There are so many articles and ideas about forgiveness. We all know the old saying “To error is human; to forgive divine”. But what about forgiveness is divine? It comes to each person in its own time and way – how and why forgiveness is the path to take for whatever reason. In the spirit of finding my own forgiveness I am going to forgive also. Not just myself, but others.
Normally, forgiveness isn’t a hard thing for me to do. I forgive many things and give more than my fair share of chances. But there are people in my life I have yet to forgive, and it’s baggage I’m ready to set down.
These people were a staple in my life for many years. For five days a week, forty weeks out of the year, for six years straight, we were in the same place at the same time with no choice in the matter. This was high school. I went to a very small school in rural Minnesota. Junior high students and senior high students attended classes in the same building. Everyone knew everyone else. There was no chance of being invisible.
And I wasn’t very popular.
Bullying isn’t something new. Granted, we didn’t have the internet so when you went home you got a break. But the next day you had no choice but to go back to school. And teachers didn’t get involved.
From the first day in seventh grade I knew I wasn’t going to fit in. I didn’t attend elementary school with most of the kids so I wasn’t part of any friendships or groups. And I had no idea how to fit in. I was different. I didn’t have the nice clothes, the perfect hair, parents with great jobs. I wasn’t athletic. I liked to read and loved music.
Kids catch on to that. Very quickly.
It’s not that I didn’t try. I did. And I failed miserably. And I didn’t stop trying. I had no idea how the social dynamic worked but I always thought, since a young age, that everyone deserved a chance. But that’s not high school.
It was pretty clear within a few months that I was an outsider. That would have been okay except in a small school that makes you a target. I was also a slightly overweight child with glasses since first grade. My parents couldn’t afford contacts or braces or the best clothes or fancy hairstyles. I didn’t wear makeup. I lived on a horse farm. There couldn’t have been a bigger target on my back for bullies. And it seemed like everyone knew my name.
I can honestly say I hated high school. It had its moments, of course, that made it okay at times. By tenth grade I had a few friends but no one close. Just a few people that didn’t take the time to make fun of me.
All that added up to an adult who also hated the people she went to school with.
That was thirty years ago now. I graduated from McGregor High School in 1986. Yes, that makes me 48 this year. And yes, I still haven’t forgiven those people. I never went to a class reunion. And if it weren’t for social media I wouldn’t have any contact with any of them to this day.
Over the years two people I graduated with did reach out and say they were sorry. Those two I have forgiven. It touched me that they took the time to apologize. And I appreciate it.
But it’s time I forgive the rest of them. Not because they are sorry. I doubt they even think about it. But because it’s time I let it go. The taunts about how fat I was, how stupid I was, how I wasn’t worth the time of day. All of it has affected me as an adult and I am tired of the control it still holds over me. I have carried that baggage for over thirty years and it’s time I let it go.
Not for them. For me.
I have done a lot in those thirty years. I have three amazing daughters. I have met some wonderful people along the way who like me for who I am. I have run a successful personal business, am the author of six published books, and love who I have become. So it’s time.
Time to forgive those who made my life miserable so long ago. And I just want to tell them all…
I forgive you. You hold my childhood hostage no longer. You don’t rent space in my head any longer. I may have been a child that couldn’t fit into your world, but that’s okay now. I wasn’t meant to be one of you. I have always been me. And that’s okay too. It was okay then also, I just didn’t know it.
I hope you all have had a good life. I hope you continue to do so. I have seen some of you since high school and it was evident that you still had the power to make me feel small. Power I let you have. I have taken that power back and no longer will you pull me back to a time I felt inferior to you. You were just kids, like I was. But now I’m an adult and it’s time I act like it. It’s time I take control back. And I have.
If we ever meet again it will be as equals. As people who have lives and struggles and joys. Not as those kids in high school struggling to just get by.
In this I am whole again. I have found my freedom and release from the cage that was high school so many years ago.
I forgive you all.