I Forgive You

This is a writing prompt from Bryn, to write a letter forgiving myself for a mistake. I started it a week or so ago, and am just now finishing it.

Dear Leslie,

You are forgiven. Honestly and completely.

You read that in Matt Smith’s voice, didn’t you? Of course you did. Watching The Doctor forgive River reminded you of something important. Apologies and forgiveness stand alone. I would even end the letter forgiving myself here if I wasn’t trying to garden my way into a new thought process, because there is nothing more irritating than a comma after I’m sorry or I forgive you. It reeks of “I feel your pain, but I didn’t cause it. It’s not my fault.”

I suppose it’s different in this case, because I already know I’m at fault.

I forgive you for trusting your abuser above all others. I forgive you for writing those letters, making those phone calls, visiting Portland. I forgive you for being old enough to have broken that relationship early, yet not having the wisdom. She told you she needed you at a time when few people did. She said that she was often older and not wiser. I forgive you for your abuser admitting to you that there were times when you were smarter than she was, and not even that gave you enough strength to cut the connection. I forgive the road not taken, where I was the sort of person where out of sight could become out of mind.

I forgive you for loving someone so hard that didn’t deserve it. I forgive you for wasting our precious energy. I forgive you because you were pliable enough to find diamonds in the rough, always. Out of great chaos came a calm that hasn’t been here before.

I can look back on those years with a little more light because the diamonds I’ve found continue to shine while the rest of the landscape has smoothed itself out.

I would not have wanted to miss meeting Dana and I realize that the connection never would have happened any other way. I would not have wanted to miss meeting anyone I met in Portland, and I never would have considered the Pacific Northwest at all otherwise. It was so far from Houston. Just impossible to get away for a weekend. It was a long haul for anyone in my biological family and that’s why I’ll never move back. I forgive myself for unintentionally isolating from my biological family, but it had been happening since I was 12. I don’t know another way of life because every time I move back to Texas, I am triggered by one of a thousand different things and I feel like I can’t breathe. I genuinely thought that having Dana with me in Houston would change the city for me, but it didn’t.

I moved to DC because I knew it was the one place that I knew I could run that wouldn’t damage my chances of getting back together with her, because at the time, I thought we needed therapy jointly and severally. I didn’t realize until later what a scary thought I’d had- running back to someone who had physically injured me was not smart. I prefer not knowing what would have happened had we’d both thought we’d find our way back to the other. I believed, six months later, that the advice not to go back to people who’ve hurt you was sound because the swings only get worse.

Though I’m devastated that the relationship ended, I am not sad that it happened or wish it had never begun. We had a terrible problem, and it’s something I’ve thought of over the years but was reminded of today. I was listening to “Don’t Ask Tig,” and Tig said that she and her wife realized that they couldn’t laugh all the time. That they had to go back and talk about an issue once it was less charged… that they’d laugh and sweep things under the rug. Tig acknowledged something important, though, which was that she and her wife were pretty good about getting out of heated situations because they were both hilarious.

Leslie, I forgive you for being subjectively hilarious. It was a great coping mechanism, it just went wrong because we didn’t get out our calendars and say that this or that issue was important and we were tabling it until X date… or sometimes we were, just not consistently enough.

I forgive you for creating another relationship that wasn’t in the room because you didn’t know how to live without one. I celebrate that you recognized the pattern.

It is a different relationship we are creating, you (plural) and me. Now you’re the only relationship I have that’s not in the room, and it’s not a secret. The only part that’s ever a secret is the time it takes to craft. Meaning that if I’m ever married again, it’s not like my partner won’t be able to read every word. They just don’t get to be with me while I’m writing. They get the same information you all do, mostly because it’s a big conversation to have with a partner. I forgive myself for the ways in which it affects others’ lives, both seen and unseen, because to constantly worry and predict makes me run away from writing at all.

And then the people who are mad generally forget why over time… that they came in my yard and made sure I knew what a terrible person I was for saying x or y, then have the audacity to ask why I don’t write anymore. It’s such a fine line in terms of revealing enough to be vulnerable and real in front of an international audience while at the same time, not making the people you love on the ground upset with your silly ramblings.

Zac reminded me of this the last time I saw him, but in a good way. He said, “I feel so much better after talking to you in person, because I’ve only read your blog.” I need to be better about making dates with people because sitting in front of them is so different than them reading about my life. I have a third dimension. There’s a lot in it that you miss, because I can only write one thought at a time, but I’m having 12.

I forgive myself for leaning too hard on the first two dimensions and not making as much of an effort as I should with the third. My goal in the new year is to get out more, even if it’s just going over to someone else’s house instead of mine.

All of this forgiveness has come with changed behavior, which is how I know it’s genuine.

Being genuinely yourself is all you ever need to be. I forgive you for overfocusing on people who think you’re too much and not enough on the people who know you’re just right. I forgive you for your constant need to be a fixer/pleaser even when the odds are stacked against you and you know you’re about to dual a windmill.

I forgive you for your crazy, quixotic life, because it doesn’t need forgiving.

I know you’re in such a vulnerable place, probably more open, hurt, and raw than you’ve been in years. Do not surrender your loneliness so quickly. Let it season you. Hafiz has whispered that into your ear since the 90s. Don’t give up on it now. There is a difference between being alone and being lonely. But Hafiz did not specify “me time.” It’s time to forgive yourself for thinking that there’s always a combination of words that will unlock someone.

That surely you can apologize enough, make enough amends, and if it hasn’t happened, it just hasn’t happened yet.

It’s an indomitable spirit and deeply troubling all at once, because there’s nothing in your heart that says “this situation is untenable.” I forgive you for not getting up from the table when love was no longer being served… and recognize that your feelings are valid. You wanted to try. You did… for way too long and with way too much energy, but it wasn’t all bad. Never mistake the part for the whole, and I forgive you for the moments you were so angry you couldn’t see anything but red.

The anger had a purpose. You can’t walk away from people unless you’re angry. You had to get angry enough to leave, and it took so many more years than it needed to simmer.

I forgive you for hurting the one you love the most, because even though it’s not the same for her, you still hurt her.

Now go, and forgive everyone else as I have forgiven you.


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