I spent 9 months last year hating, just hating, The Forgiven. Did he deserve to have such strong negative emotions flung at him? Yeah, I think so. Was his behavior reprehensible? Absolutely. Was he selfish and self serving and did he disappear when I needed him most? You betcha. The boss I had two years ago deserved it too. BUT…
That hatred and resentment nearly killed me. It soured me. Hardened my heart. Overwhelmed me until I couldn’t get past any wrongs anyone did to me.
I really and truly, very simply, do not want to live like that one moment longer. I still will let myself feel the emotions of disappointment, loss, anger. But as I’ve said here many times, I simply can not afford to pitch my tent there. I can not afford resentments. It will kill me and my heart, after the death of 4 friends this year and the complete and unexpected disappearance of another (she disappeared in early December and no one can find her), the draining of job confidence, the stress of the money situation, I simply can not afford to stay there.
The only BF/lover/partner I never want to see again under any circumstances is the man I divorced in 1984. All other relationships ended in friendship, even if I don’t see any of them any more. Even The Forgiven and I made up and are friendly when we see each other. Some of those men? Well their wives sent me birthday cards and there is a standing invitation to visit the Oregon coast any time I like where one ex lives with his wife (who was his wife before me AND after me, god the tangles).
So last night I walked in to the meeting and I smiled at him and made a face. I did get called on and got as honest as I could. There is no way I get to deal with my stuff in public at her expense. I don’t even get to deal with it in public at HIS expense. After all, I’m sure he has his own version of this. We all have our filters and meetings are not about punching folks in the face. His GF was there, she doesn’t know about us (surely not, she smiled at me, we like each other), I don’t want her to, and I am not going to bite off my nose to spite my face.
But I did share this vision I’ve had for the last few days. That I can see my heart in pieces, laying on the floor, starting to collect a little dust. That it’s tempting to just sweep it up and throw it in the trash. But underneath the cracks and the dust I can see the barest hint of a glow and while I have to look very hard I think there is still a pulse. What is oddest about this vision is that for the first time in my life I’m not picking it up and forcing it all back together with glue and tape. I’m The Observer, just watching it do what it’s doing. At some point I’m sure that it will heal itself and do a better job than glue and tape. But it is strange to be so detached on this level. “Oh look. My heart is broken. Interesting.”
But before you think that TCM broke my heart you need to remember the lost friends, the lost work, the lost security, the lost love that was actually real love. You have to remember the horror of 2008 that was my life. Many of us experienced that in 2008. I know many many people who have dealt with staggering loss.
“Frieda” whose husband had a severe reaction to some meds and was burned, literally, from the inside out, all his organs, and all of his skin. BURNED. Third degree burns. From a medication. He lost his eyelids, the skin of his lips, inside his cheeks. Only now is he off the feeding tube. And what does he do? Blame her. The PTSD is overwhelming her. She is grief striken beyond belief. She can’t work. Her mortgage is astronomical. She has an 11 year old child. She is still sober. She is walking it one day at a time. And then there’s Karen whose husband Terry died a couple weeks ago. She was there too for the first since his death. She couldn’t even speak.
My pain, my suffering really doesn’t come any where near theirs. But it is mine. I get to have it and experience it and heal it. And who comes to comfort me last night after my share about the heart on the floor and the thoughts of suicide and the pain of my losses? Frieda. Of course.
M’s GF left at the break in the meeting to go home. She didn’t stay to finish, she didn’t go out to eat with all of us after wards. Hope things are working for them. But I don’t want the kind of life they seem to want. And that’s good.
M. hung around after the meeting and I felt surprisingly comfortable. I was able to talk to him. And I wanted to let him know that I do actually want to keep being friends. I want to keep that. And when he finally arrived at the restaurant, the only vacant seat was next to me. So I told him. And he said he was glad. So we made up as best as two people can when they are surrounded by people who don’t know that they even saw each other outside those two rooms. I’m glad. And can at least move on in this part of my life. As my friend R. said at lunch yesterday. This will be a blip in the story of my life.
And I? Feel very good about myself. The nerves are gone. Several people came up to me last night and said that I told their story. Which was not about a guy. But about loss and pain and survival and walking through your life one day at a time.
