This morning as I sit on my balcony with my hot coffee and cool breeze in complete and utter comfort, the word “amends” was floating around my head. Not because I was on the 8th or 9th step of the 12-step program, but because Rob was having breakfast with someone who was, and Rob was on his list. Before he left, I tried to be the encouraging and supportive wife. Be open, be receptive, and be respectful. Remember the old Indian proverb, “Walk a mile in another man’s moccasins.”
As Rob was sitting a block away at a diner, we swore we would never, EVER go to; I thought about how brave this man was. Not Rob, although he is pretty brave, the man making amends. I didn’t know if I could go through that process. I didn’t know if I would want to drag up the last 25 years of everything that I did wrong and how I hurt people. I started, however, making a list of people I might have offended and I was surprised how quickly the list grew.
Does justifying your actions mean they don’t have to be on the “Amends” list? I don’t know because I’m not in the 12-step program. I went through that list in my head one by one; I came up with the one name that I couldn’t justify my actions. It’s a name from 5th or 6th grade that haunts me: Elizabeth Gerring.
In 1970 whatever, bullying was not in the front of everyone’s mind like it is today. A boy named Jerome indeed bullied me. He was a bratty little kid, and he punched me in my ear, knocking my head against the brick wall of outside wall of the gym. I went home, told my dad, and he immediately put me in the car and drove us to Jerome’s house. When Jerome opened the door, and my dad saw he was about a foot shorter than me, he looked at me and said, “Are you kidding me?” Back to the car and home we went. But that same year, I am not proud of it, I was a bully to Elizabeth.
We use to have these “Listening Stations” in 5th & 6th grade; there would be 7 of us sitting around a table with headphones on listening to something. What I remember most was you could talk, and the other kids would hear it through the headphones. This is where the bullying happened. I remember chanting “Elizabeth Gerring is a herring” and all the other kids laughing, well all except for Elizabeth. This haunts me to this day. With all the social media out there Elizabeth Gerring is a person I CANNOT find and, believe me, I have looked.
So, I’m sorry Elizabeth, what I did to you was unacceptable and wrong. There are no excuses. I was mean and stupid, and if I could go back to Center Street Elementary School and take it all back, I would in a heartbeat.
Just writing I’m sorry doesn’t make me feel any better. I doubt she reads my blog, so it seems insincere. But maybe that is what Step 9 is for, the in-person amends. It’s an interesting exercise to perform, making that list. I challenge you to make your list. Whether or not you act on it is a different story. But just make the list.
Photo Credit: celebraterecoverycherokeevillagee.org