one of us, the sum of our cumulative experiences. The way we experience relationships, how we respond to challenges, the manner in which our personality has developed – all these things affect the way we respond to life.
My two sons
I have two sons, born from the same gene pool, raised in the same home by the same two parents and yet they could not be more different.
When our oldest son called to tell me he had hit a moose with his car, I knew before he got past ‘Hey Mom’ that something big and bad had happened. I could hear it in his voice. (He was fine by the way, just some dents in his car and a big rush of adrenaline and cortisol.)
Last night our youngest son called to tell us he had just been in a car accident. From his voice, you would have thought he was just calling to say he was grabbing supper in town and would be late, not that his car was totaled and he was calling from the back of an ambulance. (He’s fine too by the way, sore from the airbag deployment, but nothing major.)
Different…but the same
Different kids, different reactions.
I’m not sure why we expect people to react in certain ways to particular circumstances, worse yet we expect them to react the way that we would. We’re pretty quick to put our own expectations on people. But we are all different, unique, so before we stand in judgement for the way someone reacts or responds we would do well to take a step back and consider what has happened in that person’s life that could elicit such a response.
“What are you lookin’ at? See anything good?”
Yes, I do lovely one, yes I do.
Love and light…