Friday, November 29, 2013

A Holiday Reflection

Each year as the holidays approach, I can’t help but notice an increase in the number of unfortunate people weaving through our society and it bothers me. It bothers me because I know I am unable to help them and, of course, I know I can’t help everyone. I am also wise enough to realize that some of them wouldn’t want my help even if I could help them and that in itself is cause for sadness. Often times, I find myself wondering what may have caused them to be living the lives they are. Was it drugs, alcohol, abuse or loss of family or loved ones? The reasons could be many and extremely complex but it all seems to boil down to a true loss of hope; loss of hope in themselves; loss of hope due to lack of employment; or loss of hope with a society that keeps promising better lives for all but never seems to encompass everyone. As a result of my reflection on the matter, I wrote the following poem:

Shadows Amongst Us

Up each morning
They follow routine
Arrange slovenly selves
Though not much fuss
Those days passé

With gnarled fingers
They gather their things
And ready for adventures
They’ll encounter
Throughout their day

First stop’s the diner
To get a cup of joe
Maybe a muffin
Or a doughnut
No one really knows

Shopping’s next
Never varies
They prowl their domain
With predacious eyes
For a good score

Weather’s no factor
They’ve braved it all
Though a few times
They’ve flirted
With sickness and death

They have no friends
No else cares
Except to grab
What they can
When opportunity arises

They’re alone
Yet replicas of thousands
All outcasts
And all
By-products of society

Shadows amongst us
Of something gone wrong
They scavenge dumpsters
For garbage and clothing
And live in cardboard boxes

Quite content
With their paltry existence
Who snub the contributors
And condescenders of their kind

It’s a tough life
One chosen or not
For reasons
Only they can explain
But never do

Up each morning
Society follows routine
Vowing changes
Without truthful conviction
Those days passé 

Chelle Munroe©
November 29, 2013

Monday, November 25, 2013

A Special Time of Year

Personal Essay

Hello Everyone and Happy Thanksgiving!

       It’s that time of year again when the holiday season seems to rush in like a tsunami and we can get so busy preparing for those special days that we almost don’t get to enjoy them when they do arrive.  Nevertheless, they are special and they bring out heartfelt memories and warm thoughts about the people we love.
Thanksgiving is extra special because it helps us reflect on all the reasons we have to be thankful.  Thankful to God for having blessed our lives with family, friends, prosperity, good health and everything that touches us to make our lives more meaningful.  It brings about laughter and joy of family gatherings; and excited anticipation of the Advent and Christmas season to follow.
However, it is also a time of mixed feelings because of the difficulties we sometimes battle due to health reasons affecting us or a family member; or the loss we feel for those people who have died and are no longer with us to share the day or the beautiful season ahead.  Then there are those who have decided to no longer be a part of our lives and with each passing day the chasm seems to become more and more impossible to bridge. 
This year, I will celebrate the holiday season with somewhat mixed feelings; the main reason being that I still miss my Mom dearly and won’t be sharing the day with family. That situation creates an emotional pain and numbness within that is not easily dismissed or forgotten.  Needless to say, it is a difficult time and a bit tough to deal with, but once the day is behind, the pain becomes less and less until I no longer feel the sadness.
Another reason attributing for my mixed feelings is due to the emptiness created from the loss of love of some family members and the relationship with some friends.  Having gone through many changes in my life, especially over the last few years and most dramatically in the past year, I knew the possibility of being on the outside looking in existed. I say this because these changes have resulted in some family members and friends making the decision to alienate from me.  Some, although professing their support and friendship, have drifted away and no longer contact me.  On occasion, when we have met, they extricated themselves from my presence as quickly as possible as though I had the plague.  Others have simply resorted to shunning me completely.  Needless to say, both situations have hurt because, after all, I am still a person with feelings and still the same person in my heart that I have always been.  I have done nothing wrong nor have I affronted any of them.
A dear friend of mine once taught me that when things happen, ask myself this question:  “What is it that God wants me to learn from this?”  That one little phrase is the catalyst for this letter.  I have come to know in my heart that God knew exactly how and in what direction my life would take and that He loves me just the same.  I know in my heart that He wants me to pray for those who have chosen to judge me.  He wants me to pray that they may grow in strength and trust in their faith and to love others as He loves them.  Most importantly, God wants me to forgive and love them just the same.  Thankfully, I have reached that milestone.
This is the Beautiful Thanksgiving gift God has given me this year.  I am so thankful for all the people who have touched my life and been a part of it because my life undoubtedly has been enriched through my relationships with them.  They were before, and are now, a blessing in my life because I am learning that through their decisions to sever their relationship with me I can become a stronger person with a stronger character as I continue my journey to live my life honestly.  I have already realized how my faith and trust in God has strengthened and I’m relishing every bit of it. 
Lastly, I am so very thankful for all those who have bravely allowed their faith and trust in God to reach out to me with love, compassion, support and true friendship in spite of what others may say and feel about them for doing so.  There is no doubt I have been and continue to go through major changes in my life, but one thing is constant:  I have learned that my relationship with God is more beautiful and wonderful than it has ever been; that my relationships with those family members and friends who are still here with me is honest, true and completely sincere; and lastly, that I have the capacity to forgive and love beyond what I ever comprehended was possible.
Happy Thanksgiving to all and may all of you enjoy the blessings that God has and continues to bestow upon you and your families!