You know, when I had 2.5 years sober I was worse than M. I had an affair with a married man. There was the time I invited a fellow I knew over to my house for dinner the day it snowed and he stayed 3 days. He said he was impotent so I felt safe. He was a liar. Turned out he was a sexual predator, not sober 10 years but using needles. And I had thought at the time that I was the one with the power in the relationship. Learned a lesson there. The internal shame that I felt (because how could I admit to anyone about that 3 day snow weekend because I thought, well, I can’t exactly articulate but my motives were totally selfish suffice it to say) when the cops came and arrested him in a meeting for failing to register as a sex offender I can not begin to tell you. In many ways, M. is doing much better than I was at the same time in my recovery. Really. Took me 12 years to have an actual real relationship longer than three months in sobriety. And I wasn’t able to fix it. It was truly broken, probably because it was never really whole to begin with.
I have a job to do. How am I to teach anyone how to walk through difficulties with other people, because let’s admit most of our difficulties have to do with other people, if I am resentful, angry, and unforgiving when people act out in ways that, yes, hurt others, but mostly hurt themselves. I would rather show that I am capable of love and tolerance. I would rather show how to heal than harm. If I react to M.’s behavior with behavior that is ugly, what good comes of that? NONE. And I can show them that when I err, I can make amends asap. For the better. In this case only me and M. and my sponsor know the truth of this. Just because folks don’t know doesn’t mean they aren’t affected. What if I had thrown a fit, raged against him, there in our home group? What would I show them how to do? How would that hurt me? Hurt the GF? Hurt him? What good comes of that? So they don’t know the gift I was able to give and receive but it will affect them forever none the less.
So. I show him I can forgive. Maybe he knows that already. There are other things I can show him. I can show him that I am a person of great value and worth, and that I do have some wisdom and while he might not want me the way I want him, he wants what I have. Sobriety. Recovery. Decency. Healthy Choices. And perhaps one day he will grow a deeper conscience and make a real amends to me for his part. And I will do the same for mine. Perhaps he will want to do what I do to have what I have. Perhaps, just perhaps, the only reason we came together in this lifetime is for me to model for him the behavior that he wants to integrate into himself. That behavior I modeled? No sex without care of the other, that no one is a “convenience.” And for him to show me that I am still desirable because I really thought I wasn’t. Maybe, just maybe, this situation will be enough for him to really become willing to change his stripes as he says he wants to. I believe him. He’s going to fall down. He’s going to make mistakes. Just like I do, continue to do. Because I played a part in this whole thing too you know. I knew he wanted to slow things down and yet I hugged him too long suspecting what might happen if I did. I said to him that I wasn’t planning on making it easy for him. I have to apologize specifically for that. I’m sure one day I’ll get the chance. Welcome to my world, full of chances to do better next time..
Because this girl? Used to have stripes too. And spots and black holes and swastikas. And there are still a few spots although they aren’t nearly as obvious as they used to be.
Forgiveness? Feels pretty darned good. I’m not ready to forget, I rarely do that. But I can forgive.
The good things I got out of this brief affair:
- The knowledge that at 50 I am still HOT. That men 10 years younger still think so. That I am NOT past my pull date.
- That I can keep the core of myself, be true to myself, that I don’t have to be a hater any more.
- Aren’t those first two good enough? 😉
One last thing. I refuse to say bad things about M. which means that, even though folks mean well in support of me, you are not welcome to do so, not here. He is not scum. He is not a jerk. He is a sick person trying to get well and I must give him the same chances I was given. Am still given. No matter what I do the people in my home group at least do not reject me. When I fall down, when I am in pain, when I lash out, when I implode they give me love. They model for me what and who I want to be. M. and I both have our good days and our bad days and I still value him in my life very much. His friendship, what we can have of it at this point in time is of importance to me. And it appears mine is to him. How truly good is that? If I call him names or call him out or threaten his attempts to do what is right with his GF, well that is not who I want to be. It just isn’t.
I’m going for a walk around the lake with a woman I met at the meeting last night. It will be good to get out of myself, she is in pain too. A freelance graphics designer who moved here last autumn her work situation is even more desperate than mine.
I have a get together with my High Priestess this afternoon and then she is making me dinner. It’s a good day.