Do you have one of those events that continues to haunt you from your childhood that you just can’t let go? One that leaves you feeling full of shame? If you could go back and do it differently, you would?
I don’t remember exactly how old I was when this took place but I know that I was in junior elementary, so grade 5 or 6. In the winter at my elementary school we had a huge mountain of snow (at least from my perspective at that time) that was created from plowing a part of the school yard. We were allowed to play on this mountain of snow during our recesses and lunch breaks. Often times we would run to the top and then slide to the bottom, only to do it all over again. This one particular day I was playing on this mountain of snow. It was after school so there was no teacher supervision. There was another girl playing there as well. She was much smaller than I was. We were sliding down the hill and then running back up only to do it again. We did this for quite some time and then out of the blue we were both standing on the top of the hill and I shoved her off. For no apparent reason I could feel something akin to contempt overwhelming me and I gave her a shove. I wanted her off my hill. I wanted to show her who was the most powerful. She tumbled to the bottom and then ran towards her home, crying. I slid down the hill another time or two and then headed home myself.
My sisters and I were what would later be called “latch key kids.” Both of our parents started work before we left for school and returned home from work an hour or so after we got home from school. It was a different time and a different world. We would do our homework or start to prepare supper when we got home from school. This particular day I headed home, with my parents arriving not long after I got there. Supper was being made. While it was being prepared the telephone rang. I can still see the phone as vividly as if I were still there in the dining room looking at it on the wall in the kitchen. I can hear the phone as though it were ringing at this very moment in my home now. Unconsciously I must have known it was not going to be a good phone call.
My mum answered the phone and spoke to someone on the other end. I heard my mum say “She would never do that!” It was a short conversation that continued to include my mum repeating again and again “she would not do that!” When Mum hung up the phone she looked at me and said, “Did you push Karen (I don’t remember her name so this one works) off the hill at school?” I can still feel my heart pounding, my brain racing, my palms getting sweaty. “No” I answered hoping my mum wouldn’t catch me in a lie. “I didn’t think you would!”, she said. The conversation ended never to be spoken about again.
It is a scene that I find often being replayed in my mind and when it does, I hear myself saying things like, “you are a bully”, “you are a loser because you pick on kids smaller than yourself”, “you deserve for people not to like you”, “if people really knew you they would not like you”, “you are a mistake”, “you are good for nothing”. It would bring on overwhelming feelings of shame. Deep, deep shame.