Troubled teen can't seem to forgive
Dear Amy: Fifteen years ago, when I was 16, I stalked one of my teachers. While I never made any threats against them (I loved them), I did everything I could to be close, including joining clubs they moderated, offering gifts, casually going on walks past their house (we lived in the same neighborhood) and even showing up at the grocery store when I knew they would be shopping.
While the teacher was generally calm and kind toward me, I was referred to the guidance counselor and my teacher passively told me our time spent together could get them into trouble.
None of this sank in, and I kept pushing to be closer. I wanted nothing more than to be a member of their family and receive unconditional love.
Needless to say, this ended very poorly. The teacher sent me a letter to never contact them again upon graduation.
I've run into this teacher a handful of times over the years, and we have had very cold interactions.
I grew up with an abusive mother who was very unpredictable. She went between smothering behavior and neglect. After years of therapy, I now know I suffer from an attachment disorder. I have been working hard to overcome it.
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The problem is I cannot forgive myself. I feel like a sick, disgusting, crazy person and feel awful for the discomfort and possible fear I inflicted on my teacher.
The teacher has moved on and has done wonderful things. I have too, but there is always this underlying feeling that my past will be relived and my entire life will fall apart. How can I learn to forgive myself and move on?
Dear Reformed: We all need to forgive ourselves, for a variety of reasons, because every human being fails and flails in large and small ways. You should start by assuming that your former teacher forgives you.