“You stupid bitch! Can’t you do anything right?” he yelled very loudly at me.
My great sin? I accidentally hit the wrong number while entering his PIN on the ATM. I mean, it’s not like you can start over or back up and hit the right number or anything. It was the mistake of a lifetime. One to regret for all of eternity. No rectifying the situation.
Dude chill, I’ll redo it.
He was really, really, very angry as he continued to unload a bunch of thoughts about my many deficiencies.
I don’t remember what happened after that, although I am certain beyond a doubt I didn’t say another word as I drove him back to wherever he lived at the time.
I shut down. I always did.
I haven’t thought of that in forever. It has literally been 30 or more years since it happened. But it came roaring back to life during the day on New Year’s Eve. As if I was right back there in the moment.
I couldn’t shake it. I couldn’t make it go away. It hurt. Badly.
Why today of all days? And why, why, why does it still bother me?
My husband came into the room and, with hesitation, I confessed that I was struggling and needed help. I told him about what happened and how strongly it was affecting me and I couldn’t figure out why. We talked for a while as a few more memories came spilling out.
Memories like when dude said more than a few times, either by insinuation or outright, that I weighed too much. That I was getting fat. Realllllyyyy??? I don’t think so. Me now, sure. Me then? Nope, not even remotely close. Or how I could never, ever know an answer that he didn’t know. He would literally say I was cheating if I knew something he didn’t. I for sure cheated. Orrrrrr, maybe, just maybe, I was kind of, oh I don’t know, intelligent? I mean, we did get into the same university. A lot of accusations came flying my way out of his mouth and I just took it.
My husband suggested that I needed to forgive the guy.
I slowly shook my head, this pain was different. “No, I don’t think that’s it. I’ve already forgiven him.”
Then slowly the realization began to hit and I started sobbing, “No, not him. I’m so ashamed of me then.”
The shame was real and deep. Why didn’t I stand up for myself? Why wasn’t I stronger? Why didn’t I walk away? I don’t understand who I was then. I really don’t. She was a shameful person and you should be embarrassed by her. There is no way to fix her.
So much self-loathing. How am I back in this place again?
I need to forgive me.
We are all imperfect people surrounded by imperfect people. While difficult, I find my way to forgiving others I think I need to forgive. I find it nearly impossible to forgive myself.
My husband has told me more than a few times since we’ve been together that I am far too hard on myself. Far too critical. I’ve never understood why I’m like that. I’ve always just shrugged my shoulders at it. It’s just the way I am. But now, as I write this, I think I’m beginning to understand that this is something I, in large part, have learned to be.
One mistake, one step out of line and the consequences can be quite unpleasant. Don’t rock the boat, keep it steady — even so, smooth sailing is not guaranteed.
The thing is, I don’t need anyone to be harsh with me and I don’t need to be coddled either. I never have. If you coddle me, I won’t like it. However, if you come at me with harshness, deserved or not, I will undoubtedly fill in the blanks with greater self-condemnation.
The things I get down on myself most about now are almost identical to what I remember dude saying to me then. And I just now saw that while typing this piece. I had no idea…
Time to break those chains.
I think I’m going to make it a goal to begin unlearning self-condemnation and unforgiveness this year. I expect a fight, which scares me quite a bit.
Speaking of expecting a fight, interestingly enough, last night I had a dream and in the dream some guy dressed in a brown t-shirt and camouflage pants was talking. I could only hear mumbling at first but then I heard clearly, “You don’t go into battle without a rifle, you hear me?”
But didn’t Jesus die for this also? That there is now no condemnation for those of us who are in Christ Jesus? Why then should I heap it on myself if He doesn’t? If He has forgiven me, isn’t it time I learn to do the same?
Maybe you need to do the same for yourself too?
In the meantime, anybody got some bullets for the battle? I’m not looking for sermons of correction, but encouragement would be greatly appreciated.