(This is a writing exercise for me for the last day of 2010 and the week of my birthday and of a decade...and yes, I'm calling this the end. It's every Reverb10 post I missed and all the truth I can handle right now rolled into one. I'm so glad it's over. I'm so grateful for the chance to mark this time I can't see straight. Happy new year to anyone whose eyes reach this page.)
"Starless night, come fall around me
Over all we've left undone
I know a light that shines forever
Howsoever we may run."
~ "Reservoir", Hem
When I finally realized I had no interest in forgiving you it freed me up to consider why I should.
I haven't been able to do it for a long time, it turns out, even though now I have to really work to see your face in my mind. I think that everything was just too much when it hit and kept hitting, the list of grievances too long, the memories too persistent and sad. I'm also as oddly ambivalent about forgiveness as I am any apology that is less than spontaneous and independently given, which may or may not be a result of being raised to believe I needed to talk to God about it, channeling my redemption through another human being who would close the screen and send me to an altar, assign me a certain number of prayers and call it even.
I don't know. I'm still oddly, ritually Catholic in that part of my mind, as distant from any practice as I am. And anyway, what I can say I believe for sure is that I don't know if I can believe someone's really let go of anything, even if they say they have. I don't know who should. I think some things are, actually, unforgiveable in a way.
And for a long time, I didn't know I was going to have to. We couldn't or just didn't stop talking long enough for me to figure out that you were gone. And when we finally did stop -- when my grandmother died and I learned what real, bottomless loss and grief were -- I had nowhere to put the rage it turned out I'd been hiding under instant messages and inane e-mails since the day in January when you walked away from me and invalidated everything I'd imagined we were.
This was, of course, the problem. Suppositions in matters of the heart are a tragedy in waiting, a sad fact for situations so prone to them, unfortunately. They don't work in the worst, most consequential part, which is to say the longest run.
You have to ask the questions with potentially dreadful spirit-shattering answers early, just in case those answers make you turn this car around eventually. That's what I learned from this. You have to split hairs and clarify semantics. Because if you don't you'll end up on the phone with a grown man's mother, a week before he's going to leave your ass and your city and all your stupid, fragile dreams, and she'll ask you about what kind of socks you think will be best because it gets really cold where he's going and isn't this so exciting for him? Or maybe you just end up sitting in a Dairy Queen parking lot with your head on the steering wheel, mumbling it's fine that you're checking the classifieds in another city, honey. It's fine, really. BUT WHEN WERE YOU GOING TO TELL ME?
When I took my head out of my ass and finally let the anger out, I'd carried it around for several years, and not like a baby, as a therapist suggested once. It was more like a hand grenade, honestly -- a live hand grenade baby in my purse, I guess. For God's sake no one jostle that thing.
Honestly it was partially my fault, or the involuntary fault of my deluded little brain anyway. I had one thing (one thing only) in mind when you walked down those stairs and away, theatrically crying like it wasn't your idea. One sinister subconscious plan all the times we talked in the just-friends zone for years after. One thing when I went to your adopted city and stared at statues of men on bronze horses and walked in other peoples' footsteps painted on the concrete, anything but free myself. All along I really believed and claimed that I was there to close a door when really, no. That wasn't why I was there at all. I was holding that door open with my shoulder and my knee, juggling grocery bags of delusion and crazy and not-so-shatterproof hope.
I had a brain full of incantations and silent pleas.
I had given you that red-string Chinese bracelet, so naturally that connected us, even though neither of us knew the Kabbalah from a hole in the ground and neither were we Chinese.
I was a complete and well-rounded, hyper-educated idiot of a disaster area.
Because the truth is that I was waiting for you to come home. I was believing stupidly against all clear evidence that you would finish this part of your dream and come back, because you had to, because the construct and all that was right with the world (my world) demanded it. And what I was doing that whole sad time was spread-eagling on the train tracks while whistles blew and hobos scattered and, deaf and blind fool I was, I got run over time and time again. And then like the crazy clown punching doll my grandmother had for us to kick around when we were little, I'd pop up again to hope another day.
At least I'm resilient. Stupid, maybe, but the resilient kind of stupid that people make reality shows about sometimes and pat on the head. I may have survived on the Mayflower, not to insult the pilgrims.
