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.


How to Even Tag This One…..

I haven’t heard anything from Blackboard, and I’m starting to get very frustrated, because of all the companies I could work for in all the world, this is where I straight up belong. Helping Scott and Andrew set up the Academic Technology Support Center at University of Houston was one of the greatest years of my life. Scott even sent me to University of Minnesota for a WebCT conference, complete with nine inches of fresh snow on the ground, and I learned more in that one weekend than I did in five weeks of trying to teach myself. At first I thought I’d end up becoming an instructional designer myself, and got to do a little bit of that with Evangelinux and again going out on my own with Udemy.

I haven’t posted anything to Udemy yet, and will let you know when it’s available, because I have an issue I need to clear up first. I have to figure out how to evade online pirates, who will download your videos and take your course for free, offering it to others through direct download and torrenting.

If I can’t figure out how to do it on their server, I might be interested in offering it on my own. To do that, though, I’d have to move to a real server space rather than WordPress.com, because apart from a small donation button, they will not allow you to make money. I understand- they’re giving you server space for free. If I moved to another server, I’d be able to have more control with scripting, etc., plus be able to use things like Google AdWords. Now, you don’t make much with Google AdWords, but at the same time, you make more than if you can’t use it at all.

The idea of the course is Linux for beginners, using desktop recording software and voice overs. I have more than one idea, because I think people need to know how to use the command line, because typing is so much faster than searching through menus to get simple things done. The second idea is talking about replacements for all the software you really need. For instance, it is just not worth the cost to spend money on Windows, Office, PhotoShop, etc. when similar tools are available for free, and often open source, so that if you’re a programmer, you can customize everything to what you need with no legal penalty… even with Linux itself. Microsoft is just beginning to get on the open source bandwagon, and there is no way they’ll ever release the entire source code for any of their flagship products.

Quick tip for PhotoShop users… there’s an open source image software called GIMPShop (a mashup of Gnu Image Manipulation Program and PhotoShop) that changes all your keyboard shortcuts to the same ones you’d use in PhotoShop, therefore cutting the learning curve in half. Maybe I should have saved that for my own tutorial, but there you have it. The first one’s free.

I only lasted a year at the ATSC because I was promoted again to Internet/Intranet Developer II. Back then, it was so much easier to be a web developer because we were writing all our own code from scratch rather than having to make our web pages talk to databases, one of the major changes in web development over the years. Cascading Style Sheets were about as sophistocated as we got. For those who have no idea what I’m talking about, it’s a file that you reference that is similar to creating styles in Microsoft Word. Basically, you separate out all the content from the formatting and put the formatting in this one file that works across all the pages in a particular site. That way, if you want all your headings to be in a larger/different font, you change one file rather than manually having to change every heading on every page… which, back in the day, was as excruciating as it sounds.

This is another reason to change to my own server space, because on WordPress.com, all the fonts and everything are controlled by the theme. If I upgraded to WordPress premium or whatever, I’d have complete control of ALL THE THINGS. But I still wouldn’t be able to do everything that needs to be done in terms of protecting myself from illegal downloads…. or as much as I can, anyway. Surely there’s got to be some kind of Digital Rights Management for personal web sites… which wouldn’t stop a hacker if they were really dedicated, but would definitely stop the lazy ones.

But for most of you, this post is probably unbearably boring, because you don’t want to hear about WebDev and all that computer crap. You come hear to learn about what I’m doing and how I’m feeling and how I’m interacting with others, along with how I’m dealing with soul-sucking grief.

The short answer is that I’m not.

I’m burying myself in trying to find a job, trying to push myself to create my own courses to have income I don’t have to watch, anything to get away from having to think or feel anything that doesn’t have to do with business. I have done so much feeling and thinking about everything that I’m getting tired of it. I’m tired of feeling down ALL THE FUCKING TIME. I’m tired of feeling that I don’t deserve joy because I am enmeshed in grief. I am tired of feeling guilty when I receive said joy because I am “supposed to be” in mourning.

