Addendum: 20 June 07 ~ This morning has been a rough one here.. with me coming to the distinct knowledge that my spirit has been screaming at me, trying to get my attention through a variety of means. Those spirit swats included some misinterpretations, me jumping to conclusions about a perceived slight, a Cassandra call to someone I care about very much, and an assortment of things with different people that finally, a few minutes ago, knocked me to my knees. One of the conclusions I've reached.. and am certain about.. is that this is the last post I will make on this topic. It's too private and too personal. In many ways, simply too painful. On some level, I've recognized that this exceeds my blogging boundaries which is causing me to feel too exposed, too raw, hence the hypersensitivity. (The Cassandra call stands.. you know who you are. No correlation or connection to this comment.) But I'm done with this topic, this turning it over and publicly fondling it, trying to excise some value from it for others. In a very firm and solid way, I know that. This topic will not be raised on this site again. Yeah. Maybe that is what forgiveness really is.. that quiet knowledge that something needs to be put firmly behind us, knowledge that from here on, we move forward with as much integrity and honor as we can muster up.. even when that means the risks are higher than remaining stuck.
One more thing: I would appreciate very much if people coming by would say something. Somehow, the idea of writing these things and having them read without comment gives me the creeps. I'm not asking for a dissertation.. but just an acknowledgment would feel very good!
I know it would be easier to just delete this post and forget about it.. but I did make a commitment to not do that.
This post is about forgiving the past... and how we come to that.
It's a real challenge for me to not slip into the global. That's how I've always handled things. Stick to cultures and politics, big issues. That way, I don't have to deal with my own shit.
By now anyone who has been reading here for very long knows where I grew up. By now, most everyone knows enough about my family to know that when I was on the Other Side choosing them, I didn't choose well.
As for where I grew up, that was an issue of shame for a long time. I used to lie about it. All the time.
"Where did you grow up?"
"Where in Los Angeles?"
Most people probably thought I was ashamed... and I was.
Not because of the wealth. I was ashamed because it was so hard to allow anyone a glimpse into my life. They would see that I was little more than a well-dressed feral child. They would see all the ugliness that was hidden in the threshold. They would see all the open, festering wounds we carried. They bled and seeped through the fabric of our clothes. Still, we all lied about them. How does one explain about a family so fractured that we barely knew each other? How does one explain that while we were surrounded with all the things that were supposed to make us happy, we were all miserable? We were in a gilded ghetto.
How could I possibly explain that? To anyone? Who would understand it and who would care?
Yes. I was bitter. For a lot of years.
I wanted so badly to belong to a family that cared, that mattered to each other, that didn't wear the emotional equivalent of thick insulated hazmat suits to keep each other away, who would offer comfort when we were upset or share in our joys. It was so. goddam. lonely! Our address just made it somehow even more insulting and hurtful.
... Because no one believed me.
I had it all, after all. My complaining about anything made me a spoiled brat who didn't appreciate how much I had in the world. I might as well have been one of the Menendez Brothers.
So it left me very isolated and alone. We were forced to paint a smile on our faces every day and hide the pain. The first time I seriously considered suicide was at nine years old. I remember believing that the reason why I had no friends and was so alone was certainly because I was such a horrid person that I deserved no better.
When I think back on it now, I'm surprised that I'm no longer angry. Not angry.. but I don't trust. I don't trust very much at all. I don't relax. Not really. Not very often.
The gift that keeps on giving.
There are times when I struggle with how my forgiveness will ultimately manifest. Forgiveness doesn't necessarily mean that everything is okay now. We still carry our damage. I'm not there entirely. Not yet. This is a lifetime job.
Intellectually, I realize that my family would have been fractured if we'd lived anywhere. We were fractured because no one had the skills to make it otherwise. Every minor problem was magnified and was just cause for abandonment. I am as guilty of as much of it as they are. My first instinct when something goes wrong in a relationship is to bail. Outta here. Dust.
Intellectually, I understand that circumstances are rarely the cause of anything. Our reactions are the cause.
Intellectually, I understand that we are all flawed human beings who make mistakes. No one is perfect, least of all me, and the only way to survive this life experience is to be flexible and forgiving of everyone's flaws, including my own.
"Let he who is without sin...."
That is the first step for me. As for regretting what I didn't have, yeah, there's still a little bit of that. Every now and then. When I come face-to-face with the level of damage in my life, it could make me very, very angry. But I don't want to live in that anger. God knows, I don't want to end up like my father, laying in a cold den with a bullet in my head.
I don't choose that. Even when it's so hard I can barely put one foot in front of the other, I don't choose that. Not even when I want to shake my fist at the heavens and ask "WHY?", I don't choose that.
I choose instead to cull all I can out of this experience. I choose instead to overcome it, at least to a degree that will allow me to relax into my relationships, to trust they'll be here tomorrow.. and the next day.. and to trust that others truly mean me no harm.
We are all just flawed. That's all.
And maybe that is forgiveness. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.