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I lied and it’s my fault…

Not recently.  Actually it was 21 years ago.

I’m a grown man, a soon to be father of two children, a husband and yet the memories from an event 21 years ago are still as painful (maybe more) than the day it happened when I was 18 in high school.

The internet is a wonderful tool.  Instant everything.  It is literally the ‘world wide’ web bringing forgotten faces and memories back to us not matter how far we run or how much we try to hide the past.  In a millisecond, names and faces of people you haven’t seen in decades pop up in front of you- flooding you with memories rather left forgotten.

The Child is the Father to the Man

-Sigmund Freud

I was captain of the soccer team for our little private high school soccer team.  We didn’t have a football team, so soccer was THE SPORT.  We were pretty good.  Being an international school, there were players from Mexico, Columbia, Spain, and of course the locals.  The coach was a tough german whose motto was,

It’s good to trust, but it’s better to know

It was my senior year and we left for a weekend soccer tournament by bus to stay in a small hotel/motel nearby for the weekend.  I don’t know what failure of good sense got into me but I made the tragic mistake of calling my girlfriend on the hotel phone and charged it to another room.

While that was bad enough, the coach found out someone was making long distance phone calls and he wanted me, as captain of the team, to find out who.  Here it is, after 21 years, a memory that still pains me today.

I lied.

Coach lined up all the players and asked the responsible party to come forward and there I was standing next to him playing dumb.  In the end, I admitted it was me- but it took awhile and it wasn’t pretty.

Four years of soccer to become captain and that was gone.

We got creamed that weekend.  We were overpowered, overplayed, and simply put- dominated.  I played twice as hard somehow hoping to compensate for a dumb mistake that turned into the black hole of idiotic decisions that once you’re sucked in you have no hope of ever finding you’re way out.

The season ended, the year ended, and I headed off to Georgia Tech for my freshman year.  I never went back.

Looking back now I can see decision after decision that was made subconsciously predicated on the outcome of that one event so long ago.

Guilt, shame, blame, all of the above.  I don’t know what kind of story I told myself over the years that made it SO painful.

The memory popped into my head today and I realized while I admitted to making the phone call I never really fessed up to being a coward and hiding from the truth and I think that’s what truly pains me today.

I lied and it was my fault.

We were all young once.  We all make seemingly tragic mistakes.  Sometimes the outcomes ruin lives.  I realize now that it doesn’t have to be that way.  Consciously looking back, my stupidity was just one of the many dumb things kids do growing up.  I feel lucky that the lesson I took from that experience was to stand and face the music because the feeling inside is so much worse than any punishment others could exert.  I’m human, I’m flawed, and now I’m a parent (who is still human and flawed).  I think the pain stems from my ego, but I can accept the idea of being less than perfect, of making mistakes, of being ‘bad’ more so now at 39 that I might have at 18.

I think Freud was right, but my hope is that we can learn to forgive ourselves before we are boxed into a life of misery based on the mistakes of an innocent child.  As a parent, I would never want a lifetime of guilt or shame for my child- why would we allow that for ourselves?

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3 comments to I lied and it’s my fault…

  • Jerry Latell

    Wow! If that’s the worst of it you did pretty well. I have suppressed most of my memories of misbehavior at that same school. Although I still have vivid memories of not being as kind to some of my friends as I should have been, and that does bother me. I truly hope my kid is a better person than I’ve been.

    But before I allow you to suck me into watever you are going through, I’d like to point out that you were probably just being used as a karmic conduit. There were many on that team who had it coming, and probably still do.

  • big cheese

    Oh- I did worse, but the memories aren’t as painful. Funny how that works.

    Boys in a herd- domestic lord of the flies? Just happy to get out alive!

    Karmic conduit or karmic lightning rod, I have to believe (hope) that one incident sharpened my moral compass, in a Pavlovian sense, that has helped me stay out of trouble since. Shameful, embarrassing, regrettable- but important.

  • big cheese

    Why write about something so seemingly unrelated?

    I meet and talk to so many people who express the desire, “If only I could do that”- whatever THAT is…

    I don’t see a physical ball and chain staking them to their current course so it must be a psychological stake that anchors firmly into their known future.

    Being an armchair social psychologist, the only logical reason I can see people sticking to a less than ideal future is a primal need to move away from pain and towards pleasure. Pain maybe being fear of the unknown and pleasure being comfort of the known.

    Anyway, if you really want to live a full life (by your definition, not mine) but your not making progress- look back young man and teach the child the future does not have to be the past repeated.