Archive | February, 2014

Ghosts of the Past

6 Feb

Ghosts of the Past.

Ghosts of the Past

6 Feb

I’m afraid to write this blog post because it is so very personal. I’m also afraid that people will be angry with me, and I could lose friends over it, but what I have to say and what I’ve learned recently seems to trump all of that fear, so here goes. Recently, there’s been some drama at my son’s high school. I know, drama at a high school is nothing unusual. What is unusual is how deeply I am affected by it, and the reason I’m affected by it is because of some of the drama in my own life from high school and even younger years.

Ever since I was a little girl, I never felt like I fit in. I was really smart and I loved school at a time when it wasn’t cool for girls to be smart or for anyone to love school. Shortly after we moved to another school district so that I could get a better education, I found out I needed glasses. I was the new girl with glasses, and I became a target. One boy in my class decided to make me the object of what I now understand was his own anger and his own dysfunction. He made fun of me every chance he could because of my glasses and because of my nose. He called me four eyes and bird girl and told me if I told anyone, he would beat me up, and I believed him. This was the boy in my class who spent most of his time at a desk separated from the rest of the class and surrounded by giant flip charts so that he couldn’t see out and we couldn’t see in. His name was Brian. He was my first bully and I hated him.

When I was in the fifth grade, they re-zoned my school district, and I went to a new school for sixth grade. When I got to my new class, there was a boy who had been picked out years before I got there as the object of other children’s anger and dysfunction. I knew what that felt like, but I also knew that standing up for him would put me right back where I had been before, so I chose to join the tormentors instead of being tormented, and even when he cried at some of the things we said, I wasn’t brave enough to speak up. I had become the bully and I hated me.

When I got to high school and was dealing with all of the things academically, emotionally and socially that go on at that level, my grandma once said to me to enjoy my high school years because they would be the best years of my life, and I remember thinking, “You mean it gets worse?” Not that there weren’t some great moments in high school, including athletic triumphs, academic accomplishments and a lifelong friendship or two, but when I look back at the whole of high school, I would never want to relive it. The culmination of ugly for me happened toward the end of my senior year. Because yearbooks were issued the following year, several of us ordered memory books so that we could write the notes to one another that we would’ve written in our yearbooks the following year. We would pass them around at the end of class so our classmates could sign them and gather them back up before we went to our next class. One morning, when I got my book back, there was a note in it, and I opened it. The note wasn’t written to me. It was written about me. I don’t remember exactly what the note said, but it was basically about what a horrible person I was, and it ended by saying that “they” were going to rip me up into little pieces and shove me up my mother’s a$$, and the worst part of all was looking at the bottom of the note and seeing the names of every one of my friends as though it had been passed around and everyone had signed it. I had never felt so shocked and betrayed. I got up and walked out of class by myself as the bell rang. My best friend caught up with me in the hallway and asked me what the heck was going on because we always walked to class together. I angrily showed her the note and stood there while she read it. When she finished, she looked at me and swore to me that she had not signed it and that someone had put her name on it. By that time, my other best friend had caught up with us and when I showed her the note, she told me it wasn’t addressed to me and I shouldn’t have read it. It was awful.

There’s so much behind each of these incidents, and as I’ve grown emotionally and spiritually, I’ve gained such an interesting perspective on each of them. I realize that Brian, my bully, probably lived in some very unhappy circumstances. No one who feels good about themselves does what he did to me. In many ways, Brian ended up being one of my first lessons in forgiveness. You see, Brian was killed in a car accident on Christmas Eve when we were in high school, and there was a small part of me that was relieved when I heard the news, so not only did I eventually forgive Brian for what he had done to me, I also had to forgive myself for feeling relieved that he was gone and for the guilt I felt afterwards for having those feelings.

Then there’s my own bullying incident. I have no idea what became of the boy who suffered under my cruelty and the cruelty of others. It wasn’t until I had children of my own that I understood how deeply we may have hurt him, and I am truly sorry for any pain I may have caused. I have prayed many times that he was able to forgive and move on with his life in a positive way.

I could probably fill a book with what I’ve learned from my own high school incident, but here are the highlights. I had a very close relationship with my mother when I was in high school and very few of my friends did. One of my friends even lost her mom to cancer while we were in high school. Thinking back, I don’t remember ever telling her how sorry I was that she lost her mom. What I remember is that she never cried in front of me and after the funeral, she went on with her life as if nothing had ever happened. When I think about it now, I so admire her courage and ability to go on every day, and if I could’ve been a better friend in any way, I hope she has forgiven me for failing to be there for her. I also realize that whether any of the people who were listed on that note wrote their names down or not, we all have wounds to heal. I never again want to be the source of anyone’s wounds. I only want to be a catalyst to their healing. It’s why I remain neutral in as many situations as I can, not because I’m weak and not because I don’t have an opinion, but because I believe more in healing than in judgment. I believe more in peace than I believe in being right or wrong. I believe more in cooperation than confrontation, and although I don’t always do it as well if I would like to sometimes, I believe in the healing power of love and forgiveness to solve any problem in this world. Thanks for being you and have a great day.

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