Until recently, I had, off & on, wrestled emotionally with a specific period of my childhood. When I was 10—11 years old, I had a pretty flawed teacher who abused a fair number of students but seemed to focus most of his attention on me. I didn’t realize the extent of it at that time, but years later former classmates confirmed it. He paddled kids in front of the class. We all got the paddle and some insults, but he seemed to relish tormenting me. He gave me a rude nickname that stuck with me until I graduated elementary school. He was asked to leave the school the year I graduated, and he left teaching to open a hardware store. Later on I learned he did the same thing in each class he taught. Picked one person to torment.
To this day I have no idea why he did what he did, but the effects stayed with me strongly for the next few years and continued to linger during my adult life. I tried various techniques to purge this man’s presence from my heart. I wrote a short story about it. I meditated, visualizing comforting and consoling 11-year-old Tony, telling him I would never let anyone treat “us” that way again… but it never seemed to be enough. I knew perfectly well there were far worse experiences to have as a child, but this stayed with me. I wanted to find a way to own it. I had considered contacting him, even tracking down his address. But somehow, confronting him as an adult seemed to me like I was acknowledging he still had the power. I wasn’t ready to forgive him.
Last month a friend passed me a copy of The Wheel of Life, A Memoir of Living and Dying by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, MD. She insisted I “had” to read it, but couldn’t explain why she felt that way. It was not high on my list of choices, but her “reason” is the type of thing that compels me to do something. I read it.
At one point during Kübler-Ross’ childhood, a mean-spirited minister teaching religious instructions forcefully knocked together the heads of Kübler-Ross’ sister and a fellow student. He had erroneously thought they had made a mistake reciting a psalm. Kübler-Ross went ballistic, threw the psalmbook and hit the minister in the face. She screamed at him “I don’t want to be part of any religion you are teaching!” and dashed out of the school. The passage shocked and delighted me. What presence of mind she had as a child. What integrity.
Later in the day, after reading that excerpt, while daydreaming, I saw 11-year-old Tony sitting at his desk. The teacher called him to the front of his class and opened his desk drawer to reach for his paddle. And 11-year-old Tony stood up and said “No.” I was a little startled. The teacher did an angry double take. 11-year-old Tony went on to say “I don’t care if you call my parents. I am not letting you hit me anymore.” And the daydream ended. My mouth was hanging open. I felt that. I knew from that moment on, I owned my past… because I had changed my past. It took Kübler-Ross to show me the words I needed to express, but I did it all over again 45 years ago, when and where it mattered.
Yes. You can change the past. Try it.
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TEN DAYS AWAY: On Friday August 20th, at 8pm, I will be giving a talk called “You Create Your Own Reality: The Lessons of the Seth Material & Ways To Apply Them To Your Life” for The Eyes Of Learning, in Hicksville, Long Island, NY. If you wish to attend, go to http://eyesoflearning.org/programs-and-events and scroll down to August 20th for details. ($10 members, $15 non-members) The Eyes of Learning Center is Long Island’s “oldest and most respected metaphysical learning center” and they always have interesting talks and demonstrations scheduled. If you live on Long Island, check them out.