Friday, February 12, 2010

day 43- Forgive someone

Forgive someone.

I'm trapped in my house. There's ten feet of snow outside my door and I'm pretty sure I just saw a polar bear walk down my street. It was either a polar bear or huge dog.

I've been meaning to write this one up for a while now.

Forgivness. It's not easy. It doesn't make you divine, contary to what you may have heard. Not everyone is nice. Some people are jerks. Some people are jerks but they don't realize the dramatic effects of what they do or say. Some people are mean because they have a lot on their plate.

I teach middle school. I teach it because middle school was the worst time of my life. Every mental battle scar I have comes from middle school.

I had an average group of friends. We did the sort of things kids did. At lunch, we made fun of each other. Harmless sort of stuff. I insult you, you insult me, so one and so forth. It's all cool as along as the score board at the end of the period is a tie and no one crosses any lines.

All jokes have a grain of truth, which is what makes them funny. Right?

For two years my best friends called me a dog, flat and made fun of my nose. I called them dumb and ugly. It's all fair, right?

Nearly twenty years later, I still think I am the ugliest girl in the room. The term "dog" (not a female one either) when referring to a woman's outer appearance makes my stomach knot up. Even as I write this I want to threw up.

Every year I tell my students that story because I want them to understand that words matter. Things they say can have a direct effect on someone else.

We've all said nasty things behind someone's back. We've all heard nasty thing said about us.

I thought it was a completely normal part of growing up.

Until last year, when a student approached me and said, "Ms. Manack, that's not supposed to happen. No one should ever say those things about you, no one should be that mean."
My lunchtime activities wasn't a typical right of passage? But I thought EVERYONE carried the mental battle scars of childhood.


Without going into too much emotional detail, because really who needs to read about that, this caused me to look at my life differently.

I stopped and thought about my friends, what I knew about them then and what I know about them now.
Things started to make sense.
And again without going into too much detail as to the reasons and who my main tormentor turned out to be, I forgave her.

It wasn't into much later in life I put two and two together. She had it much harder then I did. She was dealing with things I couldn't even imagine. Maybe she was sad, or confused or just as insecure about everything that I was. Middle school and high school was probably just as hard on her as it was on me. No, it was probably harder.

So I forgave her.

I didn't tell her. I haven't confronted her. What's the point? Why would I do that, tell her, "you hurt me feelings-- boo hoo." It's not going to do any good. These issues are mine, not hers. Maybe one day she'll look back and think about what she did and realized her words effected me.

I still carry my scars (they are figurative scars-- not literal) But they hold a new meaning for me. My issues are about vanity and if that's the worst of my problems, so be it.

I've got a pretty amazing life. I have a job I love. A husband who is wonderful and gives me plenty of time to do the things I love. My daughter is incredible and can sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star like a pro. I've got the cutest dog and cat. Very supportive parents. My friends are my best source of cheerleaders and motivation. I live in a time where there internet is everywhere and I don't have to worry about the elements trying to kill me (let's face the facts, if we were born 100 years ago this winter would have killed most of us). All in all it's a great life and I wouldn't trade it for anything.

Would I do it again- Sure, there's lots of people out there, I'm sure someone is going to be a jerk to me.
Cost- Nothing, in fact it probably saved me a few thousand dollars in therapy and plastic surgery.
Effort- yep a whole lot.
Time- years. But totally worth it. I feel lighter now and I look at life a little bit differently.


  1. i have to disagree with your student. middle school was the worst, most tormented years of my life and alot of my friends can say the same. its when kids are the most mean. i cant blame them cause even though i was the subject of 99% of the ridicule in my school there was one kid below me and i would make fun of him to get accepted. kids at that age seem to just be mean and stupid.

  2. Something tells me that we all carry scars from middle school. But to be able to forgive your tormentors . . . that takes courage. I don't think I could do that. In fact, when I run in to any of the people that tormented me I usually just ignore them completely. I guess I'm still holding a grudge.