September 14, 2022

Taking My Punishment

Image by Edward Lich from Pixabay 

As a child who was wrongfully accused and convicted of a number of household crimes—from scratching my mother's wooden rocking chair and new bathroom wallpaper to pitting the cover of a borrowed paperback book on the kitchen counter—I learned early on how to shut up and take my punishments.

There was no arguing with my parents, no defending myself. They said they expected me to plead my innocence, but I didn't see the point in it. There would be no fair trial. After all, they'd given me nicknames like "the evil twin," "the bad seed," and "the devil child."

There would be no convincing them otherwise. 

But I've found that ability to take a beating—both physically and emotionally—to extend into my adult years. Even when it's not necessarily the best thing to do. 

In traffic court recently, I took the plea for a reduced sentence (no points on my license and no traffic school) even though there were extenuating circumstances that led me to not stopping before turning right on red. 

I'd just spotted a homeless person standing over a refuse fire on the shoulder of the freeway off-ramp and was rushing to call 911. 

I knew I'd broken the law. I knew they had video evidence of it. But it felt as though my only real crime had been being a good citizen to report the fire. 

No good deed goes unpunished, indeed,

Because I couldn't get the bench officer to dismiss the charge during my arraignment, I took the deal—not wanting to drag it out in court. 

I paid my fine. I took my punishment, and hoped I could chalk it up to good karma.

But it doesn't stop there. 

Even when I'm in pain—which is a lot, as someone who's had fibromyalgia for 30 years—my first recourse isn't to take meds to make it go away. I suffer through it. 

Sure, it feels like punishment. But in life, I often feel like I'm being punished—punished for something I haven't done. 

Just like when I was a kid.

At least with the physical stuff I'm dealing with now, there are pills to take. But they come with their own punishments (usually in the form of upset stomach, heartburn, drowsiness, brain fog, and so on).

It's just moving the suffering around. It doesn't actually make it go away. 

Maybe suffering is like matter itself. It can neither be created nor destroyed.

It just is.

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