There isn't a lot in my life that I regret; honestly, I can only think of two things - they are the same two that I've had for over 5 years now. I've done some stupid things, definitely some things that I really shouldn't have done, but precious little that I would actually go back and change if I had the chance. Those things, however, are not the topic of today's blog for two reasons: 1) no one would understand why that has me sobbing onto my keyboard, and 2) I'm not a fan of snot, and when I cry there is definitely snot, so it's best avoided. Today's topic IS, however, related: guilt.
Unsurprisingly, I have a lot of guilt. Perhaps it's the remnants of growing up with a religion that had a lot of rules and expectations that I not only completely didn't understand but utterly failed to live up to, or maybe I just hold on to things too long ... which I actually know is true, since I do also have a tendency to hold grudges. Whatever the reason, there are two things that have been plaguing me for years (hmmm ... I sense a pattern of 2 ... now that I think on it, there are only two people that I still hold a grudge against as well ... hmmm ... dammit, now you know I'm going to be looking for patterns of two absolutely everywhere, utterly convinced that the number 2 has some sort of meaning for my life! ) *Eh-hem* moving on ... where was I?
"Two things have been plaguing you ..."
Oh yes! So, two things have been plaguing me. This isn't the keep-you-up-at-night kind of plaguing, but more the creep-into-your-mind-at-the-oddest-moments kind, the kind that randomly pop up and 30 minutes later you realize you've just been staring into space thinking about them - no lost sleep, but bad enough. Both of them happened YEARS ago - Jr. High kind of years ago. I don't know if I've just not done anything in the last 15 years to have guilt over ... haha! Well, that's certainly not the case, so apparently my mind is starting with the early stuff and working its way up from there, and since my mind apparently only deals with issues two at a time (which we learned today), it chose these two:
1) In 6th grade, a boy in my class - we'll call him Edmond because I have never even met someone with that name - had some sort of brain surgery. I think he had water on his brain, and if he hit his head too hard there was the potential for him to die. Just imagine being a 12-year-old-ish kid, you've had brain surgery, you have to worry about not getting hit on the head too hard, you have to wear a bike helmet everywhere you go to help prevent your death if you do get hit hard on the head, and everyone in your class makes fun of you for it ... everyone, yes (here is where the guilt comes), everyone including me! We were totally brutal to Edmond!
"Hey Edmond, how was your bike ride?"
"It's lunch, Edmond, not time to ride your bike!"
"Is English a little hard, Edmond? Afraid it might hit you in the head?!"
I mean, seriously, it was absolutely ridiculous! I'm furious with 12-year-old me! It's not like he was new and we didn't know him (not that that would justify anything of course!) - we had gone to school with Edmond since kindergarden, and it's not like he could escape us - we all graduated high school together! He had to go through the rest of school with the knowledge that the kids he had grown up and gone to school with his whole life didn't seem to give a shit that he could die. I like to think we would have cared if something had happened, but you wouldn't know it to see how we behaved toward him.
2) I had a best friend growing up - how about I name her Suzie as I have only known cats with that name ... hmmm, ironically she hated cats, maybe I should name her something different .... Anyway, her mom owned a business across the street from my house, and we played together almost everyday after school for years. Jr. High rolls around, and we grow apart, inevitably. We're still nice to each other, say hi, occasionally hang out, but we're not really good friends anymore. My sister is dating her brother and for whatever reason I'm really irritated by this - something about "you spend more time with Suzie; when you have kids together you're going to want Suzie to babysit them, not me!" - seriously misguided anger! So I do what any pissed off 8th grader does - I write it down in a note, but not only that, I give it to Suzie's now-best friend. I can't even describe how bad this note was - it was horrible! I don't even know how to describe it and pretty sure I don't actually want to ... it said horribly rude and untrue things about Suzie's family - people whose house I had played at and stayed over at for years, people who had been wonderful and kind to me ... I don't remember what all it said and I hope to god it doesn't exist somewhere still! Needless to say, that ended any remnants of a friendship with Suzie right there. It's a little difficult to avoid someone in a school of around 300, but we managed it for the next 4 years. After high school I moved away - that made the avoidance much easier - and now it's 12-years post-note, and I've barely said a word to her since.
So, what brought this guilt-confession on? Well, I saw Suzie on facebook the other day (ahhh facebook!) - apparently she's going by a different version of her name now, like going from Suzie to Susan - so I facebook-stalked her for a little bit, looking at her pictures, seeing that she's engaged, etc., and I had this overwhelming urge to write to her, to tell her I'm so terribly sorry for what I said, that I wish we could have been like those people who becomes friends in 3rd grade and stay friends for life, but how do you say that to someone you've hardly spoken to in 12 years, someone that you hurt so badly? I will probably never see Edmond again - never have the chance to apologize for being such a mean little kid, but she is right there - I can email her so easily ... I can, but I'm so afraid to! Is it better to drag it all back up just for the chance to relieve my guilty consciousness, or to hope that it's not something she thinks about any more and let it go?
I'm not even close to the same person I was then - thank god! I'm not nearly as angry at the world (I swear!) and I'm much more conscious of the potential outcomes of my actions. So, the big question is: what is more selfish - bringing it up and apologizing - and I truly truly am sorry - while assuaging my guilt, or letting it go and letting her live in peace while I just deal with the guilt I feel as a not-quite-fitting-enough punishment? I'm conflicted - I simply don't know the answer to this.