It’s almost like an epiphany in a way — to stumble blindly upon this realization: Even though I’ve battled — and continue to battle — each and every one of the so-called Seven Deadly Sins damn near every day for my 42 years on Earth, the very thing that has held me back and driven me to the brink of unthinkable madness more than anything else is actually an odd and complicated cocktail of all seven of those suckers served up in a steaming beaker of toil and trouble.
I’m talking about forgiveness.
Or my lack of it, to be honest.
I am gunning my engines these days. Like almost anybody who finds themselves dealing with a shattered love affair, I keep trying to put as much of the past behind me as possible. I keep darting my eyeballs in and out of my rear-view as I push the pedal to the damn floor, trying to outrun the fact that you can’t outrun a broken heart, man. No matter how much you try, you have to deal with reality when love is over.
And, dude, it’s so hard.
And it sucks so badly.
But I’m starting to understand that total and utter forgiveness is the only way through it. The ONLY way. And by forgiveness, I’m not just talking about forgiving your ex for the fact that they cheated on you 38 times with your BFF, or that there was physical abuse, or that they spent your meager joint savings on pain pills or whatever. The forgiveness I’m referring to isn’t about granting your ex some sort of condescending merciful wave of the magic wand, either. In fact, that’s got very little to do with the benefits of forgiving.
On the contrary, in my humble opinion, the kind of forgiveness we’re getting at here is the kind in which you need to come to terms with the fact that so very often, YOU were guilty as hell of the type of narrow-minded judgment and preconceived expectations that are, I would guess, at the root and core of probably three-quarters of all the modern break-ups happening.
Let me put it this way: As far as I can make out, my own marriage wasn’t marred by anything big when it comes to the Seven Deadly Sins. There wasn’t any cheating or beating or child abuse or drug abuse or alcoholism or chronic unemployment or anything like that all swirled into our daily lives. But now that I’m not with her anymore, and now that we’ve lived apart for the better part of a year, I’ve had some time to evaluate what went wrong from a cliff high above the thing. That has allowed me to slowly come to terms with the fact that what I think did us in more than anything else was an overriding inability to accept one another for who we are.
That may sound extremely stupid, I know, but hear me out, will you? See, I’m thinking that there is a real element of bold stupidity involved in so many break-ups these days. And that stupidity is usually slathered in this selfish tendency that so many of us are possessed by (possessed!). If you ask me, I think the tedium and discontent and growing apart so often found in broken marriages is a direct result of the fact that a lot of us want things to be better, no matter how good, or even “okay” things may be. We want what we want within our unions, and we dream of it happening, and guess what? When it doesn’t happen, which is most of the time, our natural human self-centeredness kicks in (call it a survival mechanism if you must, but c’mon …) and we end up growing the high and twisted weeds of bitterness and resentment down in our guts, all over our hearts.
And THAT, people, is where the forgiveness problem begins to rear its grotesque head. Because we think we’re right. And more than likely, your partner or spouse thinks they’re right, too. In the middle of a life of togetherness, we shift back towards the very thing that has always kept us alive: our endless need to put ourselves first. Think about that for a second. We are raised knowing that if we don’t eat the food on our own plate, if we let someone else eat it instead, we will go hungry. And being hungry sucks. Then, later on, we figure out that if we want money or sex or shelter or a family, we’ve got to get up off of our asses and make it happen. We envision a vision and we act on it.
Then, we throw someone else into the mix and everything we’ve ever known and practiced, and I mean EVERYTHING, gets way screwed up.
Love, for all of its rare and wonderful qualities, for all of its life-affirming lift and empowerment, is still the most human aspect of life on Earth. It’s probably the last little thing keeping us from just muttering, “F-it!’ and climbing back up into the treetops to rejoin our Chimpanzee brethren. Yet, it is also the part of our lives most riddled with juvenile thought and action. We are constantly hurt by love, even when we’re in love. Or maybe I should say, especially when we’re in love. So, for me at least, slowly coming to terms with the fact that even though I thought I knew how to love someone with everything I had inside me, I didn’t know s@!t. I just did what I always did and wanted what I have always wanted, for things to go the way I wanted them to go. That’s what happened to my ex-wife too, I think. I can’t speak for her and I don’t pretend to, but that’s my educated guess.
We wanted what we wanted, and although what we wanted was more or less the same thing, we allowed the specifics of our visions to outshine the collective trip we were on together. I liked to sleep with a box fan on, my ex hated that. I liked to give the evil eye to slow drivers when I passed them, my ex hated that. And she had things about her, little things that added up, that I didn’t like either. Then when we’d address them, instead of laughing about our own weirdness, we’d become defensive and say things to each other that we didn’t even mean, hard things/rotten things that added up down the years.
We could have done better, I just know it. We could have maybe run up on this thing called forgiveness long ago and I believe it would have made a vast difference in how things turned out. We could have learned to forgive the fact that someone else, the very person we were sharing life with, wasn’t always linked up with our own particular vision of how each and every thing in life was supposed to be going down. Then, with a lot of mental adjustment and maybe a healthy dose of mindfulness, we could have forgiven ourselves eventually for being such asses for so long.
You can’t love someone completely when you can’t forgive them for being themselves.
And now, knowing that we’re apart, the only thing holding me back from moving on with my own life, well, it’s still the same old thing. I need to forgive her for not loving me anymore. And I need to forgive my own damn self for not understanding all of this crap back when it might have made the difference.
Live and learn, my friend.
Live and friggin’ learn.
Image: flickr.com/photos/pasaMore On