A Lifelong Battle with Shame
Sean Howard

At thirteen, I was uprooted from my close knit family, my friends, my home, my country. Due to circumstances, we moved and I had to attend boarding school.

I was sad, scared and alone. On my very first night, I sat eating with my peers at the dinner table. The prefect in charge of our table (who seemed so powerful back then and I realise now, was actually only a few years older than me) called to me.

As I lifted the fork to my mouth; she called in a loud voice “Using the scoop side of the fork to eat peas and rice, is the height of bad manners. It’s a fork not a shovel. Where did you learn your manners from?”

Her voice was loud enough to summon the attention of the whole dining hall. There I sat, fork hovering, feeling the eye burn of scathing superiority.

Who had taught me my manners? Well, my mother had. My French mother, whose ettiquette and elegance like her mother before her, were part of who they were.

I wanted to be swallowed up into a hole in the ground. I felt ashamed of my family, of myself, of who I was, of my culture.

I desperately wanted to fit in, to make friends. So I nodded, turned my fork around and ate like she had told me to. To add to my embarrasment, I could not stop the tears of shame rolling down my cheeks and plopping onto my plate.

I had to sit there, eating my tear-soaked rice and peas, the way they wanted to me to, until the last grain of rice was gone. I felt completely alone in the world.

I agree that this type of shame is the learning kind. The lessons I learned, from this incident were immense and lifelong.

I was never that nodding, acquiescent young girl again.

Yet, just as you say Sean Howard the whispers from within, are the ones that still manage to bring out that little girl who nods with shame and agrees.

When that happens, I look at myself in the mirror and say very firmly “Rice and peas Mich. It’s all just rice and peas.”

It works everytime…

Well Sean Howard you did say you like hanging with the crazies! You got what you asked for!

Your words, your lessons, your thoughts, your willingness to bare your soul, your beautiful photos and artistry, your putting yourself out there and trying and experiencing new things and life, your humour and attitude, your dance moves and your loving, kind, caring friendship have inspired me, and make me think and grow and make me so damn grateful for the day I clicked follow Sean Howard .

Never, ever believe those whispers my friend — it’s all just rice and peas.

Love you Blanko and you know if I had been there, I would have been the one cheering madly and giving you a standing ovation despite and because of the face plant — I recognise true courage and spirit when I see it.