The twenty-eighth question for the Q&A section of this blog is: “What is the one thing you’d most like to be forgiven for?”
Before I answer this question, there’s one thing you should know about me: I have a huge guilt problem. I feel guilty about everything, especially if I shouldn’t, and I can’t get over that guilt until I’m able to make up for the wrong I feel was done somehow. The problem is, I feel guilty for things that are entirely out of my control, and that I know it’s kind of ridiculous for me to try to do anything about, not just the things that I should feel guilty for.
For example, many years ago I took a trip to Toronto with my mom and sister for a few days, and each of us came up with one ‘big thing’ we wanted to do before we left the city. My sister’s was done the first day, mine the next, and the last day before leaving was supposed to be my mom’s turn, because it was the only day that the activity she wanted to do was available. Unfortunately, her activity involved a helicopter, and on the day it was supposed to happen, a huge hailstorm rolled in completely out of nowhere, so we were obviously unable to go. My mother was disappointed, but of course she didn’t blame me or my sister, because there was nothing we could have done about it…but I felt so guilty that she didn’t get to do the one thing she’d wanted to do that I still, to this day, get a feeling of heartbreak every time I think of it, and feel sick at the knowledge that she hasn’t been able to do it yet. I have vowed to myself to one day take her to Toronto to take that helicopter trip, even though she may not even want to anymore, and she certainly wouldn’t want me to be paying for it. It’s just the only way I can ever imagine assuaging my guilt, despite that I know that the change in weather was not my fault.
So, yeah, that’s a thing I do, and I do it a lot. There’s a long list of things I feel like I have to make up for that were absolutely not my fault in any way, but that I can’t let go of until I’ve made right, so I will someday. There’s also a shorter list of things I legitimately feel I need to make up for, because they are things I did wrong (or things that I wanted to do for someone but wasn’t able to for whatever reason), and I feel overwhelmingly guilty about those things every time I think of them as well, but for the most part, I right my wrongs as they happen as much as possible.
Because of all that, there’s not a lot I need to be forgiven for, because for the most part, everyone involved in the things I’ve felt guilty about have either not viewed what happened as my fault in any way at all, or have already forgiven me for what I did – I just haven’t forgive myself. That makes this question a bit difficult, because I have to think of something that someone other than me has not forgiven me for, and there’s only one thing I can think of that would potentially fit that category. So here goes.
Wayyyy back in elementary school, I was one of the ‘popular girls’, as I’ve mentioned in this blog before. I can’t remember exactly what I’ve said about my childhood on here, so I’ll just explain it all and apologize if I repeat anything you’ve already heard. So yeah, I was ‘popular’, but in my school all that meant was that everyone in the class liked me, and I was friends with all of them – despite being probably the shyest person in the class. For most kids, being popular would give them a certain amount of self-esteem, but it didn’t work that way for me; like I said, I was excruciatingly shy, and most of it was due to the fact that I had no self-confidence, so I was consistently afraid that people either secretly didn’t like me and were just pretending to be my friends to make fun of me, or did like me, but wouldn’t if I made the slightest wrong move.
In my final year of elementary school, my closest friends and I decided that we should create the first yearbook in our school’s history, because not everyone in the class was going to be going to the same junior high school, and we’d been such a tight knit group. We worked hard on it, and incorporated ideas from teachers and everyone in the class, and in the end, it came out quite well. There was only one problem – one of my friends decided that we should do a sort of ‘info sheet’ for each student, that they would fill out so people would know their likes, dislikes, best friends, etc. Why was that a problem? Because of one question – “Biggest Pet Peeve”.
I hated that question. I remember sitting in front of the computer (one of those huge, colourful iMacs) for hours trying to think of how to fill in that one little blank, because I couldn’t really think of anything I disliked enough to call it a pet peeve at that age (I have many now, trust me :P), and I was afraid to offend anyone by putting something that might have been a habit of one of my classmates. Eventually, a few of my best friends showed up to work on theirs, and I asked them what they’d put down as their pet peeves. That was a huge mistake.
