forgiveness

Exit 219. I don’t know how to let go.

I’m not well.  Not mentally and emotionally, at least.

I don’t want to talk about it.  But I realized yesterday, as everything was falling apart, that there is something deeper going on that what appeared to be happening on the surface.

I don’t know how to let go.  I don’t know how to forgive.  I don’t know how to move on.  I’ve been carrying around decades of burdens and rejection and hurt, and I just don’t know how to move on.

I think about things that I was successfully able to move on from, to try to figure out what to do about this.  And it turns out that it might not have been so successful after all.  Sometimes forgiveness happens because whoever or whatever I’m mad at apologizes or makes an effort to make things right.  But I can’t control that.  I can’t control other people.  And sometimes it looks like I’m able to forgive someone on the surface, but then their true colors show again later, and years pass and I’m still angry and carrying it around.  Or sometimes I just manage to distract and numb myself for long enough that the anger I’m carrying around doesn’t affect my ability to be a functioning adult… most of the time, until something happens like the last few days, and something that is truly insignificant in the long run triggers an avalanche of anger.

I just don’t know what to do with this.  I can stay away from certain people or places where I am likely to get upset, but that’s just a Band-Aid.  I’m scared.  I hope I haven’t done any permanent damage to myself, my friendships, or my career.  Fortunately, I see my therapist this week.  That’s a start, I guess.

Exit 106. It’s only holding you back.

During the course of my life, I seem to find myself getting rejected by women, in both platonic and romantic situations, in progressively more unbelievable and outlandish ways.  Whenever I think I’ve been rejected in a particularly shocking way, a few months later someone comes along and rejects me in an even worse manner.  By the way, I’m not being sexist here.  I’m sure that other combinations of genders have just as many outrageous rejection stories.

The other day, I was having a conversation on Facebook with a close female friend, regarding a guy she likes, and whether or not it would work.  I said, attempting to be snarky, “Well hopefully he won’t do this,” and then proceeded to describe a scenario in which he behaves toward her in the same hurtful way that a former love interest once behaved toward me.  My friend knew exactly what I was trying to do; she replied, “Did you just put me into one of your past situations again?”  I said yes, of course.  She replied, “You’ve got to stop doing that.  It’s only holding you back.”

She’s right.  It’s a harsh truth to hear, but she’s right.

Why is it so hard for me to let go of past hurts?  I think it comes down to the lack of justice.  The people who have treated me wrong (men, women, friends, love interests, acquaintances, strangers, everyone in general) get to move on with their perfect happy little lives, leaving me bruised and wounded, lying on the side of the road like a piece of trash.  What they did was wrong, and it’s not fair that they can get away with it.  I know this is a vastly oversimplified perspective, but on the gut reaction level, it feels like I’m doing everything right, and I’m miserable, whereas those who do everything wrong reap all the rewards of life.  I told something like this to someone else recently, not the same friend I mentioned above, and she pointed out that those people who do everything wrong probably aren’t as happy as I think they are.  I just don’t see the consequences of their decisions.  However, even if I did, that would not change the fact that I’m miserable.

Life isn’t fair.  Some people are jerks.  And there is nothing I can do to change that.  If I am going to interact with other human beings in any way, I am going to leave myself vulnerable to being hurt.  There are times when I have seriously questioned if it was worth it, or if I should just go become a hermit and live in a cabin in the forest.  But I don’t think that is the best solution either.  I just have to find a way to let go, a way to stop allowing these past hurts to continue to destroy me from within.  Everyone walks a different path, and it is up to God to deal with those who, from my limited human perspective, appear to be rewarded for doing everything wrong.  And it isn’t like I’m claiming to be perfect either.  I’ve made plenty of mistakes in the past, even if they aren’t the same kind of mistakes as the others in my circle.

It will take a lot of hard work to change almost forty years of this kind of thinking.  A big part of it will involve prayer and Scripture.  I will need to place myself in more positive situations.  I may have to have some difficult conversations with people still in my life who have hurt me, and I may have to cut others out of my life entirely.  There is no one-size-fits-all solution.  All I can do is keep taking steps in the right direction.

Exit 103. Worth the risk.

Short and sweet this week…

Forgiveness really is a beautiful thing.  I’m not always good at it.  It’s not easy for me to let go of things.  I’ve been hurt a lot, and when I am hurt, it is natural to want justice, if not vengeance.  But, not only is this un-Christlike, it also tends to escalate into a never-ending cycle of hatred and negativity.

Forgiveness is also difficult because it leaves me vulnerable, especially when the individual I need to forgive is someone whom it is difficult to avoid crossing paths with on a regular basis.  I don’t want to open myself up to an opportunity to be hurt again by the same individual’s actions or words.

