Thursday, April 28, 2011

Lessons In Forgiveness

Part of my journey in regaining my physical and mental health is learning to deal with things from my past. Not just deal with them, actually, but to put them away and move on. I've clung to certain things for a long time and I'm finally figuring out how to let go.

One of the toughest things I had to endure was bullying at the hands of my babysitters' kids. Because both of my parents worked, I'd stay with families who could watch me before and after school. Most of the time, though, the kids in the household would resent having other children around to take up their parents' attention. In almost every home, I was teased and bullied, and because I was so shy, never stood up for myself.

The last home I was at was the worst. I ended up there after meeting one of the girls and her older sister on the bus. I was only in the first grade at the time, but they were nice to me, even though they were both older. When I found out that their mom ran a babysitting service in her home, I begged my parents to let me stay with their family. They agreed and I was thrilled.

At first, things went well. I loved being in a home with my new friends; even better, one of the girls from my second grade class was also staying there. I enjoyed being around a group of what seemed like nice kids.

Unfortunately, things quickly went downhill. The older sister, who was five years my senior, started making nasty comments at me. At first, they were pretty benign, but as time went on, they got worse. She also recruited her younger sister and my classmate to gang up on me. They'd constantly "correct" me or call me names; it never seemed like I could do anything right. They lectured me for boasting about my grades, made fun of me for being Jewish, calld me an "Igpay verde," green pig in Pig Latin.

I stayed at that home for three years and by the time I was 10 and the older girl was 15, the abuse from her turned physical. One time, she held me down and yanked off my skirt and then had some of the neighborhood boys walk under my legs -- when I was in my underwear. Another time, she held me down and tried to feed me dog shit. There were other things, too, that I'm not so comfortable writing about. But she also made fun of me for being fat -- which I wasn't at that age. After enduring three years of these girls telling me how much I suck, pretty much on a daily basis, I hated myself. Their words and actions stayed with me until adulthood.

I finally left that home at the end of fourth grade. I just couldn't stay there anymore, so I begged my parents to let me just stay home by myself. They were a little wary, but agreed. I remember feeling like I'd been let out of prison. The next year, the third girl -- the classmate -- apologized to me for everything they'd done. She explained that she and the younger sister were scared of the older girl and teamed up with her basically out of self-preservation.

Anyway, the other day on Facebook, the younger sister sent me a kind note. She told me that she felt blessed to have had me in her childhood and asked if we could be FB friends. I've heard of nostalgia changing people's perspective on the past, but wow, was her vision of our time together different than mine! I was moved by her sincere note, though, and after sleeping on it, wrote her back. I came up with something positive to say and said that she could be my FB friend if she wants.

Part of me is a little freaked to know that I'm now two degrees from the older sister via FB. However, I feel safe in knowing that she can't do anything to me. For one thing, I'm certain that I'm now bigger than her. I doubt that we'll ever come face to face, but if we ever do and she dares to touch me, I will kick her ass! Being fat DOES have some advantages, LOL! But more important than that, I've finally reached a point where I like myself -- and nothing she could say would change that.

I'm proud of myself for taking this step and letting the past go. I'll never forget what happened, but I think I am ready to forgive.

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