The life I live now is truly sweet. There are things that I have to manage every day and there are relationships that are a practice in patience and understanding. I wouldn't mind more money in my bank account, but that's not going to derail my joy. I continue to fix broken patterns in my life, releasing the things that do not serve me or my family, and I practice daily the art of appreciating the beauty all around me. It might sound hokey or disingenuous, but I truly am thankful for all that I have and I feel peaceful about who and where I am today.
But every now and then, I get hit upside the head by feelings that I thought I had already worked through. I used to be filled with a lot of anger at certain people, circumstances, and the randomness of the universe. For years, I went to groups and therapy to erase a lot of the anger and resentment I had towards the people who had harmed me in my youth and early adult years. The human spirit is resilient, thank God, and I have learned to appreciate the lessons and honor the scars and, for the most part, I have let it all go.
Still, there's that one person that pops up every now and again, nagging at me that I still have some work to do. He's always been there... ever present. I can go for months without even remembering that he exists, but then something will come up that will trigger a memory and I'll have to deal with my feelings about him. It's not that I'm pining for this person. Trust me. Not. At. All. So why does he still have any kind of place in the dark corners of my head? I think I finally figured out why. He has never apologized for all the hurt he caused me and the scars that took so long to heal.
He never said, "I'm sorry."
If we weren't still somehow connected in life, I think I would have released this need for a simple apology a long time ago. But his past actions and my reactions echo to this day and are presently affecting a part of my life over which I have no control. I'm dealing with it well enough... accepting the journey, hoping for a miracle... but it's still a hole in my life. That hole was partially dug by me, but there was a lot of digging (and burying) done by him.
Pointing and blaming don't help to heal. But an apology might.
What's the likelihood of getting an apology from this person? I think I'd win the lottery before that would ever happened. So the letting go is the work. And that is work that only I can do. Forgiving him, yet again, is the only way to do that. I thought I had, but this particular relationship calls for regular forgiveness therapy.
Last night, I was listening to Dear Sugar with Cheryl Strayed (did you know they were back, now in podcast form?). They read a letter by a young lady who had really been worked over by a complete misogynist. The things she said he said... horrible. He nitpicked her weight, what she wore, her mannerisms... everything. It's easy to say "Break up with him." It's harder to do when you've got deserve issues.
This letter reminded me so much of this person. They commented about how lucky the young lady was to get away from him before marriage and children entered. My heart saddened for my twenty-year-younger self for not being so lucky. They went on to validated this woman's feelings and, in a way, I felt validated, too. But it was something they said in another episode that stuck with me regarding this particular forgiveness block.
"Love with a deep generosity of spirit."
They went on to say that we have to love the people that made the people we love. Read that again. Let it sink in. Love the people who we don't want to love. If it suits your psyche better, exchange the word love with bless. We need to be able to bless the people that loved our lovers first. To bless the people that bullied our kids' bullies. To bless the people that hurt the ones who hurt us.
I'm a person who struggles with codependency, so I have to be very aware of my thoughts when it comes to empathizing with an aggressor or excusing someone's hurtful behavior. The fine line is to allow myself to understand how someone's personal histories can affect their behavior without taking responsibility for what they've done to me. It's a lot harder than it sounds.
But after some meditation on this little nugget, "Love with a deep generosity of spirit," I think I might have found a good way to deal with this past relationship when the words and pictures pop into my head and send me into a shame spiral. I need to practice forgiveness as soon as those memories flash and derail my day... because I know they will.
I love the woman I see when I look in the mirror. I love her humor. I love her wit. I love that she gets confused about the fine lines on her face because she thinks she's still somewhere in her early 30's. I love that she's started to chill out about stuff. I love that she still gets heated about other stuff. I love that she still yearns for adventure. I love that she has a story lurking just beneath the surface at all times.
And if I truly love this woman in the mirror, I must bless the people who made her who she is, including the people that have not apologized for their behavior toward her. This person who magnanimously accepted my apologies will, in all likelihood, never return the sentiment, but I must bless him for his part in forming the person who stands in my shoes today. I don't have to love the surprise attack of memories that invade my peace... the sting of his words or the blow of his fist... to bless him for strengthening my resilience. I don't have to take on any of the blame or shame that I once felt to send love to the people who hurt him. I don't have to hear "I'm sorry" to let go.
I just have to love with a deep generosity of spirit... bless that person for his role in my life... honor the impact he had in forming who I am today... and get back to the sweet life that is right here in front of me.