INNER DODIE: rambling around inside the mind of a slightly eccentric lady... with time on her hands
|Musings, Ramblings and Minor Insights|
April 13, 2009
Forgiveness, and the Breaking of Will
I knew it would come to this, sooner or later. I know this feeling far too well to pretend otherwise. I knew it all my years of growing up, and I know it now. It is the barely submerged knowing, somewhere in the realm of your subconscious, that what you are trying to practice is not true, or right. It is the gradual coming into your awareness the knowledge that this is a matter you must deal with. Honestly. Truthfully. Realistically. And, when it comes, I do deal with it.
Perhaps it was the anniversary. Or perhaps it was just time....
Lying, for me, has always been difficult. I may not have agreed with many of the things that were instilled into me as a child, but the importance of truth and honesty is one I embraced and still accept wholeheartedly. As an adult, I had to learn the benefit of 'lies of omission'--the harmless withholding of opinion so as not to hurt someone's feelings unnecessarily. I still find it difficult, but I understand the importance of this concept now, and I know it's right. And I had to learn the fine art of pretending in order to protect myself--whether in a work situation, or in a personal relationship. That is the lying that I hate so much. That is the lying that I have sworn:
NEVER AGAIN!But, of course, I don't know if it will be 'never again.' Because I have to be honest and recognize that, if I ever find myself in a similar position again, my survival instinct will no doubt kick in, and I will once again be in the untenable position of 'lying' to survive. I get the distinct impression from talking to what I call 'normal' people, that they don't even consider this lying. They just consider it 'life-the-way-it-is', what you have to do to get along in the world. And maybe that explains some of the difficulties I've had over the years, 'getting along.' God knows, I'm clueless when it comes to many of the more subtle aspects of human interaction. I suppose it's yet another part of the normal socialization process that I missed out on because of my cloistered upbringing.
I woke up early this morning and my mind started buzzing. There was no chance of going back to sleep..... It has been one year--well, the actual anniversary was last Thursday (see? honesty kicking in!)--one year since that evil woman finally got her evil deed accomplished (after six years of effort), and I was relieved of my livelihood and purpose that had been mine for 28 years. I say these words, not to be cruel, not as an exaggeration, not because I'm unforgiving but because, quite simply, they are true.
I've been known to get into some lively discussions with folks over the concept of 'forgiveness.' I've had some even livelier discussions with them in my imagination alone. This seems to be one of those areas where I feel like I've lied for long enough. Now, maybe I don't understand what the accepted definition of 'forgiveness' is. As I define it, it certainly isn't a foreign concept to me. If I sat down and thought about it, I'm sure I could come up with quite a long list of things I've forgiven over the years. Some small, some not so small. But the key to understanding forgiveness is knowing exactly what you mean by the word. In my world, true forgiveness, by definition, goes along with either knowing that the person who hurt you did not intend or purposefully hurt you...or--if you choose to share with them your sense of hurt--they feel bad about it. Remorse. If, on the other hand, the hurt was intentional, and there simply is no remorse, 'forgiveness' on my part simply will not take care of it. I may reach a point of understanding, to some degree, why the person behaved as they did, and this may bring me enough relief to at least get on with my life. However, I contend that no amount of 'forgiveness' can take away the hurt. It simply has to be put away in a dark corner of the mind as we try to move forward and not think about it.
Perhaps I can make this clearer. Let's say someone I care about has died. The hurt is real, the hurt may seem almost unbearable. But as time goes by, it lessens. We recover enough that we eventually begin to move on with our lives. But, the pain of the loss is never really gone. There may even be times when we are reminded of our loss and the pain returns briefly and for a time we actually feel as if we are re-experiencing the loss again. Not quite as intensely, certainly not for nearly as long. I'm sure no one would ever dream of critizing me for growing misty-eyed, or even a bit depressed on my mother's birthday, or on Mother's Day. Now, if I were still unable to function all these years after her death, yes, we could all agree that was not 'normal' and that perhaps some counseling might be in order. But normal feelings, brought back by remembering?? Well, that's just... normal.
