Monday, March 26, 2007

Ancient Shame

Once upon a time, in a town several miles up the road, I had no friends. New to the school and not nearly cool enough to be immedietly popular, I spent my first year with one friend. Maybe 2. A couple of aquaintences and no sense of belonging. All the wrong clothes. The wrong side of town, although my parents didn't know that when we moved there. That was seventh grade. By the end of eighth grade, I had a few more friends and a tentative social life. But I still didn't feel accepted. Without my friends close by, I felt lost and alone, fearful that one of the more popular kids would start to make fun of me. They did that sometimes.

One day I was standing in line and I heard the boy in front of me say, "Watch this". He turned, and held out his hand as if to shake mine. I stared at it like it would bite. I did not take his hand. He turned around and said, "See? I told you"

The boy in question had birthmarks on his hand. When I heard what he said, I knew that he was proving to his friend that people were afraid to touch him. My own insecurities underlined his belief. I wanted to apologize, I wanted to take his hand, but I didn't know how. I didn't know how to fix it. I still don't. I was fearful of this boy not because of his markings, but because of his social status. It never occurred to me that he might have been a very nice person.

It occurred to me the other day that I could look him up on MySpace. tonight I did. As I glanced over his profile, I realized that he probably doesn't remember the incident. He probably doesn't need my apology. I don't really think he would know who I am.I realized that it isn't he that needs to forgive me, I need to forgive myself. Not for the lack of a handshake, but for the predjudice I held against an innocent individual. He was never mean to me, I only assumed he would be because his friends were.

And I need to understand that I can't try to right all past wrongs, but I can try not to make the same mistakes again. I think that's even harder than apologizing.


Gary said...

I think that just being willing to apologise says a lot about you. You are a really sensitive person.

Sensei Ern said...

You have no need to apologize. He caused his own insecurities by his inability to communicate properly, and by his social standards.

First, being part of a group that treated others with disrespect placed him in the assumed group, until he proved otherwise, and he failed to do so. Second, he said, "Watch this!" which sends red flags of proction were expecting him to pull a dirty trick on you, and that is normal. Just reading your account, I was expecting him to do just that.

You have nothing to forgive. He needs to apologize, for causing you such grief and trauma. However, unless he has grown up quite a bit, don't hold your breath, as he may not remember it, and he may not care even if he does remember.

Rich | Championable said...

Regardless of whether or not anyone owes anyone an apology (I mean, I don't know, but it seems like this is a long, long time ago, and nobody really needs to apologize to anyone, but who am I to say?), sometimes the best amends is simply being the best person you can be, you know? It's called a "living amends."

Rock on, sister.

Ginamonster said...

Thank you Gary.

Sensei, I think he would saythe same thing. And it was Jr High, he can't have been expected to not be friends with someoe because they were assholes, that kind of awareness doesn't generally arrive until High School. But yes, the red protection flag went up and I acted accordingly. It was the realization that he probably doesn't care if he does remember that kept me from writeing.

Rich, It was a REALLY long time ago. And I think that by exploring the option, I was able to let it go.