And even though I don't want to, because I honestly don't like you, and I hate everything you did and have reached a calm, bizarre ambivalence about your existence on this planet wherever you may be, I need to forgive you for letting me do all of that.
I need to forgive you for asking me to help you long after you should have, for pinging me with links and words of the day and stupid jokes, resumes to edit and songs to listen to and scary questions in the middle of the night.
I need to forgive you for not respecting the power you had to break my heart, over and over again, for not ending all communication as soon as you knew that with me was not where you wanted to be for the long haul.
I need to forgive you for continuing to look into pitiful eyes like mine looked at you and keeping that poor dumb soul hoping. I still don't know how you could do it, honestly, but I need to forgive you for it.
I need to forgive you for telling me that I was the one who was broken, the one with the problem, who loved too hard and gave too much, that it was always my choice to come back so it must have been okay by me and the consequences? They were what they were. Because you had told me. You had told me.
I need to forgive you because even though it's long since gone and my life is pretty good, I know for a fact that I carry the garbage you dumped on my heart with me daily, and with it I've crafted a plastic bag eggshell shrine to my own failure to love, to connect, to be enough.
Because if I couldn't make it with you? I couldn't do that with anyone. But really it's that I just never wanted to.
And even now that I can mildly envision opening up again, sadly I still believe that. I have not turned that corner, in spite of hope and work and positive self-talk, in spite of the good words of my friends and the deaths of people who meant more to me than you ever possibly could have.
I need to forgive you, most of all, for going on about what great friend we were and trashing me like no true friend ever could. For the part you played in wasting my very limited and entirely precious time, for being my one truest, saddest regret, and for taking advantage of my love given with a clear and well-intentioned heart until it got twisted by fear and rejection, because no one, I have since learned, should do that to anyone, for any reason.
They should walk away immediately, is what they should do. They should have the courage to set the other person free.
And while this might seem strange and untimely, it is entirely punctual and necessary for the person I am being and becoming. And it's essential for these words to live in a space where I spent two years anonymously talking to you, until you stopped reading and went on with things, finally allowing me to do so too. Two years later, I'm finally ready, on my own schedule, on my own dime. And I believe somehow that if I send this wish on the wind on the last day of what was in some ways the most disappointing year of a decade consumed by loving, losing and recovering from you, I'll have done the part that I needed to do a long time ago.
I honestly, finally believe that I can finally offer it up, that I can finally -- in my heart, where it matters, whether I should have done it years ago or never -- forgive. For me.
This accidentally turned into Day Three.
Following are the writing prompts for 30 Days of Truth, should you be interested in doing so yourself.
Day 01 → Something you hate about yourself.
Day 02 → Something you love about yourself.
Day 03 → Something you have to forgive yourself for.
Day 04 → Something you have to forgive someone for.
Day 05 → Something you hope to do in your life.
Day 06 → Something you hope you never have to do.
Day 07 → Someone who has made your life worth living for.
Day 08 → Someone who made your life hell, or treated you like shit.
Day 09 → Someone you didn’t want to let go, but just drifted.
Day 10 → Someone you need to let go, or wish you didn’t know.
Day 11 → Something people seem to compliment you the most on.
Day 12 → Something you never get compliments on.
Day 13 → A band or artist that has gotten you through some tough ass days. (write a letter.)
Day 14 → A hero that has let you down. (letter)
Day 15 → Something or someone you couldn’t live without, because you’ve tried living without it.
Day 16 → Someone or something you definitely could live without.
Day 17 → A book you’ve read that changed your views on something.
Day 18 → Your views on gay marriage.
Day 19 → What do you think of religion? Or what do you think of politics?
Day 20 → Your views on drugs and alcohol.
Day 21 → (scenario) Your best friend is in a car accident and you two got into a fight an hour before. What do you do?
Day 22 → Something you wish you hadn’t done in your life.
Day 23 → Something you wish you had done in your life.
Day 24 → Make a playlist to someone, and explain why you chose all the songs. (Just post the titles and artists and letter)
Day 25 → The reason you believe you’re still alive today.
Day 26 → Have you ever thought about giving up on life? If so, when and why?
Day 27 → What’s the best thing going for you right now?
Day 28 → What if you were pregnant or got someone pregnant, what would you do?
Day 29 → Something you hope to change about yourself. And why.
Day 30 → A letter to yourself, tell yourself EVERYTHING you love about yourself