Tag Archives: fear

Fairy Tale or a Cinderella Complex?

Excerpt from Chapter 12 of
Running in Heels: A Memoir of Grit and Grace

He pranced round the corner.

His arresting, mystifying air captivated me: suave, debonair, and oh, quite a looker. I thought, I’ll stroll on by and check him out. Quickly making mental notes: tall, dark, high cheekbones, broad shoulders–

He turned with a mischievous grin, showing dimples! I averted my eyes and sauntered on by. He whistled. A warm sense of elation swept over me as I thought: He seems older; more mature than the other boys I’ve dated. Surely, this one has already sown his wild oats. I didn’t grasp how much older until later. But at the time I didn’t care.

He was a native of West Indies, thirty-two years old and born on June 6, 1943. If he had claimed that a year after he was born they had named a memorable day on his behalf, calling it D-Day—the “D” standing for Don—I would have believed him. Starry-eyed, I hung on to his every word. He could have said he hung the moon, and I wouldn’t have doubted him.

Cinderella-and-Charming-cinderella-and-prince-charming-31472131-900-654

photo credit: Brianna Garcia

That was me in another life.

Once upon a time, I envisioned men made decisions and had more power over women. So when he came along, I depended on him for my sanity, security and stability. He would make me whole. Do you know, this theory makes women choose to stay in dysfunctional relationships?

I’ve since read that some women fear independence. Say what? Yep. Oh, they may think they’ve got it all together and are brave and self-sufficient enough, but the bottom line is they have an unconscious desire to be taken care of by others. This was obviously me!

I thought I had found myself a knight in shining armor and allowed him to whisk me away, and soon became a teenage bride to a sweet-talking, hard-hitting man twice my age. He didn’t show much love, nurturing or tenderness, but was harsh and fed on my low self-esteem. His motto: “I’m the man, you’re the woman.” He had a twisted notion on submissiveness. Before I knew it, like a doormat, I was constantly being walked on while becoming subservient to his every whim. I did not respect him. I feared him. Yet, I remained in that relationship fifteen years.

My smile hid the pain in my heart, as well as makeup did the bruises on my face. It would be years of trials and four precious children later, before I found the courage to stand on my own two feet and the courage to walk away from an abusive marriage.

A few years ago, the best help book given to me on marriage was: “Love & Respect” by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs. He refers back to Ephesians 5:33: “However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” There are a lot of nuggets in this one book. Eggerichs suggested that love alone is not enough for marriage. In a nutshell: A wife has one driving need — to feel loved. When that need is met, she is happy. A husband has one driving need — to feel respected. When that need is met, he is happy.

I am happy to report that after being a single mom, I eventually re-married. For nearly 24 years, I’ve been married to a wonderful, caring and loving man. God does answer prayers! I am grateful that through all our struggles we are committed to one another, no matter what. I’m no expert, but I can say no marriage is so good that it can’t be made better. We constantly work on this love and respect thing, as well as forgiveness, because neither one of us is perfect.

So I ask you:

  • What practical ways make a healthy marriage?
  • What is your idea of how love is expressed in marriage?
  • How important is self-worth?
  • Define some unrealistic expectations.

And while we’re on the subject of fairy tales … maybe I’ll touch on my thoughts on the Peter Pan syndrome at a later date.

© M.A. Pérez 2018, All Rights Reserved

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Filed under Cinderella Complex, Relationships

“God, I’m drowning!”

One hot, sticky summer afternoon we thrill-seekers strolled along Haulover Pier. The boys horsed around and dared one another to hop into the ocean, some ten, fifteen feet below. Not only was I skittish about heights, I never learned to swim.No Swimming

The boys jumped in one by one, hooting and hollering, and the girls followed. The one rule: Whoever dawdled – shoved over the side. For the benefit of all who considered me fair game, I gave all nearby a fair warning at the top of my lungs, “I Can’t Swim! Don’t Even Think About It!”

The words were no sooner out of my mouth than when a prankster shoved me over the edge. I careened into thin air and plummeted into the waters below. The deep, turquoise ocean slammed onto my face and chest, the air sucked right out of me. A solitary thought came to mind as I sank into the murky depths:

Not this, again! 

I was seven years old when my new friend, Gina, and her mom invited me to a public pool. Gina’s mom wore headbands and tie-dyed psychedelic tee shirts. Mama had labeled her a “free-spirited hippie.” I thought she knew how to have fun.

Not used to being in the water, I lay contentedly on my stomach along the edge of the pool, watching the others dive and swim.

Behind me, the hushed voice of Gina’s mom urged her to do something. How I envied Gina. She had a mother to encourage her, who enjoyed the pool instead of going out all night and sleeping during the day.

“Go on.” I heard Gina’s mom say, closer now.

Suddenly, thud! Someone shoved me over the edge.

Splash! The cold water slapped me.

The water smacked my face and swallowed me. My mouth, my eyes popped open. I saw underwater for the first time. My nose burned from the chlorine. I pushed and pulled to get air, get air!

I surfaced and tried to gasp out the word help, but water filled my mouth.

A man jumped in and pushed me toward the shallow end. I barely had the strength to hold onto the rail and reach the steps. Weak and trembling from the cold, I grabbed my towel and wrapped it around me.

Gina’s face turned pale, her eyes gawked wide with terror. I plopped down on a chair, too stunned to move, too ashamed to speak. Then I heard Gina’s mom say, “I can’t believe she couldn’t swim.”

Six years later, I still couldn’t.

As I floundered toward the surface, my eyes were burning, my throat raw. When my mouth opened, I gulped more seawater.

Choking!

I couldn’t catch my breath.

God, I’m drowning! Help me!

My lungs screamed for air. My muscles burned. I felt like lead.

So weak . . .

The current swept me farther from shore.

Too far . . .

Suddenly, a pair of hands reached for me. I saw arms. I clawed at them desperately—wildly climbing over the shoulders and heads of anyone brave enough to come near. I nearly drowned my rescuers. After an eternity, someone pulled me until I reached shallow water.

With what strength left, I paddled to shore and collapsed on the beach. The others followed and dropped next to me. Their expressions showed concern.

“That . . . that was close,” Earl croaked, coughing up mucus.

“Yeah,” his brother, John, chimed in. “We thought you were a goner for sure.”

“Man. You nearly took us down with you!” Sandra choked.

“I told you!” I grumbled. “I told you all I couldn’t swim.”

“Man, we didn’t believe you really couldn’t.”

I hated being afraid, feeling out of control.

Determined to overcome my fear of drowning, several months later, I learned to float and dive off the diving board. Although never a strong swimmer, I enjoyed swimming races underwater.

I conquered that fear.

(After having a couple of near drowning incidents – one as a youngster and one in my teens – I’m thankful for God looking out for me and giving me a way of escape. Later in life, I took swimming lessons with my own kiddos.)

An excerpt from Running in Heels – A Memoir of Grit and Grace

© M.A. Perez, 2013, All Rights Reserved

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Filed under Drowning, teenagers