But no matter what, I know that forgiveness is still preferable to holding grudges.  Restoring friendship, with all the risks involved, is worth the risk.

Exit 19. It feels good to be friends again.

The other day, I hung out with my friend Mimosa.  It was really good catching up with her.  She has just recently moved back to the area, we’ve both been through some big changes lately, and it was good getting to sit down and talk about everything–

Wait, you’re probably thinking if you’re a regular reader of this blog.  Did you say “Mimosa?”

Oh… When I want to write here about specific individuals in my life without naming names, I use names of stars, planets, and other astronomical bodies as pseudonyms.  Mimosa is a star in the constellation Crux (the Southern Cross).  This isn’t about the alcoholic drink, or the flower.  I have my reasons for how I match up each person to a pseudonym, and I don’t normally share, but I’ll say that my choice of pseudonym for her has nothing to do with the drink–

Stop.  You’re rambling off topic again.  I know all that.  I’m a regular reader, remember?  You’ve explained the pseudonyms before.  But you can’t call your friend Mimosa.

Why not?

You’ve already used the name Mimosa for someone else.  Mimosa was that girl who you had the brief fling with four years ago, who led you on and then said it was nothing serious, and you were really hurt by that, remember?

Yeah, I know.  Same girl.  That’s who I hung out with the other day.

A week or two after I last mentioned Mimosa on this blog, I saw something on Facebook that suggested that she had moved back to the area, and I also noticed that she mentioned that she was going dancing at one of the same places I go dancing.  She hadn’t been there in a long time.  So I asked her if she was back; she was, but it wasn’t really a good time to talk about everything that was going on.  Dancing wasn’t a good time for it either, because I didn’t want to take away from her dancing time, and that’s the kind of conversation that’s better when you don’t have 200 people and loud music in the same room.  But we said we’d get together and catch up sometime soon.

Then I got hit with a big chunk of work and adult responsibilities, and the actual catching up didn’t happen until about a month later, which was a few days ago.  We mostly just talked for a couple hours, and she used me as a guinea pig for something she had baked, a recipe that was new to her.  (It was very good.)  It’s not my place here to share the details of what we talked about, or what brought her back to the area in the first place.  I’m not writing this to gossip about my friends.  But I will say that we had a very nice time talking about a lot of things.

Like I said previously, when I was speculating on how life would have been different had I not gone to the party in 2010 where I met Mimosa, I know she never meant to hurt me.  What happened was the product of both of us making reckless emotional decisions.  I also said that, had I not been to that party, there was a possibility we would have met anyway, through dancing.  And I wish it had happened that way, because by meeting under circumstances that didn’t lead to a fling, I think we would have gradually become good friends without any of the fling-related awkwardness.  That’s exactly the approach I’ve been taking in the last month since we’ve been in touch again.  Now that she’s back in the area, I feel like I’m ready to put the reckless miscommunications of 2010, and everything that happened after that, in the past so we can be the good friends we could have been, had we met under different circumstances.  And after I hung out with her earlier this week, I’m confident that it’s going to work out like that.  It feels good to be friends again.

Forgiveness and moving on and the like aren’t always easy for me.  They aren’t easy for a lot of people, for that matter.  And there’s a lot to be said for cutting toxic people out of one’s life.  Sometimes it takes me a long time to get over being hurt, and as I work through whatever pain I have felt, sometimes I realize that I am better off distancing myself from the ones who caused the pain.  It doesn’t mean I have to keep carrying around that bitterness with me, and letting go of that bitterness is hard, but sometimes the best course of action is to cut off contact with someone.  If someone has a continuous pattern of being hurtful or putting me in unhealthy situations, I’m better off without them.  Mimosa isn’t one of those people.  Remember, after everything happened in 2010, we were still friends for a year before life and circumstances and my changing status with her friend (euphemism of the year, I know) reduced us just to brief Facebook conversations a couple times a year.

In the days between making concrete plans to hang out with Mimosa and actually doing it, I was a little nervous, partially because I hadn’t seen her in so long, and partially because I was really hoping I wasn’t just 2611ing my way back into a hurtful situation.  And some of my friends who were around in 2010, especially those who don’t know Mimosa personally but remember how hurt I was, might be a little concerned for me, letting someone who did that to me back in my life.  I know I made the right decision.  I hope that if/when my friends meet her, they’ll be nice and not hold all that against her.  Time heals.

A few weeks ago, I said that something I had written recently might have an update or another chapter to it soon.  This is that next chapter, and as I hinted at previously, Darius Rucker was right.  Everything that didn’t work out in life led to this.  And experiences like this bring growth and add to life.  We all have bruises, and bruises make better conversation.  And I’m going to stop typing now before this entire blog becomes me quoting song lyrics.  The whole point here is not to dwell on the past, so I’m not going to keep going on about it.  That’s all I have to say about that.