  With much love,

Chelle Munroe©
November 25, 2013

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

One Day

It was a beautiful Spring day so Sheila decided to go to Taylor’s Lane, a fantastic stretch of coastline in Little Compton, Rhode Island. She enjoyed the tranquil sound of the waves gently caressing the beach or rolling in with a thunderous show of might where they captured tiny stones and shells before dragging them with a somewhat musical clickety, clacking protest back into the sea. She also loved the smell of salt air because of the soothing, relaxing way it made her feel.
Once relaxed, it was customary for her to ponder different things about her life and in her life that made up her personality or character. She did this for no other reason but to examine herself in order to improve her relationships because she believed that family and friends were to be treasured. She also reasoned that in order to increase the number of friends she already had, she had to be attractive. Not attractive in the physical sense but in the heart; the spirit; and the way she treated others.
It wasn’t always easy to do as she sometimes would toss something back and forth in her mind, especially when she had to admit she had some faults and wasn’t the picture perfect person she hoped she could be. But Sheila also knew that it would be impossible to be perfect and, at times, actually found solace and excitement in knowing she wasn’t perfect because it made her completely equal to everyone else. Being equal was comforting as she neither wanted to feel superior or inferior to anyone else. Yet, even knowing she could not and would not be perfect, she disliked the fact that she had flaws.
As the seagulls would cry out their protests or excitement about what was taking place in their world, Sheila would think about ways to strengthen her character so she could be the kind of person others would respect and look up to.
One subject in particular that she often wrestled with was her penchant for shopping and the way she looked. It was as though she was treading on hallowed grounds because inasmuch as she loved to shop and prided herself in the way she looked, she was acutely cognizant of how those feelings bordered on being vain, which went against everything she had been taught growing up. Each time she battled with this matter, she found ways to justify her actions based upon the compliments she received from her peers. She rationalized that, as a woman, there was nothing wrong with enjoying a compliment and feeling good about oneself as long as it didn’t cross the line. If push came to shove, Sheila took consolation in knowing that deep within her soul, she would not enter the “dark” side.
Usually, by the end of her time of discernment, Sheila always counted the number of friends she had and relished in her heart that she was on the right road. It was a road that her mother started her on as a child and was reinforced by her Catholic upbringing and education. She had a good foundation to reflect upon and she always had the memory of her Mom to help her see the kind of lady she wanted to be and was becoming.
  Chelle Munroe©
  November 20, 2013

Monday, November 18, 2013

One Never Knows

On the Appalachian Trail,
An Indian guide
Despite having
Some problems,
Comes highly prescribed

Never Knows
Will get you
From this place
To that,
Providing, of course,
He knows
Where he’s at

He’s known to leave
On a Monday,
A Wednesday,
Again on a Friday,
Before finding his way
On the next Sunday

More often than most
Will dare ever say,
He gets somewhat
Goes completely astray

Six times
Took his party
For bears lean and spry,
Shot and missed
Being blind in one eye

