Right Foot Forward and Leaving What’s Left

Step forward, right into the future, without tripping. No need to hold on to what was. No need to look back. Just let go and move on.

Right Foot Forward

While reading the book Spiritual Literacy by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, I came upon a passage about the physical body that ascribed the right side of our bodies to represent the future, and the left side, the past. The fact had not escaped me that all of my physical ailments seem to happen on the right side: breaks, strains, bruises, and cuts.

Most recently: a torn hamstring, plantar fasciitis, and a hurt knee.

I had heard of the right side representing masculinity, and therefore the left side is feminine. And so I had chalked my injuries up to unresolved father issues a long time ago. I knew I had stuff to get over. Never had I considered that the right side is my future and the left my past. So my physical therapist, when he told me this summer that I tended to put all of my weight on my left, really meant that I put all of my weight in the past.

After I read that passage, I thought about that morning as I was in my getting-ready routine.

A childhood memory had flooded back to me.

It is a bad memory that returns frequently: we were poor, and I saved my hard-earned babysitting money to buy shampoo and makeup. My younger sister regularly stole these things from me, often using them up and leaving me none at all.

‘So?’

I can still hear her sneering,

‘I don’t care. That’s your problem.’

She did this for years all through our teens.

I hated her.

I thought and rethought about how I still hate her for that, some forty years later. For that and all her other thefts and wrongs against me. Even though the person she has become today is someone entirely different. Someone I even love, if occasionally struggle with. She is two different people, and I despise who she was. And then it hit me: she was a child. She did not know better. She was not disciplined.

Right Foot Forward and Leaving What’s Left

Well, my Ego-mind went right to blaming someone else, which is what we do, right? I thought then about how I could hate my parents for not disciplining her. For not disciplining either one of us. For not caring at all. And then I thought about my parents’ marriage and how my mother’s life was falling apart at the time. Survival was my mother’s only goal. And then I remembered that I have been in that place too.

I can’t hate her.

Yes, my sister was horrid. Yes, I didn’t feel too loved growing up. These things scared me emotionally in the same way that the neighborhood kids dunking me in the pool made me hate swimming.

You can forgive, but you don’t forget.

Events do change us, sometimes for good, sometimes for the worse. The thing is, when we hurt, we want to hurt back. It’s wired into us at the reptilian level, a survival mechanism, I presume. But what good does it do?

How does hurting someone back fix anything at all?

I realize now that if a part of my body gives me trouble, on the right side or the left, I don’t attack it.

It would make no sense to shoot off my foot because it hurts me.

I am one, and we are one. And the fact is, my family is a part of me and made me who I am, and I like that person today.

And what do you know?

Today I can afford all the shampoo and makeup I want. Perhaps this will take some weight off of the past. That left needs to be left behind. Perhaps this will help me to step forward, right into the future, without tripping.

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Julia Gordon-Bramer

Julia Gordon-Bramer is the author of Fixed Stars Govern a Life: Decoding Sylvia Plath (2014, Stephen F. Austin State University Press), and the Decoding Sylvia Plath series on Magi Press. She is a professional tarot card reader, a scholar of Sylvia Plath, and eternal student of life. For more information visit: www.juliagordonbramer.com

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