I’ve been wanting to contribute something new. A new post, that is. I’ve chosen to fall into a cycle of never-before-told post followed by a more current one, and now it’s been turn for a current post. I’ve been working on a few different things, and they each have their merits, but I’m a bit stuck in each of them, in their own respective ways.
So, I’m going to write about my process of creating, and transforming, meaning in my life. Let me be clear, because I won’t mention this again in this post: this is my process. This is what has worked for me. This is how I work. This is not how I think everyone else operates, or should operate, or needs to operate. If in reading this you feel that I have set unreasonable guidelines, I’m sorry. It is not my intention to set guidelines for others, reasonable or not. I’m merely using this space to explore and express my own experiences, and perhaps contribute my small part to the larger discussion. That’s all.
I grow through writing. Let me rephrase that: I grow through processing. I grow through processing, which I do best by writing. Journaling. Editing. Revising. I do these things that frustrate me, that tire me, that take me away from people I love–yes there are people I love, I’ll get to that later–from hobbies I enjoy, from work which I need in order to provide for myself (alright, to supplement for myself; I admit it, I’m not independent in the full sense of the word just yet!); it takes me away from participating. It takes me away from doing. It takes me away from life.
But it makes my life mean something. Instead of a jumble of events, meaningless string of encounters, without follow-through, without the concept of causality, I have a framework. I have a constantly-adapting framework through which to understand those encounters, those memories, those experiences. I don’t want an unlived-life, but I don’t want an unexamined one either. Neither would be enough for me. Whether that’s how everyone else is, or only a select group of kindred spirits, or no one else operates that way; it’s still how I am, it’s how I am best, and I am capable of maintaining that balance of lived-and-examined life.
And as for love? I mentioned that earlier. I even said “people”, not “person.”
Now, wait, wait; don’t get all excited. Whether you’re a friend, a lover, or a close relative, you won’t hear me say it. Don’t expect to hear me say it every time we say goodbye, or hello, or give you a peck on the cheek to let you know that it’s so. No. Even if you are my lover, and my confidante, and my best friend and my cheerleader all rolled up in one, you won’t hear me say it often. It’s just not how I operate. I will tell you, a few times, and when I do you will know that I am telling the truth. And I will look at you. I will look at you and you will know. I will let you know in small ways, and if you know how to listen, you will hear it.
My point was, that I have the capacity for love. I believe that I have the capacity to love, and be loved. I know that I do, because I have, and because I have faith.
Now, I’m not sure what picture of myself and my life I’ve painted through the compilation of my previous posts here. I’m sure it’s slanted. So in case my selections are totally mis-representational of the whole, here’s the short version: I’ve been resisting. Much of my life, I’ve been resisting, one thing or another. I didn’t want to call myself a survivor, that meant identifying as a former victim. I didn’t want to let go of the anger, because it fueled me to advocate for myself. I didn’t want to let go of the pain, because it was familiar, and I trusted it, and I knew it was real.
But at the bottom of it all, for me, it was fear. Fear of a predator, fear of anger, fear of the unknown. Fear that it had all been for nothing: that all the pain was nothing more than misinterpretation; that he hadn’t meant me harm, that he was nothing more than a stupid, curious boy; and that all the callouses I’d built up to make myself stronger were unnecessary.
Someone asked me once, “What is the opposite of fear?” I remember hesitating for a moment before saying it was faith. I didn’t ponder “In what?” at the time, but I’ve figured it out nonetheless. It isn’t faith in a God, a separate, Higher Power; not even in a Greater Plan or Destiny. I don’t believe in a God, I don’t believe in a pre-determined Greater Plan. I believe in capacity. The capacity to heal. The capacity to make all those wrongs irrelevant at the end of the day, not because they have no consequence, but because they don’t have to be all that terrible stuff they’re made out to be. Once I agree to let go of my belief that he was malicious, that he had intent, that he understood what he was doing… there’s a lightness. Because I’ll likely never meet him again. I never knew him very well. I doubt I’ll ever have any interaction with him again. Letting go of the anger… of the fear… It’s a lightness of being I can’t recall. That’s how old the damage is.
And forgiveness? I’m not going to say I forgive him. I’m not there yet; and no, it doesn’t contradict my letting go of the idea that he did it on purpose. Since when does the need for forgiveness ever have a rational relationship with intent on the part of the “wrong-doer”? It’s frustration. I’ll work it out eventually. If I don’t, at least I know I’m not carrying it with me.
Who is there to forgive then?
That little girl who did as she was told; and the young woman that shut herself down, that cut herself off; and the young woman who balked at the thought of being loved; and the young woman who told someone for the first time that she didn’t believe she was capable of love and believed there was something wrong with her; and all those women in between that I have been. All of them were afraid. That’s why they shut down, that’s why lacked faith, that’s why they couldn’t forgive. What is forgiveness, anyway?
For me, forgiveness is letting go. It as accepting, humbly, graciously, accepting my own flaws of judgment that have harmed me, that have kept me from being happy.
“Nothing can touch a soul that is protected by faith,” I read from a church marquis once, and occasionally when reciting it to myself, I will make a Freudian slip and think: “Nothing can touch a soul that is protected by fear.” And this, unfortunately, is also true. Fear was my protection from the unknown. It was also my protection from the truth. My fear protected me from recognizing that I was the one still hurting from second grade, and that I was the only one who could change that, who could turn that pain into healing.