BELLA: Early

My dad used to burst into my bedroom, at dawn:30 a.m., throwing the door back with a bang, roughly yank all the covers completely off me and my bed, and cheerily spout, “Time to get uuuuuuuppp!!”

He thought he was being SO funny. N O T . But could I ever convince him of that? Or the way I felt terrified of him? Nope. He was a very big man. My space was totally violated, my privacy absolutely irrelevant to him. Nope.

Especially after I started filling in all the places little girls do when they get past a certain stage in their lives. I made my mother get me long flannel night gowns that looked like ones Granny would wear. In summer, cotton. Down to my ankles.

In this day and age when clothing seems to ride as far up near the crotch and down as far to the nips as possible, bare bellies sporting belly-button rings and all, you might think it strange that I grew up freaked out by body exposure. I still don’t like it. I’m OK with most people running around nearly nekked, but don’t ask me to do it.

Yes, I’ve done a bunch of inner work on that, but you know what? There are a lot of things way more important to think about.

Like how people seem to think it’s OK to cuss or yell at or even physically attack someone else for the most absurd reason.

Like how some are so entitled they think the rest of the world should think like they do, or call cops on people of color for nothing.

It’s so hard to deal with. When someone’s in your face, it’s so easy to take the same road and yell back. All that does is make things worse.

I run away if I can. If can’t, I stay quiet. If I can’t do that, I make a comment like, “Wow, you must be having a really bad day,” or something like that.

That can de-escalate a situation fast, helping the person to feel seen and heard. But it doesn’t always work.

I’m no miracle worker, but I keep the peace as much as I can, because I know it has to start with me. If I go off, I only join in to lower the vibes.

If I can keep my equanimity, I can be a reference point for calm, and the subsequent lifting of frequencies.

I can’t change the whole world, but I can change me, or at least stay calm in the face of mayhem. I had to learn how to do that to finally get it across to my father how I felt, because no amount of yelling, whining, or bitching at him worked.

You know what did it? I asked him how he’d feel if some man came into his and my ma’s bedroom and did the whole grab-the-covers thing to her.

You should have seen him turn beet red with rage at the very idea … and then … suddenly … stop, look at me, and get really, really quiet.

Long silence. His head down.

“I’m so sorry, honey,” he said, looking back up at me, actual tears in his eyes. “I’m so sorry.” He never did it again.

Peace, calm, and if not joy, at least gratitude. Those things work

BELLA: Early

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text & image © Angela Treat Lyon 2021

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