Don’t think me unkind, words are hard to find, they’re only checks I’ve left unsigned, from the banks of chaos in my mind. When eloquence escapes me . . .
I hate texting. I hate it for so many reasons, not the least of which is the inability to have a real, meaningful, communication with a text. Texting has its place, it’s great for sending a quick message to say “Are you here yet? I’m upstairs.” Other than that, too much room for mishaps and misinterpretations.
That being said . . .
I messed up . . . in a fairly colossal manner. Go big, right? Not really. There was a misunderstanding, I sat around and let myself stew about it, let a few other minor catastrophes affect my personal marinade, and then, here comes the brilliant part, I decided to drink . . . excessively. I am not blaming the alcohol, it was me, all me, no one but me. I take full responsibility, drink or no drink. However, as the night went on, and I turned into a cat like princess, I had not yet taken any amount of responsibility. The next morning, however, ugh. As I went over the previous nights events in my head I slowly began to come around, and with every minute that passed my initial glimmer of “I may have been unreasonable” turned into a blinding comet of utter shock at my atrocious behavior. When I discovered that the whole reason I was upset in the first place (a text message that went unanswered) was not even correct (turns out the message failed and was never sent and, therefore, never received, who knew?) I began the desperate search for the nearest sharp object to plunge into my jugular. Failing the location of said shiv, I called my innocent victim, got voice mail (which I expected, I’d have let me go to voice mail hell too) and began my sincere, rambling, act of contrition. I admitted I was wrong, that I acted like a tool, and for reasons I would like to explain (the unanswered but, oooops, never actually sent text), got myself all worked up and that I am so sorry, so very, very sorry. I failed. In every possible way I failed. Because I am human, I am fallible, I falter, and I failed.
With each passing hour, as the requested return call did not occur, I felt more and more sad. I was so un-kind to someone who has been nothing but kind to me. Every time the phone rang I raced to see who it was, but it wasn’t my friend. I kept the phone strapped to me all day, until I began to realize, there will be no phone call. There are a lot of thoughts that come to mind. I had very sincerely apologized, and wanted to do all that I could to make my wrong right, but without communication I was banned. And it was a lack of good communication that got me all worked up in the first place. I began to think about the art of forgiveness. There’s only so long you can spend in the pout house before you need to think about letting the other person off the hook, because eventually they will unhook themselves and no longer be tethered by bad feelings. The punishment has to be equal to the crime or after a while the offender will leave the contrite feelings behind and start thinking “Enough is enough, let’s move on”.
I’ve been on both sides of this fence, the grass isn’t green on either side. The grass is dead and prickly and there’s no swing set in the yard, I hate both sides of this fence, it’s in a crappy neighborhood. Forgiveness can be a tough one. We want to make people pay, and sometimes it just doesn’t feel like enough. My ex-husband once told me I was a world class grudge holder. The horrible, horrible thing about this is that at that time, many years ago, I found that to be a badge of honor. He, of course, didn’t mean it as a compliment, but I wanted people to know when they had wronged me and to never forget. How stupid is this?! But it took me a long time and a lot of experience with others failing me and me, in turn, failing others. I really don’t know what I expected to gain, but back then I didn’t know how to communicate well. I think being a “see you next Tuesday” (you know what I’m sayin’) was my way of pretending to be tough and hoping to ensure that at least that particular person didn’t put me in an uncomfortable position again, a position where I might have to have an uncomfortable conversation.
Again, failure to communicate well, i.e., texting when I should have just called, why didn’t I just call? Because it was during work hours and I don’t like to bug people at work if I can help it.
