The Ripple Effect – Part 3
Last month I moved back to my childhood home. This has been a difficult transition for me, but an important one. There is a person who lives in this neighborhood whom I harmed in a very deep and long lasting way 20 years ago. In all this time I never talked to this person to express remorse or shame for my actions, even though there have been many opportunities. Instead, every time I saw this person I judged them for the bad decisions they were making in their life.
Today, for the first time in 20 years this person confronted me about what I had done. It came completely out of the blue and after an already intensely emotional day of processing old baggage. I didn’t know what to say or do. All I could say was I’m sorry, over and over again. This person whom I’d harmed was gracious and forgiving, their significant other was even helpful in a way I specifically needed at that moment. I was and am still in shock. All I could say was “Thank you” and “I’m so sorry”. I told this person that if there was ever anything I could do for them, to please let me know. And then I went home and my mind started processing the day’s events.
This next portion may be hard for some to read and hear from me, and I will gladly accept any judgement you make of me.
When I first harmed this person I was scared for myself. I thought I was going to go to prison for a very long time and have a permanent record of Sexual Assault on a Minor Child. Yes, that’s what I did. I should have gone to jail, but I didn’t. The universe has a strange way of working things out sometimes. Instead of going to jail I had sexual assault perpetrated against me and my children time and time again. I learned the very real and intense pain of being the victim of such a crime. I never connected the two things. I never realized that I was being taught in a very real way what I had done to someone else.
The pain I caused didn’t end there. The entire time I was judging this person for the bad decisions they were making, did I once stop to think that maybe my actions were partly the cause of their actions? No, I didn’t. Not once. Did I ever stop to think about how my actions would affect this person entire future, and their children’s and grand children’s future? No I didn’t, not once. The ripple effect of that terrible wrong I did spread out and affected so many other people. I never thought about those long term effects and I’m so sorry for the pain I caused.
Today I’m grateful for this deep realization about myself, and my actions. I hope that I am able to learn and grow from this lesson. I hope that I am able to heal the wrongs I’ve done and that I am able to be forgiven for this horrible mistake. I’m grateful that the person I harmed was able to finally speak up and confront me for what I’d done, and I’m grateful for his ability to forgive and move on.