Some days
No progress is made
They backtrack instead,
When his gimp leg opposes
The blind eye
In his head

He can’t tie a rope,
Pitch a tent
On the land,
Having arthritis
In fingers
And missing
One hand

But don’t judge
Too quickly,
Afford him some slack,
When days
May get lost
From the slipped disc
In his back

And should someone
Get hurt
And for help
Give a holler,
He’ll only appear
At the flash
Of a dollar

It makes no sense
For a hiker
Who goes,
To hire the guide
Never Knows

But you’ll never know
Till all’s
Said and done,
Why everyone claims
He’s the best one
For fun

A pure paradox
Yet readily shows,
Dreams can be lived
As one
Never Knows
Chelle Munroe©
November 18, 2013

Thursday, November 14, 2013

For The Good Times

While out shopping on a Tuesday afternoon a few years ago, I met an acquaintance of mine, Melody Agatha Paisley, a rather colorful person, and a genuine pain in the butt as well. True to her character, she was her usual self and came bubbling over to me with an equally bubbling smile and her pretentious schmoozing kisses.  I kept telling myself not to throw up and just smiled as amiably as possible.
Before I could say a word, she blurted loudly enough for half the world to hear, “Oh you have to come to my Holiday Dinner this weekend.  There’s going to be a lot of people there and I want you to be one of them.”
I knew this was a load of bull and that the only reason I was being invited was because she knew I had seen her and would eventually hear about the dinner and didn’t want to risk being portrayed negatively.  In addition, Melody just loved putting on airs and playing the “Most popular girl in town” role by filling her guest list with as many people as possible.  I felt bad for her husband Jack, who had voiced his hatred for the parties and the expense, while at the same time, I admired him for standing by her and supporting her.  Everyone knew that if it weren’t for Jack’s money, Melody would have been shopping at the thrift and consignment shops like so many others.
Truth be told, I, too, hated her dinner parties as well because to me, they were nothing short of boring.  Melody had a knack for inviting the dullest people around and when she did invite someone of interest, you couldn’t get near them because she would be draped all over them or parading them around the room like a trophy for all to see.  It was sickening if not painful to watch.
I was suddenly yanked back to the moment when I heard Melody saying, “See you Friday at seven.”  Without giving me a chance to respond, she dashed away in her whirlwind fashion. It was a minute or so later before I collected my thoughts and proceeded to do my shopping.
For the rest of the day my thoughts kept getting invaded with Melody’s words and I decided I would indeed attend her Holiday Dinner.  I had three days to pick out my outfit and had a pretty good idea what I was going to wear. I went to bed that night and slept peacefully.
I spent the next three days hunting down the items to complete my ensemble and when I laid them all out on the bed, I smiled with complete satisfaction.  I was like a kid filled with excitement when I went in the bathroom to shower, thinking, “this is going to be the night of nights”.
As it turned out, luck was running with me when I arrived at Melody and Jack’s house.  A couple I had never seen before were entering and I hurriedly got right behind them so I wouldn’t have to make a solo appearance.
When I walked into the large living room where all the guests were seated or milling around, they all stopped what they were doing to stare at me.  By the expressions on their faces, one would have thought that a demon had decided to possess me.  I smiled widely displaying a missing tooth, having skillfully blackened it with Halloween makeup.
But that was only part of it for I was sporting jeans with the bottoms cut-off and the knees ripped out; a black top with a copper bra on the outside that would have made Madonna jealous.  It was fashioned and shaped to look like metal and with hooters so pointed, I could easily have passed as the human version of the front end on a 54 Cadillac.  
I capped it all off with large, gaudy gold plastic necklace and earrings and a silver wig.  Needless to say, I was quite the sight to see.  Once I let everyone have their fill of me, I loudly proclaimed, “Howdy, all!  Where’s the liquor?”
This was one time that I was thankful for Melody’s whirlwind actions.  Before I could take another step, she had grabbed me by the arm and immediately escorted me from the room, stuttering for words as we moved toward the door.  Jack had a smile on his face that, had Melody witnessed it, he would have heard about it for months afterwards.
I never received another invitation and, in fact, have never heard from Melody again.  I’ve seen Jack a few times and we laughed so hard, we had tears in our eyes. I asked him how the rest of the night went and he summed it up by saying, “Let’s just say I have seen happier faces at a eulogy."
   Chelle Munroe ©
    November 14, 2013

