One comment! One offhanded remark. 20 years to overcome the damage.
Looking back, the simplicity of one persons off handed incredibly cruel and hurtful remark left lasting scars that even I didn’t fully understand the damage done for nearly 2 decades.
I was a 19, nearly 20 year old kid. I had gone to serve a mission for my church in Argentina. I ended up re-injuring my knee and before I knew it I was home preparing for another surgery.
After months of therapy and rehab, i was unable to get a medical clearance to return and was left sitting home unable to complete the mission I had so looked forward to for years.
Months of pain, rehab, crutches and knee braces had passed and the mobility was slowly returning. My heart ached as I no longer felt I belonged anywhere. I struggled to find my place at home, in my family, in my church and in school. I wasn’t supposed to be back for another year, yet here I was, struggling to find myself and struggling to belong.
The vile rumors swirled throughout members of my ward and stake. I heard them often, kept my distance and sat alone each sunday. My heart aching to be accepted again.
Then 9 little words spoken. Stan Gammon had been my leader, my confidant and friend throughout my youth. He had been an advisor to my young mens group from the time i was twelve until eighteen. i admired this man. i looked up to this man. I respected this man and his opinion greatly.
I had been asked to teach the 8 year old sunday school class. I was thrilled to be given this calling and excited that maybe I could start fitting in again. This fleeting feeling of acceptance flashed by so fast, within the hour I was left bewildered, hurt confused, lost and feeling more alone than I had ever felt in my life.
You see, Stan had a son that was about 9 at the time. When it was announced that I would be teaching the 8 year olds, within the hour Stan had approached me asking what age group I would be teaching. Excitedly I told him the 8 year olds.
The past 9 months of anguish, loneliness and despair surged upon me, destroying my spirit in the process as 9 small words were spoken by this man, words that unknowingly would haunt me for decades to come.
“GOOD, AT LEAST YOU WON’T BE CORRUPTING MY CHILDREN!”
This was a man whom for 6 years I had respected, looked up to and trusted. His response ignited all the pent up emotions I had been suppressing for nearly a year. This made all the other rumors and gossip that much more difficult to face. If this man believed that of me, a man who knew me well, then how would anyone else ever see my worth?
I held it in, believing they were only words spoken by an ignorant man, yet subconsciously they cut deep and hurt more than any words ever spoken to me.
I held it in, I held everything in. The words ate at my soul. i never dealt with them. They had created within me a belief that I was worthless and that if these people who knew me for all these years couldn’t love me, then who would?
The next 20 years brought tremendous heartache, rejection, loneliness and despair. While my career thrived, I shut everyone out, not letting anyone get close enough to me to ever hurt me again.
This only compounded my sadness. I was the one hurting. Not them. i allowed this man’s hateful, mean and vile remarks to rob me of the happiness and love that I deserved. In my relationships, I chose people who would hurt me as I believed that was all I was worth and that I didn’t believe I deserved better.
Then one day about 8 years ago I was listening to a talk while driving back from some sales calls in California. As I listened about healing emotional scars from the inside out and how many times we don’t even understand the reasons why the original scar is there in the first place. The deepest scars are often the hardest to pinpoint the event that caused them.
Desiring to know what caused my deepest scars, I prayed continually while driving for the next 9 hours. As i pondered this question, my mind raced back to this event in my life and it all fit together. This was the event that shook my foundation and self belief.
As I again faced this event, I was able to process how this changed my self esteem and how everything beyond that moment was impacted. I began to take control of it and stop letting it control me. It was a process and at times difficult to relive.
My life now is amazing and the opportunities ahead divine.
Seize the moments in life, and never let the words or actions of others control your own happiness. We are solely responsible for making our lives amazing. It is our choice just as this was my choice to let his words hurt me and destroy my happiness for so long.
What we believe in ourselves, others will also.