Batman and The Joker… Superman and Lex Luther… Iron Man and pretty much friggin’ everybody.
Since I was one of the smallest kids in school, I was bullied from Kindergarten until grade eleven.
We all have at least one nemesis. That someone from our past that hurt us in some way and the memory haunts us through our life. Some of us have more than one. I have three. Well, I had three. There has been an interesting thing for me about coming home; I’ve come face to face with a lot of things I was dealing with as a kid. Certainly not in the same manner as was the custom then (like getting beat up) and certainly not on the same terms. Some things have changed and some haven’t. It’s interesting the things that have changed and the things that haven’t.
It’s all perspective until reality shows up.
The funny thing about meeting my past is it isn’t nearly as scary as I would have thought it might be. The old axiom, “The truth shall set you free” has a lot of truth to it. Accepting that truth as truth is the important part. Of course, growing up hasn’t hurt. Nor has the fact that I am several inches taller than those who once chased me around the playground with the express purpose of laying a beating on me.
Doesn’t hurt I’m in better shape now either.
I sometimes think we should all meet our past face to face. More often than not, the people we hold grudges against don’t even know they hurt us and have no idea why we disappeared from their lives in the first place. Just as often, they have no recollection of the event or at least don’t remember it the way we do. In some cases though, there is a clear right and wrong and they know damned well on which side of the fence they fell. Bumping into them, especially unexpectedly, is a big deal.
In my case, there was a certain satisfaction meeting them or seeing them walk down the street or hearing they were incarcerated.
All three of my antagonists have had different fates. One I met recently seemed like a likable fellow. That doesn’t mean I would hang out with him and it’s good to know he seems to have his head screwed on straight and his fists unclenched. I shook his hand and the disruptive distant past disappeared.
The second nemesis I saw walking along the street. Life had clearly dealt him several blows I could not have dreamt up and (much to my embarrassment) there was a certain momentary satisfaction knowing I had turned out, for the most part, okay. That satisfaction quickly turned to feeling sorry for him. Again, the past disappeared.
The third is (was?) incarcerated. In his case, I am not surprised, honestly. His past never left him alone.
The thing about meeting, or finding out the status, of those who did you wrong, perceived or real, is it brings a sense of reality to your memories. Through the years, I had this fantasy of how their lives turned out. In one case I was right. I don’t feel vindicated at all. I feel apathy or pity… I’m not quite sure which. Facing reality… finding out what really happened over the course of many decades… tends to melt the fantasies away and leave a sense of completion. I have a sense the world is in balance. Each of the boys (now men) took different paths through their lives. The choices they made were different. The results were clearly different.
And knowing how they felt about me then, why would I want to subject myself to holding those memories when they clearly don’t remember them at all or the same way I do. The only person carrying the load was me! If they remember the events at all, it’s now their burden, not mine.
I think, in the end, knowing what I know now, I wouldn’t have carried that affliction for so long. I would have exorcised the ghosts long ago. But then, how can we really know? We don’t need to know, honestly. All we really need is to let go… to know that the little boy who was bullied is just fine and that’s all that matters.
I have no need to forgive and forget. There is suddenly nothing to forgive and odds are I won’t remember for much longer. It is over. The past events involving these people no longer carry weight and the memories can now be stored in a box and placed on a shelf in a closet somewhere in my mind. I’ll remember them when I’m ninety-four with a flowing white beard, Speedo tan lines, dementia and running down the street naked screaming their names.
It does sort of make me wonder what else I am carrying around that is no longer necessary. Hmm…
It's getting a bit stuffed in that closet.