When I was about 12 years old I went to visit the country I had left years before.
To my chagrin and the delight of a mean-spirited cousin, I could no longer speak my
“mother tongue” and he teased me mercilessly and humiliated me every chance he got.
I am sure he did not consider himself a bully by any stretch but to me, it was
devastating to find that someone I formerly really liked as one of my few favorite
family members, could be so absolutely nasty.
I made a decision that day, I would return to my new country but do my utmost to
regain my ability to speak the other language. And boy did I! I picked up newspapers,
saw movies, watched television, and decided to make friends of many people who spoke
the other language. Fast forward almost 50 years and I can today boast that my language
skills by far surpass my cousin’s even though he only speaks the one language! Life has
treated me better (in MHO) than it has him and I am grateful for all the lessons I have
learned from this episode.
Every head is a world goes the saying (which doesn’t translate really well but…) and
in the years that followed my cousin’s remarks and actions, I learned to become empathetic,
to feel deep in my soul what another person goes through when they are publicly or
privately attacked and intimidated by someone just because that person feels he can.
I was too young to fight back; my aunt, his mother, believed it was all in fun so the
spoiled young man never really knew the effect his words had on me. In fact, his
words were the momentum I needed to improve myself and rather than feeling annoyed,
after many years, I realized what a tremendous favor he did me. Of course, years
later, he is still unaware of it.
In my life, I have had many occasions where people took advantage of me; many
of those people were those closest to me who should have actually been looking out for
my health and well-being. It didn’t kill me, it made me stronger but I will be the
first to admit, it made me feel utterly alone.
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