I have never understood what happened to me that fall day many, many years ago when I was an adolescent child.
Down the street there lived a girl of my same age. I felt like I was superior to her because my parents were respectable and her parents did something unthinkable among my relatives; they drank. Not only that, they often fought with each other loudly and yelled at their two daughters almost constantly. Yet the little girl who was my age was universally liked. She was always pleasant and was a strong leader on the playground. I was jealous of her and in that way I felt inferior to her. This made a powerful combination of feelings for me; but we got on tolerably well. When it came to brain power, I was the stronger one and she often had me help with her home work and asked me advice about the many problems she had with her parents. I often tried to keep her out of trouble with them. Therefore I was usually in the dominant position in our friendship and that suited me fine.
Then one day, I did something so bad I have never told another soul about it until now. I cannot recall the full circumstances but I guess she made me mad. I went back to my house and found that no one else was home. Alone in the house, I phoned her and said many mean things to her. I think I stabbed her with the fact that her mother was a drunk. I know I said unfamiliar cuss words that tumbled out of my mouth unrelated to any thought process whatever. Even before I hung up the phone, I was embarrassed and ashamed.
That pleasant little girl had been verbally abused all of her life. That may be why she never seemed to hold it against me that I had said such horrible things to her and said them in a frenzy of rage. She didn’t treat me any differently afterwards than she had before.
Like I said, I have no idea what came over me. It was the only time in my life I have said such words and I said them with such hate. I have been ashamed all the many years since, but this—like everything else in life has influenced me. Life is in many ways a mystery. If I don’t even know the source of my own actions it is easy to understand that I, like that sweet little neighbor girl of so many years ago, must be willing to forgive the actions of others.