To Err Is Human
I no longer want to kill him. When I see or hear something that triggers a memory of him, I no longer feel the need to tightly wrap my fingers around his thick neck and squeeze until fragments of brain and skull explode out the top of his shiny bald head. When thoughts of him suddenly pop up in my head, I don't find myself having the usual fantasy of randomly running into him on the street and pummeling him into a whimpering heep of human garbage. Give me another year, and I probably won't even feel the need to vividly describe an act of violence towards him. Add any amount of time after that, and I'll probably be sitting around going "Who? Oh yeah, that guy!". A lot of people believe in the old saying "Time Heals All Wounds", but I disagree. Time didn't have shit to do with bringing me to a place where I no longer feel a burning hatred for this person. I didn't just look at a calendar one day and decided enough time had gone by and that I was healed. Hell, no. It took long conversations with people all across the world about what I lived through and how I was going to survive. Months and months of furiously writing in my journal, tediously describing each emotion, struggling to understand a way to escape the anger and hurt. Long nights where I fell asleep in friends and lovers arms, quietly and purposefully blocking out thoughts and images of him. Learning how to understand what happened to me and struggling to find a way to not be constantly consumed with rage.
The word "forgive" comes to mind, but that's just not quite the right word. That word has some pseudo psychological Christianity turn-the-other-cheek feel to it that I'm not quite comfortable with. For one thing, I am definitely NOT a Christian and if someone strikes me on the cheek, I'm going to beat them down before they have a chance to try to strike the other one. Plus the word forgive feels as if there's a certain level of condoning and understanding the other person's behavior. Some level of acceptance for what they have done. That they are somehow excused or exonerated for whatever wrong they have committed. If you look at the word "forgive" in that sense, then I am unrelenting, unforgiving person when someone has deeply and completely wronged me. The perfect example that comes to my mind is my Father. My Father is a brutalizing, manipulative, abusive, sick man and I will never forgive him for what he did to me and my family. I will never let it go, I will never excuse it, and I will never forget. I know a lot of people that say holding onto that kind of emotion is toxic, but I'm not holding onto anything. I am completely comfortable and at ease with the emotions I feel towards my Father. Hating him is the only right and just reaction I could possibly have after everything I lived through at his hands. Here's another example that isn't as personally wrapped up into my life...would any woman out there actively work on "forgiving" the man who rapes them? A woman might struggle with understanding what has happened to her, learn how to deal with the terrible and crushing after effects, relearn strength and beauty...but forgive the rapist? No. I would never even recommend trying.
What I do believe in is letting go. I have had plenty of people hurt me and do wrong by me, but if I had held onto the painful and negative emotions attached to all of those experiences, then by now I'd be a quivering, highly medicated, dangerous person in need of severe ankle and wrist restraints in some dungeon like institution. And so I work on letting go. I work very hard on understanding exactly why something has hurt me, and then I figure out a way to bring it to that person and try to discover ways for both of us to not be hurt by each other in the future. If the person continues to hurt me in the same way, then I try to find out if this is actually my problem, my issue. That I might be the person who needs to change behavior and let go of some issue that I'm holding onto. And if I'm not able to let go of the issue or I'm not willing to change and the person hurting me isn't able or willing to change and I'm still getting hurt, then I let go of the person. I try to let go without anger, without resentment. With the understanding that letting go means that they will find the people who can accept them as they are and that it frees me up to connect with the people who can completely embrace me. Perspective is important too. If you hurt me ten years ago and I was exceedingly pissed back then, most likely I've forgotten about it by now. Your band had some issue with my band? This many years later, I honestly don't care or I've totally forgotten what it was about in the first place. We got into a drunken argument at a party back in the mid 90's? honestly don't have the time to care anymore. To err is human, to forgive might not be divine, but learning to let go works for me.