When you think back to your childhood or maybe even yesterday, is there a moment when you were unkind to someone – teased them perhaps a little too much, or just plain thought of yourself first?
When you remember the details of it how do you feel?
She lay in her bed crying. He lay in his bed crying.
Here is their story.
She was nine years old, her sister was 10 years older and developmentally challenged. They were watching a hockey game. The sister was cheering for her favourite team, the Edmonton Oilers; Gretzky, Messier and the crew. She was cheering for the Montreal Canadians. The Canadians won and she teased her sister that her team was superior and that her sister’s team was a bunch of losers, and that her sister picked losers. She made her sister cry.
That night after the game she lay in her bed crying. In distress, worried, about how mean she was as a person. She lay in her bed quietly crying her heart out.
Twenty years later. Here is his story.
He was nine years of age and he, and his brother who was five years younger, were invited to a birthday party four doors down the street. The older brother, was fussing over him, and correcting him (after all he was the older brother and knew the ways of the world).
This watching over become tedious to him. So he brought his brother home and then went back to the party.
That night, with everyone in bed for the night there was sobbing. The uncontrolled wails. A soul aching with upset.
After some coaxing, the story poured forth in jerky sobs. He had brought his brother home early and went back to the party – and his brother had missed out. Missed out on the pizza, missed out on the goody bags, and even the movie.
He had been “mean,” he said and he told her how awful he felt. The sobbing renewed.
She told him, that she was happy to see him cry, and know it upset him deeply, because it proved what a good person he was. Yes, he did a mean thing, but he felt it. His heart cried out in response because he was a good person who made a mistake.
She told him to remember this feeling always, so that when he started to do something that didn’t feel quite right – he would remember this lesson of heartache. They hugged and he was able to fall asleep in self forgiveness.
Later that night, she lay in her bed quietly sobbing in relief of, the gentle, and long overdue, forgiveness she was now able to give herself. She was able to realize that she too a good person who simply made mistakes – and knew it.
I became thankful that at nine years of age some 20 years earlier, I had, with my private tears and heartache proved I, too, was a good person – just like my son.
Dawn Humphreys is an East Sooke resident and author of the upcoming book Straight Talk from a Zig Zag Girl.