A book I know well says, “We will not regret the past, nor wish to close the door on it.” I have tried for years to come to terms with that concept. To make it part of my self-perception. Internalizing the idea is pretty difficult for me because much in my past I wish had been otherwise than it was.

With big brother, well before third grade

With big brother, well before third grade

I know, I know. Everyone can say that—and would if she were being unabashedly honest. But whether wishing it were not so is the same as regretting, I’ll let keener minds than mine decide. My distinction is that I can regret only those choices I made consciously and willingly, while I can wish experiences over which I had little or no control had not happened.

When I was in third grade, I gained an inordinate amount of weight. Miss Marcy of Longfellow School in Scottsbluff, NE, said in front of my classmates as she weighed me for my report card, “One hundred and sixteen pounds. What have you been eating, lead?” If I had had any understanding of my situation, I would have fired back at her, “No, bitch. I’ve been raped by a highly respected straight Christian man, and you, bitch, would do well to track him down.” I don’t hold many grudges at this point (I know how unhealthy they are for me and how little influence they have on their object), so I’ll simply say Miss Marcy should never have been turned loose on a bunch of third graders.

There, you have two for the price of one—two experiences I had NO control over when I was in third grade.
I am now, at 68 years old, living out one of the results of that straight Christian man’s abuse. I don’t give him the power that might appear to bestow on him. He was a cowardly and hypocritical bastard, and I have long since put to rest my hatred of him (my description of him is not hatred—it is simply accurate). However, the residual effects of his violence are with me yet.

As of last week, I walk with a cane. This is, I have instructed my physical therapist, to last one more week, and by then he will have fixed my hip so it is no longer necessary. Oh, come on, it’s the joke we have together. I know it will take as long as it takes. But those 116 pounds Miss Marcy so ignominiously announced to the class were one of the lasting effects of Mr. Straight Christian Man’s abuse. I have had a difficult time ever since loving or even taking care of my body.

That time in college

That time in college

Only once in my life have I taken off enough of that extra weight and exercised enough to be really healthy and attractive. That was when I was a sophomore in college and had just announced to the world that I was gay. I’ve taken on and put off that weight—as everyone who has ever struggled with weight—several times since then, but I have never had enough care for myself to strengthen the muscular core of my body enough so it can cope with injuries to my extremities.

Is this Mr. Straight Christian Man’s fault? That’s not what I’m saying. Other factors influenced my less-than-healthy choices for my whole life (I’m lazy?). But at the center, at the core of my emotional being is the knot of pain that—as more than one psychiatrist has told me—can never completely heal.

So three months ago I fell and hurt my hip and didn’t take care of it or even tell a doctor or a PT or anyone who might have done anything about it. I’m not strong enough to hold myself upright to keep my full weight from landing on that hip every time I take a step, and those ligaments just keep getting bruised over and over again.

So I walk with a cane.

But I do not regret the past. So I am also taking classes at the Tom Landry Fitness Center at Baylor Hospital in Dallas to strengthen my core—and “water walking” to get the exercise I need. And walking with a cane. Taking care of myself.

I take care of myself

I take care of myself

There’s an old Christian idea that “death has no dominion over us.” I don’t have a clue what that means. But I’m trying (still) to learn that neither Mr. Straight Christian Man nor Miss Marcy has any dominion over me.

I hope if you know a kid who suddenly changes in some drastic way, you won’t make fun of him.

About Harold Knight
Retired English prof, SMU. Old man. Musician. Passionate about justice, equality, freedom. Therefore, I am a fervent supporter of and advocate for the Palestinian People as they struggle to survive genocide. That also means, of course, I have no use for US 45.

3 Responses to RSVP

  1. bobritzema says:

    This is the sort of post that I can’t click “Like” for, though I do like it that you had the courage to write it. Best wishes in becoming free of the dominion that Straight Christian Man and Miss Marcy still have. I hope you can make sufficient peace with your body that you can provide it with consistent care and nurture.

  2. Pingback: “. . . like a mammy bending over her baby. . .” redux | Me, senescent

  3. Pingback: “. . . for the individual has become the eternal echo of this voice. . .” (Søren Kierkegaard) | Me, senescent

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