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On Laughter and Forgetting

Dear Page 48,

Hello, it's me again.
Six years now.
How time has flown.
Not really.
It has actually been very hard for me.
I wish I could say it has been easy.
That freedom is great and was worth every single moment of humiliation that I endured that day and many days after.
The truth is, you hurt me in a way nobody else ever has.

I have tried to put you where you belong, which is nowhere in my life. I wish I had never met you. I wish you had not been in my life. But wishing is not real.  What's real is that for some reason, you were there, and then I was there, and the rest has been my history, because I imagine you have not spent a second thinking about what you have done.

I remember the first encounter on that day in a room full of people, when you questioned why I was even there.  I stood there, waiting for the person who actually placed me there to respond. Looking back, on that day, I wish I had walked away, but I trusted in my leaders, as I aways had, that their intentions were good, and that their wisdom would see this and other issues through in days to follow.

Six years has passed, and I have found my way. I have been successful. And I am freakin' awesome. But I have questions.  Why would you feel the need to hurt me this way, and why does it hurt so much.

As for the first question, as to your why, I can only think that in some way I must have been a threat.  I really don't know what your problem is or was, and quite honestly, I don't care.  But looking back now, what disturbs me the most is that this was not an accidental encounter, a poor choice of words, or a weak moment in judgment.  What disturbs me the most is that it was . . . orchestrated.  Planned.  Practiced. What disturbs me most is that you meant to do what you did. You meant to hurt me.

And you did, and I was surprised how much. Which leads to my second question(s) that I asked myself over and over again  - why does this hurt so much? Why can't I just put it behind me?  Chalk it up to a bad experience? Shake it off, as my dad would say after I got knocked down on the basketball court.  

Immediately after the event, it would take four months for me to stop crying and being afraid to venture out. And still over those four months, I tried to find a compromise - to find a way back to my life, and my livelihood. But try as I might, it became clearer and clearer to me that the problem would exist where ever I might land, because in actual fact, the problem was not you, or me. It was bigger than both of us. It was part of the system. The Circle which we were part of maintaining through our collective being.

The circle.  I am reminded of a book I studied in University by Milan Kundero, "The Book of Laughter and Forgetting", wherein the opening story is that of a man who was removed from the government. His likeness was air brushed out of photos, except for his hat.

“That is when I understood the magical meaning of the circle. If you go away from a row, you can still come back into it. A row is an open formation. But a circle closes up, and if you go away from it, there is no way back. It is not by chance that the planets move in circles and that a rock coming loose from one of them goes inexorably away, carried off by centrifugal force. Like a meteorite broken off from a planet, I left the circle and have not stopped falling. Some people are granted their death as they are whirling around, and others are smashed at the end of their fall. And these others (I am one of them) always retain a kind of faint yearning for that lost ring dance, because we are all inhabitants of a universe where everything turns in circles.” ― Milan KunderaThe Book of Laughter and Forgetting

As the months and years went on (two to be exact), I began to appreciate the surreal properties of the circle, from an outsider's point of view.  But it took time for me to  understand the consequences of what had actually happened.

It would take four months before I could be clear enough to know that there was no return.  It would be another two years before I gave up looking for a job after repeatedly being turned away, ignored or turned down for jobs for which I was qualified.  It was as if my 20 year career never existed - as if I never existed. That everything I had worked for, accomplished and been rewarded for through awards and promotions was erased from the photo, like it never was.   The circle had closed, and my likeness had been successfully removed from the past.

Why does it hurt so much? Because it was personal.

So Page 48, the rest is my history and not yours.  Every day has been about making my own way, creating my own circle, and surrounding myself with people who see my value and appreciate what I can offer to the circle.

You will always be there, unfortunately, like the hat that was never photoshopped out. And I am grateful for that, because the memory teaches me to be stronger than you were capable of being. And freedom is pretty great. So FU and thank you.



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