I wish that, as a child, I knew the things that I know now. I think a lot about kids that I knew and the circumstances of their lives.
There are so many things you miss, or ignore, when you are kid and the whole world revolves around you and what games there are to be played at recess.
I think about the girls who were even more marginalized than I was. Do they know it was not them? Do they know that we were a small insular farming community in so many ways. Anything new or different, or anyone who could not trace their roots back to the beginning of the community, was never going to be allowed any space. Do they know that I was marginalized too? It may have looked like I was part of things, my family name bought me tolerance. I was too good to not have on the school teams, but I frequently sat alone going to the games and any opportunity to not include me was never overlooked. Why did we all cry alone in our bedrooms hidden from one another? Have they carried those scars with them though their lives, believing the lie that they are not good enough? Has anyone ever apologized to them? Are they added to the list of “friends” everyone collects to prove they were awesome, or, are they still being marginalized?
I think about the kids that got laughed at and never asked to dance. I think about the ones always picked last, the ones who were the butts of all the cruel jokes. I think about the ones who lost family members or had money problems and we either avoided their struggle because it made us uncomfortable. I think, with shame, about how sometimes they were laughed at for hurting. I wish I could have been more aware, more understanding, more kind. I know I could have been.
I know I should have been.
I think about how much little acts of kindness or understanding meant to me back then. I wish I had created more of those moments for others. Did I say kind things? Sometimes I search through boxes of memories without finding much evidence to reassure me and I am so disappointed in myself.
I do remember times when I was grateful to have the cruel attention of others on someone else instead of me and I hold those pictures where I can see myself standing there and saying and doing nothing. I may not have been the bully, I many not have even been laughing or cheering on the bully, but neither was a doing a single thing to stop it. I listened to stories that I knew were not true. I repeated some of them. I said hurtful things.
Anyone that I may have hurt or misunderstood, I have reached out to, to tell them I am sorry. I wanted them to know that it was not about them, it was my own insecurity, my own inability to deal with my emotions. It was just easier to scream at them, to blame someone else, then to do the right thing and admit I was wrong and accept the consequences. I was afraid if I did, if I admitted I was wrong and said I was sorry . . . that I would not be liked. I traded their pain for my weakness.
Those who I appreciated for their role in my life, I have sent notes of gratitude to.
I look around me today at the many people in my life and make sure that I say and do those things now. I know I don’t say everything that needs to be said but I am so much more aware. I know how much a kind word can make. I know that others hurt just like I do and if the pain in my life cannot at least teach me to be more compassionate to others, then what is the point? I refuse to take the hate and unkindness hurled at me and bleed for anyone anymore. I will let their attacks break me open and will rebuild myself to hold more love, more compassion,, more ability to see others. I remember the pain so that I am not the cause of that for another person. I am not always successful but I work at it.
I don’t want to sit at the end of my life and think about now and wish that I had been more aware and kind to others. If I know that one kind word or deed lifted someone, even for just a moment or a day, I can find peace.
I will not look away. I will see you.
Everyone deserves to be seen.