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),
E) All of the above.
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.
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.