Monday, November 11, 2013

One of Those Moments

Have you ever had one of those moments where you get a doozy of a thought in your noodle and, for whatever reason, you just can’t let it go?  That’s exactly what happened to me one summer night. 
I was sitting at the kitchen table staring out the window at the fireflies dancing in and around the bushes and enjoying the magic of it all.  Even as an adult, it is fascinating to watch a firefly dart from one spot to another and it’s always fun when its light blinks out to try and guess where it will show up next.  Of course, the silly part of that thinking is that you can never be sure if it is the same firefly or not that appears.  It brought back memories from when I was a kid playing against an opponent and we’d swear on our lives that it was the same one and after minutes of challenging each other to prove it, which we never could; we’d simply laugh and continue on.
After awhile, when the action slowed, I thought I’d peruse the local paper and the supplements that came with it.  I flipped one of the pages, not really interested in it at all and was about to continue on when I caught a glimpse of a picture of dandelions and a honeydew melon. I thought it kind of strange to see the two together, but dismissed it thinking it was just a photo of summery things.
Some time later while washing dishes, I broke a fingernail and because it had broken so badly, I chose to clip it instead of using the emery board.  Out of the corner of my eye I caught sight of one dandelion peeking up from the page at me.  “Keep spying on me,” I said, “and I’ll give you a clip you won’t recover from.”
Naturally, it didn’t budge so I held the clippers closer to it.  “Oh, so you’re a tough guy, huh?    Clippers don’t intimidate you?  I can fix that you know.”
I took the clippers and proceeded to clip all the dandelions out of the picture leaving just the  honeydew melon resting on the grass. I crumpled the flowers up and tossed them aside.  “How do you like me now?” I taunted.
This is where the doozy of an idea comes into play, as if the above wasn’t a bit overboard and strange enough in itself.  I had been thinking of making a meatloaf before I got entranced with the fireflies and now I had this crazy vision of a different kind of meatloaf.
What if I could get the meatloaf to have the taste of honeydew melon in it?  And if I could, how good would it be?  The more I thought about it, the more it appealed to me and the more it appealed to me, the more it beckoned me to try it. Needless to say, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to posit an answer to that query.  The big question was: How would I go about incorporating the honeydew melon, with it having so much water, into the mixture of meat that didn’t call for any water at all?
That question plagued me throughout the night and it was in the subconscious mind while I was sleeping that the answer revealed itself.  I awoke the next morning with a mission in mind.  “I was going to make honeydew melon meatloaf!”
I contacted Lynette, one of my best friends who, for awhile, had gotten on a real health food binge and bought herself one of those dried fruit, vegetable things where you can dry all types of foods and make your own snack packs.
When she answered the phone, I said, "Hi, it's Beth." Then I asked, “Lynette, can that dried food maker you have dry honeydew melon?”
“I don’t know.  I never tried honeydew melon.  Hold on Beth while I check.”  A moment later she came back on and said, “Yeah, I can do it.”
“Good.  I’ll be over shortly.”
 Before she could say another word, I hung up the phone and made myself a coffee, had breakfast, then showered, got dressed and headed for the market to get a honeydew melon.  At Lynette’s, she explained that it would take some time to dry the melon which was fine with me as long as it gave me what I wanted.  Two days later, I got the call.
“You can get your honeydew melon,” she blurted as soon as I answered.
“I’ll be right over,” was all I said and was out the door excited about this new idea.
Lynette was waiting for me when I got there and as soon as I stepped into the house she hugged me and said, “I’m so happy you decided to get healthy.  You’re not going to believe how good it’s going to make you feel.  Trust me; you’ll be a new woman in no time flat.”
I wanted so much to tell her what I was up to but my desire to surprise her was greater and I kept my intentions to myself.  I also wanted to run out the door and head home to make the meatloaf but I had to do the right thing and visit a while.   I love Lynette to death but there are times when she could talk a dog off a meat wagon.
Two and a half  hours later I finally got home and started right in putting all the ingredients into a bowl, mixing it up and putting it in the dish.  My oven, though fairly new, seemed to be heating so slowly at that moment, that I felt like I could have cooked the meat faster with a match. Then, after checking it for the umpteenth time, it was ready.
The moment had arrived…the results of my efforts had come to fruition.  As if I were handling the most precious jewel in the world, I removed the baking dish from the oven and set it on the cooling rack.  I grabbed a plate from the cupboard, a knife and fork from the drawer and with all the reverence I could muster, I cut a slice of meatloaf and gingerly worked it out of the baking dish onto my plate.
Then I lifted a piece on the fork and blew on it with hurricane force winds to quickly cool it off before putting it in my mouth.  I’m not certain what it was I tasted on that first bite because there was no distinctive flavor to it.  Figuring it was due to it being too hot, I waited a minute or two before trying another piece.  That got my attention.
I’m not sure but I think I had asked God to forgive me for wasting so much food about a thousand times that day and somewhere deep inside I had the strangest inkling that God had something to do with it because it was God-awful.  After that second bite, I set the fork down and walked out of the kitchen afraid to even look at the “thing” I had created.  Out the window went all my dreams of becoming rich for inventing a new dish that would sweep the country.  Instead, I found myself wanting to sweep it into the garbage bucket.  Even that caused me anxiety because all I could picture was some poor pig eating it and getting deathly sick from it and the FBI tracking me down like some terrorist for poisoning the country’s food supply.
Luckily, the FBI didn’t come looking for me and I found peace once again staring out my window watching the fireflies flit about my backyard.  I also decided to leave the new recipes to the Betty Crockers of the world.
   Chelle Munroe©
   November 11, 2013

