Advice my father gave me…
Father’s Day, it’s this weekend. For all the lucky folks out there who have a father they love, make sure you let him know on Father’s Day how much he means to you. I was very blessed to have a father whom not only did I love and cherish, but also one who always let me know how deeply loved I was. No matter what was going on in my life – kids bullying me in school for being dyslexic, boyfriends breaking my heart, work pushing me to the brink of insanity – no matter what obstacles I faced, my dad always put things in perspective, made me feel safe, but most importantly… I never once questioned his love for me. Being loved by your parents is such a tremendous gift; really, it is.
My father was funny, jovial, and always had a way of putting everyone at ease. He had a kind and generous heart—and even though he was an extremely forgiving and understanding human being—his bandwidth for bullshit had its limits.
Jealousy and gossip are two things that can destroy lives. When I was 13, my class had its ‘study period’ taken away due to several of my classmates’ incorrigible behavior. Instead, we were forced to take a remedial math class— one that didn’t count towards our GPA. It was basically a punishment for unruly behavior, but I looked at it as a way to try and learn or rather re-learn concepts that I was having issues with, as my dyslexic mind struggled with all concepts Math-related. Well, when the semester ended, the teacher decided to give us a mark regardless, but it was only for EFFORT, and not for achievement. So, when my two best friends—who were Math geniuses—got A’s, and when I got the A+, they were pissed. Their pissed-selves decided that little Janell was the teacher’s pet, and they set about to basically destroy me. They started rumors about me, and within a few months not one single girl in the entire 9th grade would talk to me. I remember, with incredible clarity, walking into my classroom after gym class one day, to find all the girls in my class, huddled in the back of the room whispering. When I sat down in my seat, the whispers abruptly stopped. There was absolute silence in the room. I knew that they had been talking about me. So, I got up to leave as I felt uncomfortable, and when I started to walk out the door, they all applauded.
Truly, this was one of my worst ‘bullying’ Mean Girl life moments. I was so ashamed of what was going on at school that I never told my parents. Instead, I kept it bottled-up inside, and eventually fell sick from the trauma, ending up with viral pneumonia from the stress of it all. I was hospitalized for almost a month, and almost died.
When I had finally recovered and had to go back to school, I was nervous to face everyone, as by this time the Principal had confronted my nasty so called ‘best-friends’ and everyone else involved in torturing me. I was worried that not only would going back to school be hard on me, but that most likely I would never be able to convert any of these girls back to being friends with me.
AND MY FATHER SAID…
“Why would you want to be friends with any of these girls?” “When you see a crack in the foundation, you don’t buy the house.” He went on to tell me that when you see someone’s true character, and you don’t like what you see, that you just need to move on and leave that person behind; the same way you wouldn’t purchase a house that had an unstable foundation, as most likely the house would be too costly to fix, or unfixable. I, obviously, had seen what all of these girls were made up of, and how easy it had been for them to convince the entire 9th grade female student body to hate me, and how easily the other girls followed suit and turned on me. So, I put my ‘big girl pants on’, gutted up, went back to school, and little by little found some new friends.
It was a tough life lesson, one that is painful even to this day. Yet, I think my father’s wise words are a good metaphor for life. When you discover something about someone and when what you uncover truly tears at the core of your soul, something that bothers you deeply on many levels, you just have to let this person go. Being around someone you can’t genuinely trust, is as my father said, “a vexation to your soul.”
So, I take my dad’s advice. I still give people enough rope to hang themselves, but when I see that someone is untrustworthy, dishonest, calculating, devious or when someone’s ‘chemically-dependent- demons’ make me feel vulnerable and unsafe, I eventually phase them out of my life. You don’t have to make a big deal or a big scene, you just let them go. You should only allow people around you who are mentally and emotionally healthy, and who have integrity and strength of character. When you let go of the negative people in your life, you open up space for great positive ones to flow in.
So, on this Father’s Day, take time to show your dad how much you love him. My father was such a rock in my life, one whose love and support I likely took for granted, as I believed I would have him for at least another 30 years before I had to worry about him leaving this earth. I was robbed of my father, as was my entire family, when he passed away at 60 years of age.
When you lose someone whom you love so much, and when the pain is unbearable, and people say things like… that the person is in your heart, or time will heal all wounds, you literally want to punch them in the face, because you are in such tremendous pain that you can’t even wrap your sorrow around that thought. But it is true, time does heal all wounds; or, at least it softens them. Even though my dad is no longer here, he truly is always in my heart: the lessons he taught me and the love that he gave me, has shaped me to be the person that I am today, and it keeps me strong.
So thanks Dad, I know you are watching over me, as I do feel you around me at times. Plus, I have a core that is made up of all the good stuff that you gave me: love, compassion, understanding, work ethics, dedication and honesty.
I hope you are proud of the woman that I am still becoming.
Happy Father’s Day everyone; always cherish the love that is around you, as love is our greatest gift! And remember… No more BULLSHIT in your life!
Below is the audio link for your listening pleasure! xo
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