Being an Astro Creep, though, doesn’t show you’re tough at all, it just shows you can’t be more human than human. All relationships require communication; relationships with friends, with co-workers, with significant others, with your family, and with the checker at the grocery store. Many years ago I had to take a long look at some of the ways I had acted and I saw that people I ousted from my life, or kept in my life just to make sure they were still paying that debt, moved on and led happy lives, free of the crappy feelings I harbored. Oh the humanity, oh the indignity, so incredulous. I found it so hard to forgive then. It felt like it showed weakness in me. Silly, eh? Forgiveness takes an amazing amount of strength and resilience, far more than being unforgiving. Forgiveness requires opening your heart while simultaneously saying “What you did is not ok, but we can talk about it and establish some boundaries and move forward”. You have to walk that knife edge of not accepting poor behavior and still showing love and compassion. You know how this is best done? Say it with me, COMMUNICATION. When you’re the one who has been the jackass (I’m raising my hand right now) you have to be able to hear that, and it’s hard. I’ve had many, many opportunities to experience this and it’s still hard every time. You’d think I’d get used to it by now. I once told The Black Dogs Dad that people should come with warning labels. I was, of course, being accusatory, but I really should have a label myself. It would say something like “98% lovely, but look out for the other 2%”.
We all need forgiveness sometimes. Sometimes it takes a while, that’s ok. Sometimes you have to sit with a thing for while and think about that thing and then walk away from that thing a bit and maybe then go back and look at that thing and decide you’re ready and then maybe not and then you try again tomorrow and then you finally get there, with that thing. It’s not always instant. But like the building of any muscle, the more it’s done, the stronger it becomes and the easier it is to put to use. Forgiveness releases everybody. Not just the transgressor, but the transgressed upon as well. You’re free to leave it in the past, exercise your inner Taoist and be the water flowing over the rock, leaving it in your path, rather than banging your head against the rock for a million or so years before you even begin to make a dent in it. If you flow over the rock, then a million or so years from now you won’t even remember it. Leave it, let it go, be forgiving . . . when you can.
Forgiveness also shuts everyone else up. There can be no speculation when there is communication and forgiveness. When you don’t talk, then you can only guess and that usually makes it all even worse. Trust me, that’s how I got myself here in the first place. Did I mention it’s my fault? It’s my fault. Many years ago when Hugh Grant made his gargantuan error of having a liaison with a prostitute it was all over the news. He was supposed to appear on Jay Leno’s show that night and, naturally, the whole world assumed he would cancel his engagement after this embarrassing gaffe. But, he did not. He manned up and made his appearance. He was remarkably humbled, but he went through with it. When Jay Leno said “I gotta ask, WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?!” his response was “When you reach a certain age, you know the difference between right and wrong. What I did was wrong. I have no one to blame.” Not only did he man up and show up, he ‘fessed up and made no excuses. His already bright star went super nova right then. The world forgave him and the salivating tabloids had the wind taken out of their sails. What can you say now? Nothing, except “What a stand up guy”, tabloids don’t love that. No gossip, no speculation, and no need to hold a grudge. The story was old news in no time and no one even thinks of it anymore.
We all mess up sometimes, every single one of us, and here and there, we all mess up in a Herculean way. It’s not just me (although it’s me a lot), it’s everyone. The next time you are faced with the opportunity of forgiving someone try to remember a time when you asked for forgiveness. If you can’t grant it right away, that’s ok, at least try to talk about. At least let the other person know you need a bit of time. And if, in the end, you just can’t get past it, then have a talk about that too and try to part ways diplomatically. Easier said than done, I know, but at least think about it. You’ll feel better about it later, you really will. And, ya know, glass houses, stones, all that cliché rot. Additionally, when you have said your mea culpa’s and you’re waiting for the forgiveness train to come your way, let it go. You never know why some people take a while, or maybe even never come around. Maybe what you did brought up issues from someone else, you can’t help that. Maybe they have other mental bits and pieces going on, maybe their heads are full of things like “Should I become a chef or an astronaut”? Maybe their shoes are just too tight, you never know. Give your heartfelt apology, but then move on, don’t sit around just waiting. You’ve got a life to live too.
The events that inspired this story were totally avoidable. My behavior was inexcusable, yet I am asking to be excused, and here, before God and everybody, I can say “I was wrong. I am sorry.” This story is likely not even going to be read by the person to whom I am apologizing, but that’s ok, it still needs to be said and I feel good about it.
To err is human, to forgive; divine. Yeah, it’s cheese-y, but whatever, it’s true.