Pivotal

Question: How can you tell when I’ve written about having a really great day?

Answer: The NEXT day, the following occurs:
A) A child dons mud-crusted shoes and clomps through the freshly-vacuumed house,
B) My new website is hyped on a larger site and oh, by the way, is suddenly all weird-looking and broken,
C) Two days pre-haircut, I hit the critical “does she need a haircut or did a poodle die on her head?” stage,
D) It starts raining again (because it wasn’t WET ENOUGH),
or
E) All of the above.

Yeah.

It’s funny, while I was hunched over my keyboard this morning, sweating and maybe even crying and trying to get the site fixed and deal with everything else, it felt like it was going to be a verrrrrrry long day, full of annoyances.

I suppose it was. A lot of it has sort of fallen away, at the moment.

Once upon a time, there was a person who was very dear to me. We’ll call them… Person. (Am creative!) Person was important to me for lots and lots of reasons, and I felt a connection that always seemed (at the risk of sounding corny) sort of karmic. When I needed Person, Person had a way of showing up. Person was indeed the ONLY person in my life who seemed to fill a particular little nook which no one else could.

As these things often go, there was a falling out, and Person exited my life. Okay. Full disclosure? I punted Person out. Person declared a wish to stay, and I was angry and hurting and couldn’t deal. And I knew that slamming the door would hurt Person… maybe not as much as I was hurting, but it was a start. Righteous indignation is one of my talents. It was an Oscar-worthy performance, let me tell you.

Person has resurfaced, and we’ve been gently dancing around each other for a few emails, and I’ve been growing more and more uncomfortable. Because, this is sort of nice! And friendly! And almost like all that other crap never happened! Except it did! Except I’m over it! I think! But still! Now what? And what if there’s still a bucket of emotion perched on top of that door, and it comes down and drowns me if I let the door open too wide?

Wouldn’t it be easier just to keep the door shut?

Naturally, I did what I do, which is making with the words (oh, the very many words) and subjecting my therapist to my own in-depth analysis of how my discomfort is Just Plain Wrong because after all, I’ve already forgiven Person, and really, what the hell is my problem now?

My therapist (who is pretty, and has good shoes–the main criteria by which mental health professionals should be judged) disagreed with me. I sort of expected that. What I hadn’t expected was WHAT she would object to; she told me that I haven’t forgiven Person.

Well. This was a personal affront to my self-actualization. What did she MEAN? Of COURSE I had forgiven Person! Hadn’t I been coming here for years (shut. up.) and hadn’t I made admirable progress and I’d dealt with it and accepted it and–

Right, she interrupted me. You’ve accepted it. But forgiveness is a two-way street, and requires acknowledgement from the other person of their wrongdoing. You never got that from Person, she pointed out. What you have is ACCEPTANCE. You can’t FORGIVE without Person’s participation. Person has to own what happened.

I considered this. I’ve always conceptualized forgiveness as a personal activity, not requiring anything from the other person. This was a new way to look at it. And at the same moment in which I realized she was right, I realized why I’ve been uncomfortable.

I want to forgive Person, I said slowly. I can’t proceed with this without asking Person about that other stuff. Without asking for an apology, basically.

She nodded. I took a deep breath.

I don’t have a problem opening up that conversation, I continued. In fact, I’ve already sort of hinted at needing to rehash some things. But… I don’t expect that Person will be willing to discuss it. Or if they are, I don’t think I’m going to like what Person has to say. Because I don’t expect Person to be able to articulate what I need to hear.

And what would that mean…?

That would mean I need to walk away again.

She agreed.

I wasn’t really sure what to hope for, walking out of there. Sometimes it’s hard to discern the difference between a good idea and an old habit.

Tonight, I got an email from Person in response to my previous hint of needing to bring up some stuff. Person invited me to ask/say whatever I needed to. Which was weird, right off the bat. I mean, if you know me, you know that the righteous indignation thing can have a very ugly side. Tact has never been my strong suit, and that goes double for when I feel betrayed. This is not someone who enjoyed my over-developed sense of justice, before. Now the chances of my saying something Person wouldn’t want to hear were astronomical… yet Person said “go ahead.”

Maybe I should’ve taken some time to really plot out a strategy, before proceeding. But I was so surprised to be given carte blanche, I’d responded before I had time to stop and think… before I’d had time to stop and censor. What I actually wrote doesn’t matter; what it meant was: You hurt me. I still don’t understand. I laid equal odds on no response at all and an angry reply.

What I got back, almost immediately, was: I know. I’m sorry. Again, specifics are unimportant. The message I needed to hear–what I needed for that real forgiveness–was there. I read the mail several times over, blinking away tears.

I got what I wanted. I got what I thought I’d never get. I don’t even know what to do with it. I feel like I’m balancing a beautiful spun-sugar sculpture in my palm; I know that even if I manage not to drop it, the heat of my skin will melt it into ruin if I hold it too long. I need to find a way to proceed… the right way to proceed. To honor this rare and delicate thing, without wrecking it. Or letting it wreck me.

