I unpublished this post a few days ago. I have my cowardice, never never forget that there is still so much I cringe to say, to share, so when you think I’m being “brave” remember that I say so much shit that freaks me the fuck out afterwards and haunts me and lives on the thin surface of my skin. A friend has reminded me that herein lies my power. Such as it is. This is the original meditation on forgiveness:
It is the easiest thing in the world to take my pain and paint a flag full of it, to unfurl it against a silver bullet sky, and wail into the pole of it. It is the easiest thing for me to hang onto that pole in a dance like a virtuous understudy to angels and know myself clean of sin. It is easy to stand up against it with all my starched fortitude and recite the sins of my community. No one will refute the easy claims I have to pain. Someone crushed my child stomach with a fist made of rage? There is no forgiving it! Someone split my lip? I will hold this against my heart for the rest of my living days! The names I have heard hurled at me from hazy corners where names fuse together in a herd of curses – I will never forget.
The glass bottles thrown at me from cars live in the wall of my heart where wounds never heal, where blood is raw and the band-aids are always wet with fresh injury. I wear it close like a cloak of judgement. If I let go, the evil in the world will crush against me until I wither into ash the wind blows across the Pacific ocean. I never let go.
The greatest gouge to my trust, to my skin is delivered by those I’m meant to trust. I am seven when every idea of safety dissolves over the covers of my dented Cinderella book, promptly thrown in the trash where all little girl dreams belong. The shadows don’t scare me. I can’t see. I’m too full of my outrage. I’m too full of my righteous tears to hear anything else. My hair is pulled up until it bleeds from the follicles, fists meet my stomach lightning fast with the kind of rage reserved for revenge. It’s blind fury, blind rage, blind love, blind everything. Nothing but sightless emotion assaulting me and there is nothing, there is no one, there is no time, there is no relief, there is only my flesh bending, my flesh hanging, my seven year old flesh bruising.
It was worse than all my flesh in pain to see my brother bruised. I could endure a thousand assaults, I could take that stomach blow again and again if only I could know his own skin was free from such battery. You think there are these unforgivable crimes against your flesh that you will carry with you forever. The truth is less available in the heat of your anger. The crimes against the flesh you love outside yourself is infinitely more egregious. The crimes against the flesh you love outside yourself is infinitely more complicated. To forgive such crimes takes an act of will, an act of infinite love that takes the flowering of a spirit to achieve.
All the language I have used to never forget, to never forgive, to never release, to never understand, to never move forward… it deceives me into a grave for myself. I don’t see the pit, the shovels, the eulogies. I have trained myself into a stupor of righteous indignation, of hatred, of determination to taste and cook this bitterness I’ve grown in the soil of my soul.
Forgiveness is food for spiritual growth. I know this. I deny this. I revolt against this. I want my anger intact. I want my calendar of revenge recognized. I want to map out the pain I will administer, like taxes you will pay.
I want your stomach to capsize in the undertow of my rage.
I want you to die. I want you to suffer before you die.
I want you to forgive my water, full of sin.
I wanted retribution. I wanted all the real bottles thrown at me to be thrown back.
I wanted all the punches I felt against my torso to bruise my attacker spiritually in the same muscles.
I wanted everyone who ever shaped my life with pain to feel it too.
I had the empty desire.
I cherished such empty longing for others to feel pain.
Because I couldn’t square myself with my own spirit.
Because I couldn’t forgive myself.
I didn’t want to forgive anyone anything I couldn’t forgive myself.
Therein lies the deepest hole.
I had to release the punches into the night. Into the dark basement where they belonged. No one will corroborate. It’s me against memory. These shattering, bruising, life altering experiences that I can never rewrite, they are what they are. Life has no do-overs.
At last I forgave my tears. I forgave how broken I was for so many years afterwards. I forgave myself even the tears I shed for my Cinderella book thrown in the trash. I forgave the punches because eventually I understood where they came from, old pain. Old abuse. Old rage.
It never left my skin. For years it was my self congratulatory forgiveness of myself that fueled my future. I moved forward with blind stains on my spirit. What had I, an indisputable victim, to forgive in others? What responsibility of mine was it to absolve others of their sins? What job of mine was it to understand the pain and rage of my of my attacker?
It never left my skin until I felt it grow corrupt in its desire for vengeance. It never left my skin until I painted the pole with my own self serving deceit.
I don’t know when the colors shifted, when the graves of my past rose up and gave speeches meant to impress my dreams. I remember feeling the pain of the soul-driving fist sometime in the early morning hours when the alley was full and my heart was empty above it. The corruption of others is our own corruption. The evils of our brothers and sisters is our own evil.
We are all connected by heart, by sinews, by blood, by intention, by secret wishes, by complicity, by objection, by skin, by hair. We are all connected to each other and it doesn’t matter if we like it or not.
Your sin is my sin. My sin is your sin.
Forgiveness is the only way forward. Forgiveness is the only way forward.
Are you without sin? Are you without fault? Are you without dark wishes floating in subcutaneous layers?
I am not.
Forgive my water, full of sin.
Forgive the floods that frequent my heart.
I forgive the fist to my seven year old stomach because I have compassion for those less fortunate in spirit than I am. I know the fist is acting in great pain, great personal pain, and it would love if it had learned how. I go back and find the heart to forgive.
Can’t you forgive? Can’t you find that place? Can’t you let go the pole of your abuse and understand your power?
Forgive my water, full of sin.
Forgiveness is the only way forward.
Forgive my water, full of sin. I forgive your drought, full of sin.
I forgive everything.
It’s the only way forward.