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Change and Invisibility

 Personal Essay

   Throughout my lifetime, whenever the subject has come up about a person's orientation or gender, I have heard people say, "I don't know what the big deal is all about because all they have to do is choose not to be that way.  It's easy." That statement and others like it still amaze me.                                                                                   

  In today's society with the vast amount of  testimony given by the psychiatric, medical and social services communities that a person's orientation or their gender identity is not something that is chosen but is the way a person is born, I find it difficult to fathom how that fact can still be ignored.

     On a number of occasions I have responded with: "Being as it is so easy and a choice, why don't you become a man/woman for a day?"

     Of course, they reply with "But I don't want to change."

     So I've asked, "But could you if you wanted to?" That usually gets a variety of looks. Some look puzzled; others seem confused; while others huff or sigh and remark that I'm just being foolish.

     Some have even expressed, "No, I can't just change like that. Besides, I wasn't born that way."
     Now you would think that with such a definitive answer as that, the light would go on and they would realize and understand the import of their words, yet for some strange reason, they don't. Even when I have commented and said, "So if you can't do it because you were born the way you are, what makes you think others can?"
     I won't waste your time by writing the numerous or offbeat answers I've gotten by that question. For those of you who are transgender or personally know a transgender person I would believe it to be a safe guess you have heard some or all of these things as well.
     For those of you who are just visiting my blog and are not familiar with transgenderism, I hope this posting will at least give you food for thought to be open and accepting of other people's way of life. For those of you who are unfamiliar with what a transgender person can go through, I will share some of the things from my life.
     Imagine yourself being invisible and no one can see you or hear you and no matter how much you cry out, no one knows you are there. Imagine those people you love looking right at you but never seeing you for who you really are.  This is what it was like for me growing up. And I'm not the only one.  Many transgender people have experienced the same thing, including Lana Wachowski, famed film producer -- notably the "Matrix" trilogy.
     From the time I was five years old and told my parents I was a girl and got a whack for being so stubborn about it and told never to mention it again, I was essentially invisible to them, because they had refused to see the real person in front of them, I felt isolated and disconnected from their love. I knew they loved me but I never felt their love embraced the whole me. Thankfully, the only things that helped me to get along without feeling totally dejected was my not understanding what I was feeling or why.
      The problem I faced with the inner confusion only worsened as I advanced into my teens. I still had no idea why I felt as I did and it became increasingly difficult to overcome the feeling that I was a freak. It wasn't until my friend Michael on his sixteenth birthday showed up dressed as a girl and told everyone that from that point on he wanted to be called Michelle. When the guys on the corner spit at her, called her every derogatory name there was and threatened to beat her up, I kept my mouth shut for fear that they would do the same to me. Inasmuch as I could relate to what she was going through, I refrained from having contact with her for months afterwards. I so much wanted to be in touch with her but was having a hard time trying to deal with my own ambiguous feelings. We finally did work things out which I will share at another time, but I brought this up because it reflects on the one aspect of the problems I and many others faced and continue to face--that is, bigotry and discrimination.