That bucket on the door is tipping, and I’m not sure what’s inside.

30 Responses to “Pivotal”

  1. 1
    Bob June 13, 2006 at 11:33 pm #

    LUCKY YOU! Most folks (read: me) don’t get a second chance for a great friend. I think the bucket is full of champagne. Best sipped, not gulped.

  2. 2
    carson June 13, 2006 at 11:40 pm #

    Wow. Not only are you all self-actualized and stuff, but Person seems to have made a bit of progress on Person’s own.

    Congrats to you both. This being a grown-up is for the birds.

  3. 3
    Horrible Warning June 13, 2006 at 11:43 pm #

    OMG, I loved the spun-sugar metaphor! Just hadta say…

    If Person is anything like me, Person probably is mortified for causing such pain. Go you for giving Person a chance. Seriously, takes a big, uh, person…hope it works out!

  4. 4
    daysgoby June 14, 2006 at 12:03 am #

    Being grown-up and having friends is so hard.

    Being Grown Up and working through a mine-field of emotions (or a bucketful, as you will) – even harder.

    Good luck.

  5. 5
    Irony Queen June 14, 2006 at 12:22 am #

    Ugh. I have a PERSON. We’re not done yet. And every few months we rehash the ugly and solve nothing and then it all goes back on a shelf again.

    Good for you two for maybe moving past things!

  6. 6
    DebR June 14, 2006 at 12:23 am #

    I’m an annoying optimist, so I’m going to hope the bucket is full of pretty confetti and shiny, brightly colored streamers, ok? Ok. :-)

    However it turns out, I think it’s pretty cool that you got that acknowledgment from Person. That’s a rare thing.

  7. 7
    mo June 14, 2006 at 12:47 am #

    Say thank you for the apology. Then move on slowly. Trust is one of those things that is very hard to regain.
    Glad to hear about the second chance.

  8. 8
    Cele June 14, 2006 at 2:19 am #

    I am totally with Mo on this one.

    To be anaylitical about this. If you hold it in two things happen…
    1) you could miss out on a friendship you’ve truly missed
    2) having passed it by will eat you up

    It’s like being married and being in a fight. When you get passed the fight, you accept each others apologies, it is over. You don’t dredge up the past with every disagreement, you forgive. But you never forget, and that is the downside.

    I wish you renewed friendship. :)

  9. 9
    Karen Rani June 14, 2006 at 7:27 am #

    You just made me realize something horrible. Oh the tears….but I suppose I needed to hear it. I thought I had forgiven my mother. Now I know I will never be able to. The dust has been kicked up. I wasn’t ready for this.

  10. 10
    Leanne June 14, 2006 at 7:56 am #

    Good. I am so glad to know that things went well with that Person and you’re healing from that experience. I’ve personally decided not to let anyone “in” after a certain level anymore because the type of betrayal and disappointment you experienced are far too common.

    Proceed with caution, of course. I’m sure you already are. If somewhere down the line, any Person needs a good arse kicking for hurting you again please call on me, and I will be happy to cuss and gripe about the Person behind their back, because I’m not so good with confrontation, either.

    Oh, and a good cut & color always makes a girl feel pretty, why wait another day? ;)

    Hugs!

  11. 11
    Mama Grouch June 14, 2006 at 8:29 am #

    That forgiveness vs acceptance thing is brilliant! I am going to have to start picking my therapist based on their shoes.

  12. 12
    KimberlyDi June 14, 2006 at 8:34 am #

    OK. You got to me on this one. My best friend in highschool was like a sister to me. A difficult sister but I loved her. We had several falling outs… the last one was the end.

    In my case, even an apology wouldn’t suffice. She kicked the loyalty out of me too many times. When my mother died, I wondered if she would show up for the funeral.

    She didn’t.

    Take it slow.

  13. 13
    Amy-Go June 14, 2006 at 9:45 am #

    OH! How very rare, and so precious, to get a second chance! Accept that apology and be friends again. Life’s too short to be bitter. What a blessing in the middle of all the crap you’ve had lately! Enjoy it! ;)

  14. 14
    Randi June 14, 2006 at 11:05 am #

    I’m totally with KimberlyDi. I had a best friend very simliar to hers, we were closer then sisters, the was my maid of honor, then it all went downhill. She moved to a different STATE and didn’t bother to tell any of us. And we tried and tried to communicate with her, but she brushed it off. Saw her at the doctor’s office the other day with her ner baby and she was all “HI!” so enthusiastic. I said “hello” and left the building. Do I wish we could be friends again? Yes…I do miss her. But there would have to be a hell of an apology and a huge explaination…like she as being controlled by aliens. If you’re moving forward, definitely take it slow.

  15. 15
    Elleoz June 14, 2006 at 12:23 pm #

    Give her another chance but take it slow. I would give anything to get a few of my old friends back in my life. As a previous posted said, “Being grownup and having friends is hard”. I so totally agree. Many posts to my blog can attest to that. Just this weekend I went on a crying jag with DH about not having any friends. It sucks to have no one to call a friend.