This is very similar to how I experience other kinds of 'hurts' in my life. If we are fortunate enough to get ourselves removed from the hurtful situation, it can begin to heal. As time goes by, the constant pain lessens. The sense of injustice is no longer our constant companion. However, when we are reminded... or if it's an ongoing situation that we are required by circumstances to deal with from time to time--say, dealing with your ex-husband for the sake of the children, for example... If there has been no resolution of any kind, if there has been no acknowledgement of the 'truth' of the matter, how can we in all honesty expect complete healing? After all, didn't our mothers always tell us, 'If you don't stop picking at that scab, it will never heal!'? In my book, it's the same damn thing. I don't sit around on a daily basis thinking about all the evils that have been perpetrated against me, but when the subject comes up and my buttons are pushed, I am not ashamed to admit, I still feel. I don't think this is a shortcoming on my part. I think it is perfectly human, and perfectly normal. I dare say most folks, if they were to be honest, would agree with me.
Now we come to the really difficult part: What, really is evil?? Again, I have a very simple definition: Injury that is purposefully and knowingly perpetrated against an individual--that is what I call 'evil.' Again, I am not ashamed to say I feel this way. I don't think I'm alone in feeling it. I think there is a need, a drive almost, for justice and decency and fairness that human beings are born with. Sometimes circumstances and experiences can take this away from them. Perhaps they have been hurt so many times, and in such dreadful ways, that they can no longer feel the bonds of compassion for other human beings that we take for granted. Perhaps in their pain, they are still flailing at the perpetrators of their own pain, and if someone else is in the way... oh well.... It's not pretty, and I'm not saying they are to blame for what has been done to them. I am simply saying that, in order for me to protect myself from this kind of collateral damage, I first have to recognize what's going on. I have to be able to honestly admit, if only to myself: 'This person is dangerous. This person can and will hurt me, if allowed to.' I must acknowledge the truth and somehow get out of the way because, this kind of danger cannot be blocked by any of our normal day-to-day ways of dealing with life. This is why I choose to call it 'EVIL'. Because it is so dangerous. Because it is so insidious. Because it is so unstoppable, and it will take down anyone in its path, if they are not wary.
Thankfully, I am no longer directly exposed to the person who inflicted this level of damage on me. And there is not a day that I don't wake up grateful in that knowledge. But I still have friends, people I care about who are. They are in danger. They are afraid to speak up. I still hear the horror stories, and I still care about their well-being. And when I hear about it, I can't help but be outraged and incensed and downright hurt that this is still allowed to go on. I am human, after all. Damn it, I CARE!! Yes, most days I manage to live a very nice life, without any of these evil deeds coming to mind. But the facts are what they are. Every day in this world, whether in my little corner, or in the farthest reaches of the globe, dreadful, awful, unspeakable pain is being inflicted on innocent human beings. Far worse than what has ever been done to me. If I feel it this intensely, how must the victims of war and despotism feel? And how can we--if we call ourselves compassionate--how can we just blithely say, 'Oh forgive them--Jesus would'? Even Jesus said to forgive them IF THEY REPENT! I know I never heard it presented that way in Sunday School!! How can we say that evil is all right? How can we say that, if only we love enough, some day it will all get better? Shouldn't someone stand up and say, THIS IS WRONG??? Shouldn't our honesty and our compassion demand that we condemn evil? Shouldn't it demand that we ACKNOWLEDGE it?? Not deny that it even exists??
Now, maybe I'm just not a good enough person, because I cannot forgive the sadistic, purposefully inflicted hurts in the world. So be it. But I'm beginning to believe that pacifism and turning the other cheek are never going to change anything. It certainly didn't change my situation. I can't help but think, if only this bully hadn't been able to frighten the other people that worked under her, maybe, just maybe, together the five of us might have been able to do something to change things. The outcome would have been a whole lot happier for a whole lot of people. But they were afraid. I don't blame them, and I certainly don't condemn them. I understand why they were afraid. I understand better than anyone!!
Make no mistake: I have moved on. I am not sitting here saying, 'Damn her, I wish I still had that job!' No, I have faced myself, and I have faced the truth, and I have been able to recognize that, given the circumstances that I could not change, I am simply thankful to have escaped. And I am working hard every day to rebuild my life so that I can move on. But again, I have to be honest... there is still a teeny part of me, deep inside that dares to say,
I SHOULDN'T HAVE HAD TO MOVE ON!I think the victims of the world are, at the very least, entitled to say the same:
IT'S WRONG, AND IT SHOULDN'T HAVE TO BE!!!!If we're never allowed to acknowledge the truth, the truth will never be changed.