Have you ever done something that you are ashamed of?

Definately. Two things in particular.

The first was in grade 1. There was a girl in my class who was very shy and didn't have a lot of friends. And for some reason that I can't remember, she was teased by other kids sometimes.

There was a boy in the class, Timmy, who thought it was funny to kiss girls on the cheek when they didn't want to be kissed. I can't fully remember the circumstances, but I do remember that it was recess and the girl was sitting on the ground crying. Maybe she was crying from being teased that day? I'm not sure. But there was a group of kids around her with Timmy there, and the group was chanting, "Kiss her! Kiss her! Kiss her!" to Timmy (I was not one of the children who was chanting). And what did he do? He pushed his way through the group and kissed her on the cheek with tears streaming down her face. I watched as the girl tried to hide her face from him but he was agressive and took her head with his hands to reach her cheek. A teacher came along to break up the commotion and we dispersed. Maybe 15 min later, I noticed that the girl was holding the hand of the teacher who was on recess supervising duty, and they were walking hand in hand in the distance while the other kids were all playing together and having fun. She was holding the hand of the teacher because she didn't have any other kids to play with and she had just been forcefully kissed by a boy in front of a crowd of people who were cheering this boy on. I remember watching the little girl and the teacher and feeling very sad for her.

I am 40 years old now. It was sometime this year when, for whatever reason, the memory of this little girl came to mind while I was driving one day. I could see the memory so vividly and was all of a sudden completely disgusted with myself that I did nothing to stop this boy or help this girl or act friendly toward her afterward. I was so ashamed of this and so emotional that I had to pull over from crying so hard. That evening, I tried to find the girl online. I was pretty sure I remembered her name correctly, and even messaged two women who I thought may be her, asking if they went to my junior middle school. But I was unsuccessful in finding the girl. If I had found her, I would have apologized for not standing up for her and helping her that day.

The other time was in high school. Myself and a group of friends were taking the subway downtown in Toronto. We didn't have a real destination, just headed downtown to hang out and maybe browse through stores. There were 6 of us and at one point we were standing on the subway platform waiting for the train. It was I who looked down toward the tracks when something moving caught my eye. I said, "hey, look - a mouse....and...a wallet" noticing the object right next to the mouse. One of the boys in our group jumped down on to the tracks to get the wallet. He climbed back up and was the first to open it. His eyes widened. He showed us what turned out to be 300$ worth of cash in the wallet. We looked at the drivers license and saw that it belonged to a male, about our own age. Probalby a student like us. Then someone suggested that we take the cash and split it before turning the wallet in. No one objected so we divied up the cash and got 50$ each. I remember someone even justified it by suggesting that whomever we turned it in to would likely keep the cash for themselves anyway. We then turned in the wallet to a transit worker and took the train downtown to an HMV store where we each bought two music CDs with the cash that we stole.

I am incredibly ashamed of both of these stories. Why was I so weak as to not speak up against something that I knew was wrong? Or to stand up for someone who couldn't stand up for themselves in that moment? I would never do this today but sometimes I wonder if the fact that I did this as a child points to my real character. I really hope not though.


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