(This is the fourth segment of a five-part narration of how committing plagiarism led me to heal a wound stemming back to my high school days. A recent plagiarism controversy involving Philippines Senator Tito Sotto and American blogger Sarah Pope reminded me of a similar offense that I committed while attending graduate school. Committing plagiarism needed to happen in order for me to heal a long-standing, 30-year old wound.)
As a 16-year-old, having been kicked out of the honor section and receiving a “D” in conduct during the final grading period of my senior year, I made this decision and came up with this conclusion:
I am a failure and I am not good enough.
I then spent the next 30 years of my life proving myself and correcting my “mistake”. I had been showing those who have wronged me that they made a mistake in their “mistreatment” of me. I had been correcting my tainted image. All of these were of course, unconsciously done.
After I started my healing journey in 1998, I became aware that this was one of the incidents that led to my perfectionism and rigidity. And I have been doing my best to address this issue.
I had already forgiven the people involved in my humiliating high school experience. I have actually been thankful for what happened. Having been kicked out of the honor section, being in unfamiliar territory, and finding myself in the company of new faces, has in fact turned out to be one of my blessings.
It taught me to be more balanced. I had a wider spectrum of friendships that I developed which widened my perspective and outlook later in life. It deepened my capacity for understanding and compassion.
During a high school reunion, I was so glad to find out that the school had already revised the sectioning system and removed the concept of an honor section. Imagine the discrimination, unnecessary and unhealthy competition, and widening gap amongst students, ironically, instead of honoring where every student is and providing a more supportive and empowering learning environment.
A conversation with a school mate also gave me some relief. She was consistently in the honor section and disclosed to me that she actually wasn’t very happy and comfortable being in that section. She felt so out-of-place. She felt that the students there were too intellectual and didn’t have their feet planted on the ground. She’d much rather hang out with those from the non-honor sections. It was such a relief to hear that I wasn’t alone in my sentiments. It was reassuring to know that I wasn’t just being resentful about having been kicked out of the honor section. I had valid reasons. I had a basis for my observations which were seconded by someone belonging to that particular group.
Yet with this plagiarism incident though, I realized that while I had already forgiven other people, there was someone else, someone so much more important whom I had not forgiven — myself. I still had not forgiven myself for something that took place 30 years prior. I had been very hard on myself and still continued proving myself to other people.
I also realized that I was still seeking the approval of Mom and Dad, through the program director and our instructor. I was so disappointed at myself because once again, I let down these two people. It was like once again, I disappointed Mom and Dad.
Yet what I’m truly grateful for is the love and support that I received from the program director and instructor. They gave me the chance to correct my research paper. Not only that, I was given until the end of the following quarter to submit it together with a reflection paper.
Even without me asking for it, the understanding, support, generosity, and the love that was shown and extended to me, not only more than made up for what I felt I didn’t receive 30 years prior. It helped me make a new decision about how I look at myself after having committed such an offense. It helped me affirm and validate myself that,
I am lovable, worthy and good enough — even after having made a mistake.
No matter what, I do not need other people’s approval for who I am, who I am becoming, and who I will be.
I approve myself. I affirm and validate myself. I am worthy.
I am lovable no matter what. I am good enough. I am enough.
I am not the only one guilty of plagiarism
What also helped usher in the way for my healing is the support extended by our professor. It hastened my healing.
Much to my surprise, and not coincidentally, he admitted that he himself made a similar mistake. And it was even worse than what I committed. That left me in so much awe.
Who would have thought that my own professor would have gone through a similar experience? More surprisingly, who would have thought that he would even admit that to his student?
What made my healing process even more powerful was when he offered to channel the healing energy for both of us. He emphasized the importance of forgiveness in order for healing to occur. That reminded me about how abundant and supportive the Universe always is. We only need to pay attention, acknowledge and receive the gifts when the opportunities present themselves.
Revisiting the 30-year-old wound
I worked on forgiving myself, both for the more recent plagiarism offense and what I committed 30 years. I then had the opportunity to revisit and heal that long-standing and much repressed 30-year-old wound.
I talked to my Mom and asked her to help me heal from my high school wounding. It gave me the chance to have a dialogue with her. It was a conversation that didn’t take place 30 years prior. Much as I also wanted to have a similar conversation with my father, it wasn’t possible at the time. My parents had been separated for a very long time and we had no communication with him. (It was his choice and my father’s abandonment is a whole separate chapter altogether.)
My Mom and I revisited 1978. I asked her to talk to me as if I was 16 years old again because the adolescent Nadine needed to hear what was not told her at the time. I gave my Mom the opportunity to express what she wasn’t able to only because she didn’t know any better.
It wasn’t easy for my Mom. Expressing her feelings wasn’t something she was ever comfortable with or very good at. It felt awkward.
I really didn’t get exactly what I wanted and what I preferred but I’m not taking it against my Mom. She simply didn’t have the tools and the capability to bring about the kind of healing that I wanted and needed. I had realized though that my own healing is not dependent on the other.
I can heal and forgive myself with or without the other concerned party’s participation.
To be concluded
References and related articles:
Ribaya, R. (2012). Blogger: Sotto a ‘lying thief’; solon’s staff admits shortcoming. Retrieved August 20, 2012 from Yahoo! News Philippines website: http://ph.news.yahoo.com/blogger–sotto-a–lying-thief—solon-s-staff-admits-shortcoming.html
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