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Changing the soundtrack of my life


Cherokee, Buddhist, Lesbian, Mathematician, Artist, Mensa member IQ 158, Former Punk Rocker, Database Geek by trade, Grandmother.


Zul's Links

APRIL 30, 2012 12:34PM

Crime and Punishment

Rate: 4 Flag

Forgiveness has been much on my mind lately.

  I want to learn to forgive in order to reduce the burden that I carry around. I tried to forgive my grandfather. I knew it would be in my own best interest. I tried getting angry. I walked through the pain. Nothing changed. I could not step back and away from the injury and the insult. I even thought of a way to reframe the incident and tried it out at therapy last week.

  Instead of thinking of the incident as a life-shattering blow that destroyed my sense of self and marked me as a victim to all predators to come, I reframed it as a cosmic slap in the face. I tried not to take it personally. I ignored the unholy curl of hatred and revulsion that twisted in my gut every time I thought of what he did. I tried to stop silently wailing ‘Why!’. I thought of it as if I had been hit by a train.

  I spent my childhood hiding literally and figuratively. I attempted to avoid notice by  blending into the woodwork. I survived on a day by day, moment by moment basis. This incident blew me out of the water.

  I distinctly remember standing at the head of my 4th grade class mortified and furious at the public humiliation of not remembering my multiplication tables. I stood there and felt the eyes of the world on me, laughing derisively. I swore I would quit school. Not very realistic and certainly an overreaction to the event. But in that moment, I gave up my hiding place. I had been blown off the tracks of my normal life and was too blinded by pain, fear and shame to find my way back. I was still spinning out of control when we had the next standardized test.

  I remember waiting out all of the previous tests, not answering many of the questions, and not really focusing on the problems. This time I was distracted and without thinking answered every question. The questions were easy and I didn’t have the fortitude to pretend they weren’t. When the test results came back, at home I went from “ You’re so stupid” to “A- might be good enough for some people, but we know that you can do better”.

I was awake and no longer hiding. I was still in danger, but having dropped my camouflage, I no longer had the choice to pick it back up again.

  This event blew through my life and changed me in many ways. Driven from hiding, I found a part of myself that I am proud of. I define myself by my ability to think and learn. I do well on tests,  and my IQ is in the top ¼ of 1 percent on the planet. I never have learned my multiplication tables correctly, but I ended up an honors math major.

 So this is how I framed the incident to the therapist and I was shocked when she didn’t call B.S. on it. She accepted this new truth at face value. I remained unconvinced.

 Last night I was at home trying to ignore the siren call of a slice of pizza sitting in the fridge. I was not physically hungry, just anxious and desperately trying to rationalize a reason to eat. I tried the self-meditation technique the therapist had just taught me, and  felt strangely relieved.

 I had an epiphany.

 Food is not a reward.

  I punish myself with food.

 Those words are laden with meaning and power. Punish. I know I punish myself. I thought that I was rewarding myself with food, but that is not true. I punished myself with food after being raped by my grandfather. Eating tasteless food flavored by the tears I was not allowed to shed. I punished myself eating a meal with the man who had just untied me and insisted on parading me in public. Gagging on my shame. I punished myself with my decision to become so ugly that no man would ever think of doing anything like that to me again. I remember the revolting mouth feel of the high fat milk product that I forced myself to buy and drink as I changed my diet from one that was vegetarian, almost vegan, to one that embraced meat and bread and butter and cream. I punished myself with anorexia and bulimia.

 I punish myself the way I have always been punished. I punish myself for the crime of being caught. I could not bring myself to forgive my grandfather even with the reframing because I don’t deserve forgiveness.

I am the person that I need to forgive. I need to stop punishing myself every moment.

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Powerful post, Zul. I didn't see the grandfather horror coming. I am so sorry for what you endured. Self-punishment is the worst, I have done (was anorexic also) and still do it too. Trying to get better. Rated.
Thanks, Erika. I find it ironic that I am punishing my self with food after all of the those years going to bed hungry. I'm still reeling and trying to work my way through this new way of thinking. It really helps to know that I'm not the only one. Mitigating the sense of shame and isolation is tremendous.Thank you.

I can't stand it when people tell me I have to forgive whomever hurt me. Pooey on that.

I am sitting here feeling such rage right now. For you and for me. Wow.

Go, Zul!