My family on my dad’s side is Irish, and here is our motto:
Patriae Infelici Fidelis
Faithful to an Unhappy Country
I get tired just thinking about it. Reminds me of this completely memorable line in The Departed:
Colin: [to Madolyn] If we’re not gonna make it, it’s gotta be you that gets out, cause I’m not capable. I’m fucking Irish, I’ll deal with something being wrong for the rest of my life.
I’m wondering if this is why it’s so hard for me to let go of people, no matter how they treat me. I cannot stop saying I’m sorry, I cannot stop making amends, and I cannot deal with the fact that I just need to stop caring. I’m not capable. It’s hard for me to come to that point where I realize that I am taking on way more responsibility than is rightfully mine just to smooth things over and make good. I stop caring about whether things are right or fair or good and just take the blame because it’s better to be wrong and together than right and alone. I stop standing up for myself and just acquiesce.
For instance, Argo and Dana both believe that I constantly treated them like shit. There were plenty of times when I was in the wrong and I wholeheartedly accept that, but constantly? You can tell from this web site that’s not true. I have given them love, and in their anger, they wipe it away as if it is nothing. I am the villain, the crazy person, the easy way to dispose of their situations with me because it means never having to acknowledge their parts in our relationship. Never acknowledging that it always takes two to tango in a fight. Never seeing that I have valid emotions toward them, both positive and negative…. but they choose what they see, and what they see is all of the times I was wrong and never the times I was right.
And yes, I have used always and never, which therapists tell everyone that’s a bad idea. But in this case, it is apt. They do not see me as a human with a full range of emotions, just a psycho.
I finally had to come to a place in my healing that said, “if that’s what they want to believe, then let them believe it. It doesn’t matter whether it’s true or not, because it’s their perception, not reality.” Or, as a great philosopher once said, “well, that’s just like, your opinion, man.” However, it does not stop me from being faithful in trying to forgive them for their opinion of me because it just hurts me. All the way around.
I never in a million years thought that Dana would say to me, “your eyes don’t look like home anymore.” This was after a fight in which I told her that her words created a tape in me that pushed all my abuse buttons at once. I had to breathe through it like labor, and I was thinking, deeply, about the issue at hand. When I told her as much, she said, “I just keep making it worse!” Meaning that she thought I was keeping score and she was losing. There was never any scoreboard. I never kept track of anything in terms of judgment, but if a new behavior smacked of an old one, I would tell her so. People who don’t want to open up to you and examine their behaviors tend to say you’re “throwing things back in their faces.” People who are comfortable with themselves are open to analyzing behavior and talking about it. Because in a discussion, how do you come to resolution if you are not open to creating new patterns, new ways of being in the world rather than repeating them? If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got.
The other thing is that when people say to you “you’re just throwing things back in my face,” they tend to stomp off and end the discussion altogether, so that no progress is made at all. Then, the relationship is just the same fight, over and over and over and over and over ad nauseam, infinitum. I should know that I cannot change people, and I shouldn’t try. But what do you do when their pattern hurts you and you can’t change it? What happens when the person cannot listen to your complaints and take them in and change themselves without your influence?
The relationship ends.
My forgiveness is just about instantaneous, but my memory is long. Not only that, I thrive on conversations about analyzing behavior, because while that is not my profession, it is my personality type. With Dana, those conversations were especially difficult because she insisted that her memory was better than mine, that I wasn’t remembering things right, that I didn’t have a point because my memory just didn’t work.
My father will tell you that is inaccurate. So will Diane… one of my favorite lines that she ever said to me is “why do you think I don’t tell you anything? You remember it.”
Even Argo plays that game. That I cannot “keep my story straight.” It’s not that. It’s like the old story about all the blind men touching different parts of an elephant. They all have different perspectives that don’t line up. I remember different details at different times, and the timestamp matters. Everything I have remembered is true to the best of my ability, but they aren’t all on the same place on the z-axis. Some are closer, some are further away, and they switch places at random. The best way to get a story out of me is to ask me to tell it three or four or six or eight times and then look at them synoptically.
Except for the fistfight between Dana and me. The trauma from that evening caused spots to disappear, and I don’t know that I will ever get them back. They’re just dead. And this applies to both things I said and did as well as the things she said and did. I am not trying to make anyone look better or worse in that scenario, I just can’t bring up what I can’t remember. The most traumatic moments compete with each other, they do not line up chronologically… and that is my weakness, because it makes Dana’s memory “better.” Therefore, easier for her to throw my viewpoint out altogether because obviously, I am a liar.
It hurts that these perceptions are from the same people that initially thought I was brilliant, clever, funny… and none of those attributes seem to matter anymore. Their opinion is that none of the emotional RPGs they threw at me were as bad as the ones I threw at them. They were never actors, only responders. Nothing I ever said to them was in response to their nastiness, they just came out of thin air. I call bullshit, and should. Things get said in anger that don’t get said in peace, on both sides of the equation, but apparently only my words matter. I am so tired of it that I could scream, but screaming doesn’t do any good because it goes up against a brick wall and bounces back toward me… because they didn’t hurt me at all. I’m just a bad person.
They accuse me of analyzing their behavior for creating excuses. I do not excuse any of my behavior. Not in the slightest. But I am not only a product of my decisions, but my reactions as well. Trying to understand the complete picture does not mean that I am making excuses. It means that I am trying to understand all of the working parts in a situation and not just mine.
Circumstances are everything.
Trying to understand circumstances is bringing the whole picture to life, because I understand the pawns that I moved, but I also want to understand the ones they did. I want to see the whole board for what it is, and not just quietly stand next to the king.
I do not see what is wrong with that, but to them, obviously it is. I just need to find people in my life that also like to understand the whole chessboard… that do not think actions and reactions are singular.
But right now, in my smallest place, I am living up to my name. Extraordinarily faithful to an unhappy country in which there are only two citizens.