Last week I was talking with a friend, and they mentioned an acquaintance who was struggling with something. My friend kept telling me that this other person had bad stuff in their past, as an explanation for why this person is the way they are. Of course, this got me to thinking. Don’t we all have bad stuff in our past? Sure, my bad stuff may seem like nothing to you and vice versa, but at the end of the day, we all have things that have happened to us that have turned us into the people we are. When I was growing up, my mom would always tell me that I could either get bitter or better based on things that happened. Out of everything my mom has taught me, this has probably been the thing that has stuck with me the most.
The thing is, I’m a processor. Whenever something happens to me, I need time to process the situation. Now, depending on the event, my processing time may be anywhere from a few hours, to a few days, to several years. I’ve been processing something that happened years ago, and the conversation with my friend last week, kickstarted my brain back into functioning mode. I’ve been debating all weekend whether or not to write about this. I finally came to the conclusion that the things that I have buried in my life are only going to harm me as long as I chose not to face them and keep them buried inside. There’s freedom in talking about things. Because I don’t want to get sued, I’m not going to write out all details (like names or dates). Suffice it to say, what I’m about to talk about happened several years ago, and I have more fingers on my hands than people who know about this.
When I was growing up as a pastor’s kid, every Sunday I almost always found myself standing at the back of the church with my parents after service. We would greet the congregation as they filed out heading for their cars and their lunches. Part of this ritual involved having my hand shaken, and getting hugs from nearly everyone who passed through. I never gave much thought to this practice, it was just what we did.
One Sunday, as people were passing through, one of the guys (he was probably in his late 20’s) gave me this hug, and for the first time in my life I got seriously creeped out by a guy. I brushed it off, and told myself it was nothing.
Except it wasn’t.
The next few weeks, every Sunday this guy would make a bee-line for me, and give me a hug that was just a bit over the line and intimate. One week, I tried hiding behind my parents, but not make it obvious I was. Unfortunately, that didn’t dissuade him.
Finally, after about a month of this, things came to a head. I came up with a plan to avoid this guy. As the service ended one Sunday, and we were walking to the back of the sanctuary, I asked my dad if I could have his keys so I could go to his office. He fished them out, and I quickly made my exit. My plan was to lock myself in his office and hide until everyone had left. I had just stuck the key in the door when I heard someone say my name, and by instinct I turned. There stood the guy. “I didn’t get my hug.” he said. He then proceeded to push me into the place where the door met door frame and give me this hug that to this day makes my skin crawl. Now, other, smarter, more savvy kids would’ve fought and gone running. I was in such shock I just stood there frozen with a brain that wouldn’t work, at all. Just then, this guy’s brother-in-law walked in, and I was released. Creepy guy took off, and I finished unlocking the office door, ran in and shut and locked myself in.
Not long after that creepy guy and his wife stopped being around so much, and I didn’t get any more awful hugs.
Now, I’m sure you’re wondering why my parents didn’t do something. Truthfully, they didn’t know until a few years ago, long after all this happened. I never said one word about what happened, and mostly blocked it from my memory. I was certain that I must have been a bad person to have something like that happen. I was certain it was all my fault. I no longer believe it was my fault. I’m not the naive innocent little thing now that I was then. I now realize that this guy had problems, and I just happened to be someone he set his sights on.
I really thought I had pretty much dealt with this. Then, this last week, I started thinking about the fact that even though nothing truly “bad” happened (although, I firmly believe if his brother-in-law hadn’t walked in something bad would’ve happened), this quick moment changed a lot in my life. I really shut down emotionally. I used to be this person who cared about other people and wanted to help and take care of them. I was definitely an extrovert. Following the hug, I slowly became more and more internalized, and now I’m a full-blown introvert. I struggle to force myself to be around people. The biggest change, though, is this:
No, I’ve not been turned into a llama. I do, however, have major issues with being touched. There are 10 people (this isn’t an exaggeration, I can count them all on my fingers, no toes needed) I know that I am willing to let touch me without wanting to physically push them away and then go and shower. What I find alarming is the fact that as much as I want a guy in my life, the idea of being touched terrifies me (and let’s face it, physical touch is part of relationships). I’ve also come to realize that much as I hate how heavy I am, I’ve not mentally been into losing the weight. Sure, I’ve given it a good go, but my mind has never been connected with the program. I think I’ve been using my fat as a defense. While there are guys who don’t mind fat girls, most guys avoid them. Being avoided because I’m fat means that I’m not going to get touched.
I’m sick of this. I’m horrified that I’ve let someone else’s issues have such an invasive effect on my life. He was a slimy sleazo, and yet his actions have had more influence over me than I thought possible. I refuse to let him win anymore. I’m tuned in now. I’m worth more than I’ve chosen to believe, and it’s past time for this weight to come off.