     One of the most difficult things a transgender person can go through is the isolation; the feeling like being on an island and disconnected from everyone and everything. This includes family and close friends because it is so difficult to tell them about how you really feel and how you want your life to be. In a sense, it is like asking them to accept the death of the familiar you and accept this new you. What most people do not realize is that when a person announces he/she is transgender, every single relationship they have changes, even if it is only the dynamics of the relationship. Every single relationship is put into jeopardy. Because of that fear of losing those relationships, many transgender people keep it quiet until it cannot be contained any longer. It is not a choice. We cannot change. We are who we are.
     In fact, many transgender people who, in an attempt to fit into society's "norm”, get married and have children. Many get married in an effort to quell the feelings that rage inside of them in hopes they will decrease and fade away. For most, the opposite is true. The desire and need to live as the opposite gender from which they were born becomes increasingly stronger with time. It is such a compelling need to be fulfilled, to be complete that some have breakdowns and others have committed suicide because they just couldn't face rejection. Everyone wants to be accepted.  For many, the fear of rejection, especially from family and close friends, can become so overwhelming that they see no hope of living happily or peacefully and thus resort to drastic measures.
     From those early days of childhood, well into my teens, I felt the deep hurt of being invisible. Every time I wanted to tell someone how I felt I would cringe inside at the thought of the outcome that such exposure would cause. For the longest time, I couldn't tell anyone because I didn't know what it was that I was feeling or going through and therefore couldn't explain or defend my feelings. That is a frustration that haunted me day and night.  I was never at peace with myself. There were conflicts inside of me that I neither understood nor was able to resolve; conflicts that multiplied and amplified with each passing day until I couldn't tell if I was going crazy or was already crazy.
     There were two times during my teenage years that I was visible. One of them was a positive reality when I was fifteen and the other was something I believed to be because of a purely negative experience that happened when I was fourteen years old. The negative incident at fourteen was when I was raped by three older teens. I honestly believed it happened because I had been visible to them; that somehow they knew I was really a female -- the "weaker sex".  That caused me to hate myself for many years afterwards and, as much as I wanted to be visible, I did the opposite and went way out of my way to hide my true self.
The other incident occurred when I was fifteen. It happened on the night Michael came out as Michelle. That night was the beginning and after three months of shunning her, I finally revealed myself to her and thus was visible. From that moment on, I craved to be visible to the world. I needed to be me. I needed to be free. I needed to be seen and loved for the real me. I still do and until that day comes when I can be complete, I will be still somewhat invisible.
This is a sampling on what it is like to be transgender for me. Of course, my being transgender encompasses so much more but it is my sincerest hope that these words will give you food for thought and help you to understand and be compassionate to those of us who suffer from GID – Gender Identity Disorder. Thanks for allowing me to share this with you.
   Chelle Munroe©
   November 9, 2013


