Last year, you taught me how to ride a bike. Fortunately enough, I still remember how. You hold on to the handlebars for dear life, balance your weight on the seat, and continue peddling until you make enough momentum to push you forward. You were a good teacher and I was able to ride on my own in an hour.
But going forward was the only thing I could do. A year later, you found out that I had difficulty steering (that being an understatement because I could never do a real u-turn). Every time I turned the handlebars to a certain direction, I panicked, pressed the break, and immediately put one foot on the ground or jumped off of the bike completely. I always got too scared leaning into the centripetal force of the turn that I always backed out, I never u-turned.
Let me tell you a story. When I was seven years old, I rode a pedal go-cart with my friends down a garage. The entrance was steep and the landing was a good five to six meters from the top of the slope. We all wanted to give it a try and none of us wanted anyone to go first. So, we decided to ride it together. Three of us young girls crammed ourselves in the vehicle—one on the actual seat, holding on to the steering wheel, and one on each side, struggling for a comfortable spot while balancing our bottoms on thin steel rods. It was the in between of sitting down and standing up. Certainly, the position wasn’t stable. I was seated on the left side.
The two of us who sat on each side pushed the cart at the edge of the slope. We all readied ourselves. We breathed. The two of us pushed ourselves off the landing and braced ourselves for the downhill thrill. But going down, we realized we were going too fast and the ride suddenly didn’t seem so fun. So we took off. The one on the right stepped out of the moving vehicle first and seemed to have made a safe landing. Seeing this, I took the same opportunity and jumped off. I immediately regretted my decision.
I rolled out of control for a quick second and found myself sitting up, bleeding and in pain. I looked to my friend who jumped off first and saw she was in the same condition. There was blood on my knees and elbows and dirt specked all over my skin. The one on the steering wheel was smart enough to not jump from the cart and walked away unscathed. She was at the landing, looking back at us, still in the car. She spoke, “Bakit kayo tumalon?”
Maybe that’s why I can never seem to make a proper turn on any moving vehicle. It scares me too much. That if I go too fast, or I lean into something that might make me fall, or I put myself into something I can’t control, I would only hurt myself. So I’d rather hit the breaks or jump off. Because I’d be escaping something. And I realize, that even if I do manage to get away, it’d still be the same—I could still get hurt.
So now I’m trying to learn my turns, to steer properly. To make a smooth left or right, to be able to lean into the centripetal force and balance myself on a proper u-turn—and go back to where I started. We can’t always run away from the things that hurt us; we just have to face them again and again so they won’t be able to hurt us again.