I am tired of worrying about what Dana & Argo and anyone else I’ve pissed off thinks and turning my attention to those who do show up. Because honestly, what good is it doing me? They’re never coming back and it is wasted energy all the way around. I’ll never be able to say enough, do enough, be enough to erase the hardship I’ve caused both of them. “You’ll never amount to anything” and “we’ll never be normal” are beginning to be it for me. I say “beginning” because it’s just my personality to overthink and overworry and carry that shit around for years on end… because not only do I owe them a hell of a lot more from me than they got, they’ve stopped listening and they did a long time ago. Even when I am being dead-level honest, they don’t believe it, anyway. It’s not my job to judge whether they should believe me or not. That’s their decision, one in which I’ll never have control (and shouldn’t). But what I can do is try to stop thinking about it, try to stop caring so damn much, try to love them in a loopback that feeds me and keeps me going rather than expending energy trying to “win” them back. I can’t undo or redo the past, but I can take the lessons I learned and turn them into something beautiful in their names… because I cannot and will not forget the gifts they gave me along the way. It was a long road to stop thinking about all the negativity and toxicity and just breathe, taking in the wonder of their prayers and presence while I had it.

Just because I erupted and crazy spatter and emotional vomit rained all over them due to forces I thought were literally beyond my control doesn’t mean that I don’t take full responsibility for it. Notice that I said “forces I thought were beyond my control.” They weren’t. I just didn’t have any coping mechanisms and everything I was feeling made me go off like a loose cannon, saying and doing things completely contrary to who I am, because my emotional abuse lasted so long that when I finally accepted it and started moving on, there were….. casualties. I said things I’ll never be able to take back, acted in ways I never thought I’d be capable.

Because I had no way to stop it at the time, everything that was heaped upon me was heaped upon them… mostly because I couldn’t confront the person with whom I was really angry…. and it isn’t as if I didn’t try. I tried with a passion I’ve never felt before or since. It left me full of despair and rage for which I had no safe outlet, and chose the most unsafe of all…. two people who loved me beyond all reasonable measure… or at least it seemed that way to me, because I didn’t think I was worthy of that kind of love. It surpassed all my understanding…. and because I was not healthy, of course I chose to go after this dysfunctional, unstable, disaster of a relationship rather than relying on the healthy patterns I’d developed with Dana, and later with Argo. And, as all emotionally abusive relationships inevitably end, I blew up like a firecracker because it was SO UNFAIR.

It had never been fair, but I didn’t know any different. I wandered further and further from myself, my values, my personal compass as I tried to release the thunderstorm that had been raining on my head since 1990.

In the words of Dooce, it sucked and then I cried.

It sucks that I’ll never go back to that time in my life, because both relationships ended with our bridges burning in effigy. How could they not? At this point, it doesn’t and shouldn’t matter what I want, and they are two completely separate things in each relationship.

With Dana, it would be the ability to have stayed married through the storm, knowing it would pass once I returned to my old self. But you never go back to someone with whom you’ve had a physical fight. She started it and by God she was going to end it. I’ve never been hit harder in my life. I do blame myself for escalating things emotionally and not running away before it got physical… but I don’t blame myself for getting hit, trying to defend myself, and it ending….. poorly.

With Argo, it would be to erase the words that cut me like a knife, that “we’d never be normal.” It would be her contacting me as if everything was okay and yet, it was CLEARLY not. It would also be the chance to thank her in person for emotionally whipping my ass, because it got me back on the road to wholeness. It would be the chance to give and receive hugs that last a second longer, because it might do more good than an apology in black and white. It would be a chance to know the whole package rather than the people we presented to each other- only the sides of each other that we wanted the other to know. It could never be a do-over, but a begin-again. It would be to know forgiveness rather than remission.

For the non-Episcopalians, remission of sin is erasing it like it never happened. Forgiveness is recognizing the wrong and reconciling it.

I’m at a point in my life where I don’t want to cover anything up. I want my friends to love me even though I am hugely flawed, because I’d do the same for them.

I am starting to find those friends, or rekindle friendships that have been idle a long time. It is an important step in finding the next great love of my life, because if I can’t be a good friend, I can’t be a good partner.

As I rest and recover, though, there’s no place like localhost.