Picture it, a sunny day in the spring of 1994. I was in Mrs. Pierce’s second-grade class. It was one of the first warm days of the year and that meant recess outside!
I skipped to the playground with my friends, laughing and full of anticipation for thirty minutes of pure bliss. My excitement was soon tempered by a terrifying buzzing sound.
Within seconds I felt a sharp sting on the top of my right hand. I looked down just in time to see that black and yellow creature stab me. I quickly swatted it away, but the damage was done. As recess continued, I felt the pain swell into the big red bump.
I quickly covered up my right hand with my left. Rather than wait my turn for a whirl on the tire swing, I stood off to the side. I didn’t want my classmates to see this.
The whistle blew and we marched our way back inside the classroom. My hand throbbing in pain. Tears welled up in my eyes, but I quickly wiped them away when nobody was looking. I returned to my desk and covered my hand with my jacket.
I would go on to sit at my elementary school desk for 3 more hours in silent pain. It felt like someone had torched a knife and then stabbed the burning blade into my hand. I couldn’t concentrate on anything other than the pain I was in.
However, I never spoke up. I was too embarrassed. I didn’t want to let anyone know I was in pain. I was already the fat kid. There was no way I was going to be the “cry baby” now too. I was a big boy now and could handle this. Even though all I wanted was my mommy and daddy.
That afternoon when my mom picked me up, she looked down and saw my swollen hand. We rushed home and applied ice while my dad pulled the stinger out. The relief was almost instantaneous.
I found myself reflecting upon this experience as a bee circled my head on my morning walk today. Here I was in second grade, already trying to “man up”. I was ashamed to let anyone know I was in pain, even though I did nothing wrong.
This same theme would play out time and time again throughout my adult life. As the pain intensified so did my resolve to stay silent. I couldn’t ask for help or acknowledge it because I felt shame and I feared that others would see me as weak.
Just like in second grade, help was there and as soon I received it my pain eased. But why did it take me so long? Simple, I listened to the stigmas and stereotypes, even as early as eight years old.
My life changed the moment I embraced my true authentic self. The one who now embraces and expresses his emotions, even in those moments of intense pain.
'Bee' kind to yourself and to others! You never know the pain they may be hiding.