Forgiveness is a tricky thing.
About once a year, one of my douchey ex-boyfriends contacts me via facebook and wants to be internet friends. So, about once a year, I go on a little rant about HOW IS IT EVEN POSSIBLE THAT SOMEBODY SO DOUCHEY COULD BELIEVE THAT I WOULD EVER WANT TO BE FACEBOOK BUDDIES?
I think it has to do with how we get older and learn to "forgive." We say, as a young person, I carried around so much anger at my father, but now that I'm grown, I've learned to forgive him, for me, not for him.
But what does that really mean?
That kind of "forgiveness" isn't so much about saying, "I forgive you," as it is saying, "I am willing to stop vilifying you in my mind and allowing my outrage over your villainy to affect me."
It doesn't have anything to do with you not being a villain, it has everything to do with the fact that I don't need a villain in my life. I don't need somebody to blame, anymore. I don't need somebody to be angry at. I'm not afraid of the truth about me, that I'm just a little, tiny person who thought she wasn't good enough. I am not in so low a place that it benefits me to say, "Yes, I am inferior, but HE did this to me and HE did this to me." I am not so ashamed of myself that I need somebody to be angry at, to justify who I am.
That's how I forgive you.
Something else is, at the time of this unbelievable negative and failing relationship, I was convinced that he was doing SO MUCH STUFF to damage me and hurt me. I see now that he was TOTALLY doing a TON of disgusting, unforgivable, harmful, mean and dirty stuff, but that none of the hurt he inflicted on me was original. His role in my life wasn't original. He was just the way I was manifesting my glitches.
My father hated me. Everything he did, all of our interactions were meant to show me that I wasn't as smart as I thought I was. He resented me, belittled me, competed with me. He spanked me, bullied me with religion, infused me with anger and fear.
I used to not blame them, because I hated myself. I used to think, "Of course they were mean to me. Look at me."
But, really. I was just a kid. They weren't crushing me; they were crushing a little kid with big brown eyes and chubby cheeks. They were crushing a little girl. Embarrassing her. Making her afraid and ashamed. Now that I have my own children, I see their parenting for what it was. Hopelessly and fiercely flawed. Soul crushing and hobbling. The fact that my dad didn't love me was my original damage.
All of the stupid pageantry of that "relationship" with that douche... that was all just me acting out on my original hurts. That was me not knowing that my childhood wasn't normal. It was me not understanding that what my daddy told me wasn't the truth about who I was.
I'm not mad at any of them, anymore, though. I think that sometimes people call what I'm doing "forgiveness." It's true that I don't feel upset, anymore. I don't feel like I want to punch anybody in the face anymore. Instead of saying, "I forgive you because I see that what you did wasn't that bad," I am doing this:
I am letting go of my anger towards you because you really are THAT DISGUSTING, and I don't need a disgusting thing to cling to anymore, to make excuses for myself, to help define me.
I have a family, two daughters that are so important and beautiful they are like the ocean, I am propelled across a blue space of gratitude, pushed and pulled on their tides, tumbled about and made new. Every day. They're THAT GOOD.
My husband is the most admirable and impressive person that has ever existed. He holds me by my ankles, keeps my hair from catching fire, keeps me from brushing too close to oblivion. His body is where I rest. He has hands that are warm and steady and calm. He has seen me through a puddle of blood and urine on the floor of a hospital bathroom. I was shaking and vomiting from the pain. Our baby girl slept in the doorway. He has SEEN ME.
What use do I have for being angry because you were mean and you were thoughtless and you were harmful and you were selfish? Why would I turn my back, even for a second on all that light, to pay attention to the rags of embarrassment you tied to me?
I can say that when I think about you, I don't feel like I used to. I don't feel sad and scared and hurt and wild with anger. I don't feel outraged. I don't feel like I wasn't worth the truth.
That doesn't mean that I don't still believe that you were wrong. I still define you and your role in my life with those same negative adjectives.
I just don't let them define me.
That's what I mean when I say I forgive you.
I asked my husband, "Then what is stopping us from passing our dysfunction on to our kids? How are we able to not hurt them when people hurt their kids all the time because they were hurt, in the first place?"
And he said, "Because sometimes people just are. If they are smart enough and self-aware enough and love their kids enough, they just don't."
I believe him.
My babies are still young, but they are my priority. People love to talk about how annoying and challenging and exhausting their kids are, and mine are, too. But, my priority is to love them, and let that love color and bond with every other aspect of my life. My only job in this world is to make sure that my frustrations and embarrassments, my feelings of failure and my dark past, don't ever come close to touching them.
I will do whatever I need to in private, furiously writing, locking up all my shutters against the wind. I will be hard at work CONSTANTLY, telling myself the truth, living in a way where darkness can't collect in my corners, admitting who I am and where I've been, working through, working through, so that I am the best thing I can be.
Just for them.
I will not be passive towards the pejorative messages I've been given about myself. I will not be lazy in making my choices. I will not let one of those, "You're worthless, you weren't worth my kindness or my honesty or my care," messages slip in and inform the way I treat people, or treat myself.
Just for them, you're a piece of shit, and I forgive you.