Barbie Perkins-Cooper, Author

Living Life in the Country As A Writer, Photographer

Dearest Readers:

While taking another break from housework, I visited Facebook where people were discussing the cruelty of some of their acquaintances. Yes, acquaintances…not friends.

Reading a few of the comments got me thinking…and if you know me…thinking can be dangerous! I create my best characters while — thinking!

Like all of you, I’ve met many characters in life. Some nice. Some judgmental… Others cruel. Destructive…and then, on a few occasions, I’ve met interesting characters that have influenced my life. One of the most influential characters I’ve ever known was someone I met years ago. She and I kept in contact until her death in 2010. How I miss our conversations, along with her encouragement. She is a character I have preserved and have not shared in any of my stories. Why? Simple. She was the epitome of what a mother was to me. Her arms embraced me when we met. Her voice and encouraging words gave me strength. She is and will always be — a refined and cherished character.

Looking up the definition of character — the word character is defined as:
“the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual”

Yes, I have met many individuals and I hesitate to describe many of them as ‘characters.’ Why? Watching their actions, listening to their back-stabbing whispers, seeing the look in their eyes, especially when I walk near them teaches me so much, just by watching the actions of these individuals. You’ve met the type. The type who embrace you with a hug and a cheeky kiss, only to glance over your shoulder to watch their whispers and snide remarks and looks. Actions say so much! Yes, I suppose those types of individuals are considered characters, but only of a cruel, demeaning, and belligerent personality. The type who thrive on building themselves up while knocking you down.

In high school, I knew many characters, only to recognize years later that their cruel remarks were made because they do not know better. After all, they lost the best friend they will ever have by ridiculing me. High school was the most difficult time of my life. I learned to keep all of my secrets to myself, sharing none of them to anyone I knew in school.

I know I am different. I am not the judgmental, cruel type of person. My grandmother taught me to be ‘nice’ and to live by the Golden Rule. After all, She would say, “God don’t love ugly! You must pray over those who hurt you.” When I lost my grandmother, I truly lost my first inspirational character.

If I have a problem with someone, I approach that person and speak with them. If we cannot come to a peaceful understanding, I simply do not socialize or acknowledge them. After all, I deserve better!

It took years for me to realize that. As a child, I lived with cruel, cold, calculated, toxic words. I never knew the love of a mother, nor did I feel her warm embrace. There are many things I felt under her care, but character was not a description I would use to describe what her values were. She appeared to detest me, telling me I would never EVER find anyone to love me. I listened to her. Little did I know that some mothers simply do not know how to care for children.

I broke away from her web of destruction while searching for the character of myself. I was cautious. When people made snide remarks about me, showing jealousy, envy and other cruelties that cut into the heart of who I am, I cut them off. I wanted to walk with my head held high. I wanted to smile while knowing that I had character. A character it has taken me years to build. Most of all, I wanted to love myself. Every morning, I glance in the mirror and say, “Today, you are the best that you can be. Move forward with your life. Don’t look back!”

Two years of therapy taught me much, and now, I still watch people — carefully! I sit back. Observing while watching their body language and when AND IF I feel comfortable, I might approach someone to become a friend. However, if I see that friend using a loose tongue, or back stabbing, I will approach once. If the trust is damaged, so is the character.

Characters are every where, but I am cautious. I make mental notes, and ever so slowly, I continue to build — MY character! Life is much too short to be unhappy.

4 thoughts on “Character…What It Is, According to Me…

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