    Cherish the opportunity and make the most of it. Sounds like a 2nd chance and a new beginning. Can’t wait to hear more.

  16. 16
    The Other Leanne June 14, 2006 at 12:58 pm #

    I’m with Mo on this one, except for the moving on…that always sounds like “fuggedaboudit” and that hardly ever happens…you can only move FORWARD, one step at a time, taking the risk and learning whether the apology included that part where they say, “I will try to never do that again.” Forgiveness isn’t a one-time thing, either, it’s a process. Good luck, it sounds like it’s worth doing for someone who means so much to you (and they are the only ones who really can hurt us, aren’t they?).

  17. 17
    Steff June 14, 2006 at 1:38 pm #

    Wow! That was a serious one…

    live today like there is no tomorrow and enjoy the opportunity to renew this friendship!

  18. 18
    udge June 14, 2006 at 2:15 pm #

    Yeah, what mo said. A good start has been made, now I wish you both luck.

    (Maybe the bucket is full of kittens?)

  19. 19
    Jenn2 June 14, 2006 at 2:16 pm #

    I won’t bore you with details, but know that your post gave me some insight on a personal problem that is enveloping me. Thank you for sharing.

  20. 20
    Gillian June 14, 2006 at 2:38 pm #

    I am not sure why everyone is assuming Person is she. Not that it matters, but…well, it matters. Person has obviously changed. You have too. If you step into a new relationship with person you have to release some expectations about the shape it will assume. You each know how wicked, untrustworthy and wrong the other can be. Even so, you are gently seeking one another out. I think I would discount giddy and ecstatic feelings because they would be coming from my longings rather than my experience. But I would have to honor that soft chime of hope. If you can find friendship together it would be a sweetness richer because you each chose to be vulnerable to achieve it.

    I think healing your broken trust will happen slowly enough to ensure you keep your balance. If the relationship thrives it will not be spun sugar at all but a sapling with deep roots. If it doesn’t work you must still respect that you choose to reach for sweetness rather than live with bitterness.

  21. 21
    alice June 14, 2006 at 2:43 pm #

    The bucket is at least partly full of tingly happy feelings, because that’s what came out when I was reading your post.

    Congratulations on being straightforward, and congratulations to Person for being able to take it, and being able to straight out apologize.

  22. 22
    MsShad June 14, 2006 at 4:15 pm #

    Unfortunately, the bucket anaology makes me think water. And ummm… at the very least, a strong back might be very handy to have with your basement…

  23. 23
    Lucinda June 14, 2006 at 4:35 pm #

    I have been reading your blog for about a month now. It’s wonderful. You make me laugh and cry and root for you. Thank you. ( I love Want Not too!)

    I have a Person. We had that talk too. That was about 3 years ago now. We aren’t as close as we were before but we are getting there. Take it slow. Give it time. Say thank you and accept this gift. Hugs and prayers for you.

  24. 24
    Heather June 14, 2006 at 8:00 pm #

    That was beautiful, Mir. Forgiveness is definitely a complicated thing. Thanks for sharing.

  25. 25
    peek317537 June 14, 2006 at 10:05 pm #

    I think that is great. The best part is that she feels you are important enough to her to try and make things right. That doesn’t happen very often. I wish you the best.

  26. 26
    Susan June 14, 2006 at 11:11 pm #

    We both need to have a therapist living in our spare rooms. Seriously.

    I heart you. And I would tell you so in person but I still can’t send e-mail from my current location! So there you go.

  27. 27
    Carol June 14, 2006 at 11:14 pm #

    I agree with some of the previous comments — accept the apology by thanking Person for giving it and owning the situation. Then, if you can, truly forgive and move forward slowly. I wonder — do you feel as though you don’t deserve happiness? You do, ya know.

    I’m sorry you had a rough day. I have 3 children (ages 2, 4 and 6) and my husband is deployed to Iraq for 4 months. To admit that I’m overwhelmed right now would be an understatement. But I’m a really great commiserator. I spent all of 10 minutes with one of my children today and I was ready to place him on the corner with a sign on his neck!

  28. 28
    elswhere June 15, 2006 at 12:22 am #

    You have one smart cookie of a therapist. Not to mention being an extremely smart and brave cookie yourself.

  29. 29
    kelly June 15, 2006 at 7:25 am #

    Lovely and affirming. I’m going through a similar process with a very important Person from my past, finally able to articulate what I feel and have Person tell me what I need to hear. Spun sugar sculpture indeed. Indeed.

    sob…

  30. 30
    sumo June 19, 2006 at 3:33 pm #

    1. I love how you write.
    2. You have a great therapist.
    3. It appears that you have both grown. Has it been enough growth, in the right directions? Only one way to find find out. Ease into it, deal with the 800 lb gorilla up front and be ready for the possible disappointment down the road. It sure sounds worthy of an attempt.

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