Open Your Heart the Rest Follows

Every year I've found myself staring perplexed at this trap I've created and barricaded myself into. I would stare at these massive walls, wondering how things are going to be different. Yet year after year I’ve found myself still feeling hopeless as I continued to stare back at the barriers I’ve built around myself. The only thing that seemed to be changing were the walls themselves. Over time they’ve thickened, making it harder for people to come in, and the more I secluded myself, the more the walls began to splinter with age. Even the windows were tainted.
I would sullenly watch as the others would be blissfully smiling and laughing together. I hated them. They all seemed to be a part of something I knew I would never be able to experience and I was left soundlessly sitting aside myself feeling completely alone. I hated myself the moment I became silent. I never used to be quiet. I used to be known as, “the social butterfly.” After being pinned down so many times however, I’ve forgotten how to use my wings.
I was so afraid that my past would repeat itself, so afraid that I would go another four years experiencing rejection and disappointment that I clipped my wings and crawled back inside my cocoon. For a while, I thought shutting out the world would make me feel better. It did for a while; it acted like a shield in times of war. Once the war was over however I was left feeling shell-shocked. I couldn’t unbind my wings even when I wanted to. The isolation merely added fuel to the fire of my frustration.
With each passing day I only grew more distant and was left feeling angrier than the day before. And even though there was no longer a war going on around me, that war, that fear still continued to live inside of me. For years, my past followed me around like phantom pains and I allowed them to control and steal away my happiness. I’ve spent so much time, so much wasted time living inside my past, living inside my fears that I forgot how to live.
It wasn’t until the end of this this year at my internship when I finally realized my problem. No longer was it the people pushing me away; It was me unconsciously pushing them away as a defense mechanism. It was then; I made a conscious decision that I would no longer live as a slave to my fears. My internship is what taught me how to face my fears. It was ultimately my internship that forced me to open up and by doing so; I’ve created homes away from home and memories that will follow with me for a lifetime.
My growth began the day I started my internship at the Lancaster Youth Bureau. There, I gradually found myself inching my way out of my cocoon. My very first day at my internship I found myself questioning what I got myself into!? I was faced watching 40 children ranging from first to third graders all by myself. Needless to say I was overwhelmed. However I noticed in that moment that I’m able to think quickly on my feet. After, a few weeks into my internship, while I was helping Mrs. Shanne distributing Easter baskets to families in need, she introduced me to a woman with a thick Spanish accent who came to pick up one of the baskets. Overhearing the two talking about the woman needing a babysitter, Mrs. Shanne told the woman that I would be willing to babysit.
At first I thought she was kidding. I mean that was my first time meeting this woman! Not to mention I knew nothing about her children. Quickly realizing Mrs. Shanne was being serious and despite my initial feelings of nervousness, I told the woman that I would be happy to help. At first I was reluctant to say yes, but being someone who has a hard time saying no I accepted the challenge. As soon as I walked into her home I was greeted by the most adorable black lab named Chase.
The woman whose name is left confidential, told me everything I needed to know, such as the kids names, what time they should eat breakfast and lunch, as well as the rules of what the children can and cannot do. Trying to understand what she was saying through her thick accent, I felt as though I was being bombarded with all this new information all at once and as soon as she left I forgot the children’s names. Instinctively, I began looking around the house, hoping that a photograph would tell me what the children’s names were. Luckily there were. This is only one story I have with this family.
I’ve been babysitting and helping their family since and I’ve noticed as much as I've been helping them, they've been helping me in return. There were so many people I've met this year that have left an everlasting impact on and have helped me in more ways than I could’ve ever helped them. Ordinary people meeting angels in disguises.
Next year will be different, because today I am making a promise to myself. No longer am I going to be a product of my past; and even though it’s a part of me, I will no longer let it define me. It’s time for me to let go and let live and start taking baby steps towards becoming that butterfly again. And perhaps these phantom pains will always resurface; I’m just learning not to let the pain paralyze my spirit.





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