Tuesday, November 5, 2013


Angela tilted her face toward the warm sunshine gleaming through the bus window. It felt good to finally be able to close her eyes and lean her head against the glass. It was a dream come true riding in a vehicle without a steel mesh barrier guarding the windows.
Ten long years she had existed in and survived the state prison system. It seemed a lifetime ago that she’d been convicted of manslaughter for killing her pimp. After numerous beatings from him, she had reached a point of no return. The case should have been dismissed, but a seedy career; an overworked public defender; and a zealous, newly appointed District Attorney, got her a ten year stretch; so much for the justice system.
Unlike many of the women who went home when released, Angela chose to travel in the opposite direction. Going home would have been nice, but after seventeen years, having run away at the age of fourteen, and her parents dead, she knew her brothers wouldn’t want the embarrassment of explaining her when she unexpectedly showed up on their doorstep. Besides, they were more like strangers now than family, which made her decision to stay away that much easier to make.
She opened her eyes in time to see a herd of cows out to pasture and smiled. A flood of memories washed over her. She shook her head thinking of those days of youth and innocence and rides in her father’s car. She thought of the many farms that were dotted along the road and the laughter and fun she shared with her family. She sighed. That was another life. Seeing the cows made her feel as though time had stood still for a brief moment. If only.
Angela averted her eyes and stared at her callused hands. The calluses were a gift from prison. Only this gift she didn’t feel bitter about because she had earned every one of them. They were her badge of honor and she was proud of them. The calluses represented the many hours of hard labor she put into making changes in her life. They were symbols of her future and reminders of where she’d been.
She checked her watch and calculated that less than two hours away she would be giving back by putting her newly acquired carpenter skills to the test – building homes for the New Jersey hurricane victims.
  Chelle Munroe©
  November 5, 2013

Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Ugly Truth

Personal Essay

The ugly truth; how many times I have had to face that reality about myself, but none more so than when I was just a kid.  Kids, as we know, can often times be cruel.  It doesn’t matter if it is today or from years ago, it is just a fact of life and not a pretty one at that.  Sadly enough, I cannot say that I was any different.  I know I wasn’t as bad as some of the others, but I also know I wasn’t as kind as some of the others either.

One situation, especially, comes to mind when I think about such things.  I was in fourth grade the first time such ugliness within me reared its head.  A girl, new to the school, came into the classroom and almost immediately, some began to snicker and laugh at her behind her back.  She was quite different than the rest of us which is why she stood out so much.

What made this girl different was a large reddish-purple birthmark on one side of her face that started at her eyebrow down to her chin and from the edge of her nose to almost her ear.  To further make her appearance a target for insults, she suffered from a severe case of acne.  Naturally, the girls in the classroom gave her condescending looks of disgust and turned their heads away to openly shun her and I pretty much did the same. As for the boys, well, the boys hurled many insulting and cruel remarks about her looks.  They weren’t said directly to her but were shared loud enough for her to hear.

These taunting remarks went on for a couple weeks, all of us waiting for her to break down and cry or just not show up one day.  To our surprise, she did neither one.  Not seeing a collapse, one of the girls decided to talk to her to discover what she was about.  I’ll never forget what transpired after that and how it changed my whole attitude and my views of others in a way that, although my parents and teachers had taught me the same, affected me for the rest of my life.

The birth defect and dark pigmentation of the girl’s skin was caused by a problem her mother had suffered while she was pregnant; and it not only affected the daughter, but also her twin brother, who died two years after birth from an irreversible birth defect.  The girl’s mother had also died five years later, but before she died informed her daughter about the cruel remarks other kids were probably going to say about her and that she would have to learn to ignore them and to remember that her mother would always be with her to give her the strength to forgive them and love them just the same.  

The girl’s mother had taught her to not be judgmental of others and to always look for the beauty in someone else no matter the circumstances.  The girl in the classroom started spending more and more time with her and they soon became best friends.  Not long after, other girls began gravitating toward her and, before long, they too, had become friends with her.

The school put on a small play and the students had to learn lines for acting parts, or words to songs to sing and some to dance.  I was chosen to dance and was told to select a partner.  I can’t explain why but I chose the girl with the birthmark on her face.  It took only a few moments for the boys in class to start ragging on me about my choice, but I shrugged it off. 

As it turned out, dancing with this girl was one of the best things I had ever done as a kid because I learned what a beautiful person she was and I felt so sad for her that her mom had died before she got to see such a beautiful daughter growing up.  When I shared this with the girl, she simply nodded and told me that her mom hadn’t missed one moment of her life because she was with her every single day in her heart.
I learned about what was truly ugly and what was truly beautiful and am grateful for having learned to shed the ugly and embrace the beautiful.  She moved away the following year but I’m positive she has grown to be one of the most beautiful people in the world.
Chelle Munroe©
November 3, 2013