I was in fifth grade when I first became aware of a character defect in me, though I didn’t label it as such at the time. A bunch of us were in line for the teacher’s desk to have her check our papers and someone broke in line in front of me, whereupon I got out of line and retired to my desk, where I pouted. Does that suggest some kind of self punishment? Not as much as I had in the seventh grade when I recall reading the newspaper “social page” for reports of parties I hadn’t been invited to!
Of course the number of my character defects has increased exponentially–or at least my awareness of them–but one that remains is a stubborn unforgiveness of being called a liar directly or indirectly. In the early part of ninth grade the teacher caught someone talking when she wasn’t supposed to and in my loose boundaries and over identification tendencies I put my hand over my mouth in empathic reponse, and the teacher mis-interpreted my response and accused me of having talked, too. I told her I hadn’t and she disputed me. In other words, said I was lying. Then, much later, a nice intelligent woman whom I respected indirectly called me a liar and I have never been able to forgive her. An attorney friend had given me his home phone number in connection with our mutual participation in public access. I lost the number and needed to reach him, so I contacted a mutual friend requesting his number, explaining that he’d given it to me but I had lost it, and she refused. That was calling me a liar, too. This was about 20 years ago and I haven’t re-friended her–though I doubt she’s missed me.