Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Letting Go

It is not easy for me to let go. I remember every hurt, every insult, every remark from grade school days. I don't even have the best memory in general, but these sort of outdated episodes manage to stay with me. 

I am not proud of it; I am annoyed at myself. I know that I am not always, consistently, nice or pleasant; I hope that others wouldn't hold that against me indefinitely.

I have changed over the years; it should be assumed that others do as well. I shouldn't hold people accountable for things they said or did when they were 10. 

On Facebook the girl that constantly teased me in elementary friended me. She was married, smiling with her sweet-looking husband, a burbling baby bouncing on her knee. I accepted the friend request. It's not like we contacted each other in any other way; simply that every day, there she would be, looking as though butter wouldn't melt in her mouth, aggravatingly awakening reminders of a childhood when I allowed myself to be pushed around.  

I couldn't do this anymore. I couldn't be constantly brought back to that time when I couldn't understand why she was picking on me. I de-friended her, and immediately felt lighter. 

Dorri Olds wrote of a serious trauma in her past. At 13, eager to make friends, she was gang-raped. She never told her parents; she never reported it.  

38 years later the one who instigated it has the chutzpah to "friend" her. He's married with two children, one being a teenage girl. Dorri is knocked mentally senseless when she recalls the helplessness and violation, and she thinks of an apt retribution. She friends his wife with the plan to tell her.
But when I looked at my computer again, I saw she’d written on my wall. She posted a sideways smiley face and complimented the photos of my dog. How could I tell her? She’d done nothing to me. My rage belonged to her husband.
So I went back to his profile page and typed a private message: “I hope that night has haunted you. I was naïve and a virgin. I see you have a teenage daughter now. Better keep her safe from guys like you.”
I wanted to hate him and hurt him but realized that the only way to be free was to let it all go. When I defriended him I felt strong. The past was the past, and my mouth wasn’t covered anymore.
Being able to let go is the only way to move on and be free. 

Hanging onto resentment is letting someone you despise live rent-free in your head. - Esther Lederer

It is not easy. I am guilty for holding on for too long. They don't give the past a second thought; why should I? Why should I torment myself with unpleasantness?

Perhaps as a sign of my new-found forgiveness I should have kept her as a "friend." Her face in my friend list, however, was a trigger for the past. As long as the reminder isn't there, then I can forget for now, no longer blaming her. She certainly won't be in my head.


SporadicIntelligence said...

I'm friends with the girl who got me rejected from my first choice high school. She also happened to be my best friend in 8th grade.

I was blessed with the ability to turn off the memories and dull the pain. It never goes away, but my mind does a very good job of ignoring it (that and other bad memories).

I feel for you that you still feel the pain so acutely; go ahead, unfriend her, and don't think another thought of it, she's not worth it.

Princess Lea said...

Thanks! I hope I can work toward a more adult tolerance, but genetics go deep (I come from a long-memoried people).

FrumGeek said...

While there are some things that cannot be let go, and last for generations, like my hatred toward Germans and dogs (my grandfather was almost castrated by one in Auschwitz, and has passed down a hatred for them to my father to me), there are some things that CAN be let go. I myself was bullied quite a lot. After reading this I decided to write down my own experience: http://thefrumgeek.blogspot.com/2012/02/letting-it-go.html

Princess Lea said...

All of my grandparents are also survivors, but I wouldn't say that all Germans are automatically voted off the island. Germans have been eager to compensate for the past, and practically every nation on earth has tortured us. Hitler would not have been so successful if the countries he took over were not so willing to do his dirty work.

There are now thriving Jewish communities in Germany.

As for dogs, I love 'em. My Bobby is an animal lover.

Girl bullies operate differently from boy bullies. Girls won't physically hurt, they will emotionally terrorize. And that ability to be catty doesn't necessarily go away with maturity.

It is admirable that your tormentors saw the error of their ways and apologized. If that girl ever did, I am not sure what my reaction would be.

nmf #7 said...

I just noticed this post, and it struck a chord. You see, I just sent a friend request to one of the girls that was horrible to me in elementary school.
Why would I do it? I wanted to move past it, to see how she is now, and not blame her for her elementary school self. Maybe she's grown up.
And I'm sure her memories of me are also not fond. But we can both try to move past it.

Obviously I'm not equating this with a friend request from a rapist.

Princess Lea said...

That's the thing; I thought I could have moved past it. Then I realized I couldn't. At least, not yet. I'll give it another ten years.

JerusalemStoned said...

I left a school in the middle of fourth grade because of a bullying teacher whom the school would do nothing about. I met her last year and she apologized with tears in her eyes.

I wish I could say that it lightened the memories, but it didn't. Her saying I'm sorry did not have any practical applications in my life. I have come to accept that these things come only from within. So do whatever you need to do to keep your heart light!

Princess Lea said...

Ugh, bad teachers. I never had any as bad as yours, but it doesn't take much for them to flail the ego of a student.

True. If one hasn't personally dealt with the issue after 15 years, an apology won't make much of a difference.

Anonymous said...

I just came across your blog today, and I am loving it. This post really resonates with me, but I can't help but wonder why you chose not to speak to her about it. Perhaps she would apologize and instead of having to let these thoughts harbor in your mind, they can be explained and removed, and your feelings can be healed.

Princess Lea said...

She knew that she tortured me. Frankly, I don't care what sort of explanation she has. I come from a class of people that there is no excuse for mistreating someone else. And since she is no longer that same girl, apologies are of no use to me.