In the fifth and sixth grades, Physical Education was still largely recess. We went out on the playground for 30 minutes each day before lunch. We were directed by a 'coach' but we were not actually taught skills or given a grade.
I put the word 'coach' in quotation marks because the man that led us, was not a coach. He was a body builder and much more concerned about how he looked than what happened with the 10 and 11 year old children under his care for 30 minutes each day.
He was a cruel man in a lot of ways. Looking back with adult eyes, I still have trouble understanding his behavior. There are two incidents that happened early in my fifth grade year that still sting when I think of them.
The first is that he called me fat in front of my classmates, and they all laughed. As I have mentioned earlier, my features are soft. I've always had a very round face and full cheeks. I also entered puberty earlier than the other girls so at 10 years old, I had the beginnings of some curves and wore a bra. I was not fat! I was just not as angular as those other little girls who were still far from puberty.
In a second incident, he laughed at me when I fell while running on the blacktop. There was some gravel there, and I was running with the ball, and lost my balance. Having heard the story of my mother taking me to the doctor as a small child because I fell down so much, the laugh served as further confirmation of my inability to do anything athletic.
In my 10 year old brain, I decided the best course of action was to stop going to PE. I went in to the cafeteria and sat quietly waiting for my class mates to catch up to me. No one noticed, or if they did, the didn't mind. No one ever said anything to me. I was well behaved, so there was probably no reason to. I never mentioned it to my parents. It never occured to me to do so. I dealt with the problem and that was that.
From time to time the incidents would come to mind. I'd wonder why I never told my parents. I recognize that missing two years of physical skills really put me behind in the 7th grade when I had to go to gym. That was probably the foundation of the idea I had until college that I was physically inept. (I'll save the college story for another time.)
Just last week, this 'coach' came to mind again, and I decided I was going to blog about him. Initially, I was going to name his name because I didn't care to protect him. Then I decided it would be more fun to call him "Coach Fail" because that was an apt description. As I comtemplated the post, I cried. The memories of his face as he laughed were quite hurtful. I decided that I needed to work through the emotion of it a little more and really work on forgiving him before I wrote a post. I laid on the bed and said over and over that I was releasing the anger and bitterness. Although, I didn't think about those incidents all the time, there was a lot of anger and bitterness buried inside of me towards him.
Towards the end of the week, I began to think that I was over it and I would write a post. Then I decided, what was the point, I'd worked through it and there was no reason to share my vehemence with the world. Today I changed my mind. Today I saw his obit. He'd actually died some time ago and out of state. Today's obit was to announce a memorial service. Apparently, he died a slow and painful death. I am sorry. No matter what my personal issues were, I did not wish that on him.
I think that I should take a message from seeing that obit today. I really do need to bury that piece of my history. It is dead. It can harm me no more. It is over and I can move forward now. I am emotionally lighter even if I'm not yet physically lighter.
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5 days ago