Monthly Archives: July 2014

Birthday Boy

 

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Celebrated hubby’s birthday.

Cooked him a nice lasagna meal with the family.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Hard to believe that this good-looking boy

would waltz into my life one day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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As an added bonus, gave hubby a surprised party with friends the next day.

 

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He completes me.

He had a rugged, but kind, short-bearded face

Happy Birthday, Mark.

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“Dun You Forget.”

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Into my pre-teen years—although I tried to hide my true feelings—I became self-conscious that developed into a guarded inferiority complex. While not shy as my mother had been, I felt like an outcast: I came from a broken home, my family was poor, and I was still on the school’s free lunch program. My clothes were hand-me-downs. We didn’t own a car. I didn’t even own a bike, although I always wanted one. We didn’t go on vacations like to Disney World the other kids bragged about, nor could we afford the latest trends or luxuries as others.

As I wrestled with these feelings of mediocrity, I became ashamed of my Puerto Rican heritage. I didn’t play the blame-game, but felt second-rate, forever on the outside looking in. I determined not to let anyone see through my brittle exterior to see a weakling. In school, because I didn’t feel part of the “in” crowd, I enviously watched as the popular kids were voted for class president, vice-president, or secretary. In my mind, I believed the ritzy kids went to summer camps, swimming lessons, and Girl Scout meetings. After all, they paid for their school lunches, not the state. They wore the latest fashions, not hand-me-downs. Their straight pearly whites glistened when they smiled. They even pronounced their words perfectly. They lived in big houses whose parents had “nest eggs.”

“Some are more privileged than others,” Grandma explained to me. “But we are all the same in God’s eyes.”

I wasn’t about to argue with Grandma’s statement. All I knew was that there never seemed to be enough funds to do anything extra. My grandparents were extremely frugal. They didn’t believe in splurging or in keeping up with the Joneses.

In the early seventies, several public schools were still racially unbalanced, so the federal courts stepped in. Miami’s school districts bused students from one neighborhood to another to achieve integration.

Busing made my life plummet from bad to worse. I attended Miami Shores Middle School, a predominantly white school where kids commonly called Hispanics “spics.”

Because I was Puerto Rican descent, I was the target of their taunting. “You spic English?” they scoffed, using their favorite line. They even gave me grief about my naturally full-sized lips (something others now pay money to have done).

To make matters worse for me, my grandma—unpretentious and a bit old-fashioned— insisted I wear dresses to school past my knees, even though other girls wore the trendy mini-skirts and mini-dresses. Almost all my clothes were second-hand, and at eleven years old—going on twelve—that bothered me.

“Grandma, this isn’t what the girls wear nowadays!” I groaned.

“Dis is what you’re wearin’, and you shouldn’t be ashamed. Your clothes are clean and pressed,” she said with finality in her usual accent.

I threw up my hands. “Grandma, you’re gonna make me get into fights!”

“You are a Christian girl,” she retorted, her eyes wide and fierce. “Dun you forget that.”

* * * *

Thanks to you, Grandma, I haven’t forgotten.

I’ll always remember my beloved grandma who passed away in the eighties, whose birthday would have been July 26th . In her simplicity, she impacted my life and instilled in me values and principles I shall never forget. 

© M.A. Pérez 2014, All Rights Reserved

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UnMask

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All throughout my life, I’ve dealt with feelings of low self-esteem and self-worth. I felt undone, incomplete, or insignificant. Along the way, I realized this stemmed from my childhood. I did not ask for it. I certainly did not want it. But with an undeniably painful past and a seemingly questionable future, I muddled through life. I thought a man could save me, but he only tried to make me into his own image! I became his shadow, worshiped the ground he walked on, subservient to his every whim. I was truly lost, with no identity, no voice – no me. Yet I held on, not wanting to lose him then. By the way, that’s a perfect example of insecurity: the more easily threatened we are, the more insecure we are.

Beth Moore says: “Insecurity lives in constant terror of loss.” As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been reading Beth Moore’s So Long, Insecurity with the subtitle you’ve been a bad friend to us. Wish she wrote this book 40 years ago! She says that insecurity is not only a woman’s battle. She identifies insecurity as a “profound sense of self-doubt – a deep feeling of uncertainty about our basic worth and our place in the world. The insecure man or woman lives in constant fear of rejection and a deep uncertainty about whether his or her own feelings and desires are legitimate.”

I thought about myself as a Christian, why from time to time do I still struggle with insecurities? Why does rejection crush me so? Why do I second guess everything? Beth reveals an interesting point about herself in her book: “I not only lack security, I also lack faith. I don’t just doubt myself, I also doubt God about myself.

Now I don’t know about you, but that struck a core in me!

She goes on to say how some of us never seek healing from God for our insecurities because we feel like we don’t fit the profile. But insecurity’s best cover is perfectionism. Now there’s a mask for you!

What masks are you prone to wear? Looking back, I recall hiding the pain behind my smile.

A woman who has no self-worth or a low self-esteem tends to hide behind a mask. 

 Note: Here’s a poem I came across: Don’t Be Fooled By Me

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July 6, 2014 · 6:30 PM