They informed me that they’d all put the same thing, and that they thought I should put it too, since we were all best friends and it would be weird if I didn’t…but that thing was the names of two of our fellow classmates, Shaun and Jessica. They went on to make fun of the two of them, and I remember feeling very uncomfortable with it, because I liked Shaun and Jessica. Shaun had had a crush on me since first grade, and I still, to this day, have the valentine he gave me that was my first ever, on which he’d written that he loved me. Of course, he was too young to love me, but I just thought it was so sweet that I could never get rid of it. Shaun and I didn’t hang out much, but he was always very nice to me when we did, the others just didn’t like him because they found him annoying.
Jessica they didn’t like because they thought she smelled like fish. They made a lot of jokes at her expense, and again it made me uncomfortable because none of them knew a damn thing about Jessica. She lived up the street from me, so we would often walk home together after school, and yes, she did emit a certain odour, but I knew why – her parents were in an incredibly bad financial position, and couldn’t afford to use enough hot water to allow Jessica to bathe more than once a week. She had siblings, and one of them had a physical disability, so most of her parents’ money went to caring for him and feeding the family, leaving little left over for hot water and heat in the winter. Jessica was a sweet, smart girl, who appreciated what she had, and my ‘friends’ knew nothing about what she didn’t have, and…it just wasn’t right how they treated her.
But of course, there’s a reason this is something I need to be forgiven for, and I’m sure you can guess it’s that I marked their names down on my form as well. Why? Because I was afraid to lose my friends. It’s not a good enough reason, I know that now, but at the time I felt so pressured and scared about what would happen if I didn’t, that I did it. I remember the day the yearbooks were printed, flipping to my own page and seeing those words written there, and how awful I felt. How upset I knew Shaun and Jessica would be when they saw them. I betrayed them, plain and simple; they were good to me, and I turned my back on them in favour of ‘friends’ that didn’t even bother with me anymore once we entered junior high, even if I had wanted to continue to associate with them.
Few people know that that’s why I became depressed in junior high, and excluded myself from everyone else. People still liked me – in fact, I remember learning in grade 9 that the ‘popular people’ in junior high had always wanted to spend more time with me, and they were actually very sweet people (an entirely different group) – but I had no desire to be close to anyone then. I could not handle the guilt I felt for doing what I did to Shaun and Jessica, and I did not want to get close enough to anyone else to risk making a mistake like that again.
Neither Shaun nor Jessica ended up going to the same junior high or high school as me, so I was never able to apologize for what I did, and because the yearbooks were ready right at the end of the school year, I was never even able to face either of them to fully understand the measure of the pain I must have caused them. Who knows; maybe neither of them cared…but even if that was the case, that doesn’t make it okay that I did what I did. I shouldn’t have done it, and I wish so badly that I hadn’t. I wish I’d given up those ‘friends’ then, that very moment; I wish I’d been able to see that those were not the type of people I wanted to spend my time with.
So, that is the one thing I’d most like to be forgiven for, and I never will, because I cannot remember Shaun or Jessica’s last names, and no one else from my elementary seems to remember either, so I’ve no way of ever contacting them. I’ll just spend the rest of my life wishing I could have apologized to them. More than that, though, I wish I could just go back and change it all; make it so it never happened. I’m sorry, Shaun and Jessica, but I know sorry is not enough. I wish there was something I could do.
Again, no gifs this time because of the nature of the story. I hope you understand. Reflecting on this again has quite upset me, so I’ve got to go deal with that now. I wonder if that was the moment when I decided I wanted to do everything I could to help as many people as possible as much as possible. I still want to. Someday, I hope I’m able to do more than I can now.
Check out Mike’s answer at http://emptystress.wordpress.com, and please feel free to post your own in the comments!
(Next question: “When have you come closest to meeting the devil?”)