Tag: moving forward

Forgive my water, full of sin.

I unpublished this post a few days ago.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.

I want.

I want.

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 wanted.

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.


41 and 18 are Very Good Numbers

I turned 41 years old today.  Turning 41 is infinitely better than turning 10.  Or 20.  Or 35.  Thirty five was a very stupid year for me.  Also incredibly painful what with breaking my acetabulum (first bone I ever broke) and then getting a colposcopy immediately followed by a biopsy.

I have to say that while 40 has had some pretty intense challenges it has also been a year of breaking through, pulling up, lightening up, growing strength, and some real fun.  I am physically stronger than I was a year ago by quite a lot- I’m not much thinner (I gained back some of what I lost 6 months ago) but I can do full push-ups for the first time in years.  I can kick higher and stronger, I can punch harder and tighter, I can do things now that I couldn’t do when I was 35.  I can do things now that I couldn’t do when I was 84 pounds lighter.

That’s another great choke-hold released this year: changing my medications last June was absolutely one of the best things I did all year and I can thank my family physician for taking such good and thoughtful care of me.  Proper medication for people with lifelong clinical depression and anxiety is essential to overall health.

The result is that now when I take care of my body and stop drinking so much beer and eating so much damn cheese and get my ass moving with exercise- my body actually responds, just as it should.  I lost 20 pounds last year and then in the last few months of slacking off on in my self discipline I gained back 12 pounds.  I’m not panicking.  I’m not depressed.  I am responsible for that weight gain.  Me.  Not my medications.  I have gone without beer for three days, no cheese besides a modest amount of feta, eaten really well, no snacking that wasn’t a piece of fruit… the result is that in three days I lost 2 pounds.

That’s how my body used to react before Paxil.  If I put in the effort and the time exercising, eating well, and not snacking on cheese and crackers late at night, I lose weight.  For the last three years this was not true.  I would work hard and see NO results.  In fact, I would work hard and then gain weight.  I would give up for a while, and gain weight.  Then I would pull myself up again and work even harder, and gain weight.  Never lose.

It’s difficult to maintain your energy, your motivation, and your will to even try when you see NO results.  I didn’t expect anything spectacular at any point.  Just that I would see some small progress.

Now my body is doing exactly what it should be doing when I reduce my daily calories for three days by about a thousand a day and get a total of two hours of exercise in that same time- shedding a couple of pounds.

This, my peoples, this is an incredible thing to me.

Can you imagine how amazing and strong my kicks could be if I wasn’t lugging around this extra 84 pounds?

My intention for this year is to get down to 200 pounds and get my blue belt in Kung Fu.  This year I actually have a chance of achieving that goal.

I’m going to finish my first novel this year too.  There is a contest going on between Penguin Books, Creative Space, and Amazon for a breakout novel and I’m going to enter it.  I have nothing to lose and it will at the very least start preparing me for the other thing I have to do this year: start querying publishers and literary agents.

I really truly deeply suck at making pitches so if anyone can coach me on that I will not say no to help.  I need to learn to make a fantastic pitch.  This is the equivalent of selling stuff and you all know my mad selling skills.

I know a lot of people have ideas about what they’re going to have accomplished by certain ages but I think that might be too much pressure.  There are no time limits on what you can accomplish in your life, except for death itself.  As long as you’re not dead you can achieve amazing things at almost any age.  I know people perceive time limits such as having to have children before the egg factory closes up, but if you really truly want children because you want them in your life you can adopt a child at almost any age provided you can show you can care for them.  You might want to become a marathon runner but then you aged and got rheumatoid arthritis, it’s not too late.  Did you know that?  You can race in wheel chairs.  You can do sports in wheel chairs.

My cousin Nick is a paraplegic from a snow boarding accident.  A lot of people would just give the hell up on themselves.  He was only in his early twenties.  The Christmas letter I got from my cousins this year had a picture of Nick skiing in his wheel chair.

For the person who is willing to let their desires change shape to fit with reality, there is no limit to what you can do.

Most unhappiness, I think, comes from expectations we develop about who we’re supposed to be, what we should be able to accomplish, and not being willing to find creative ways to fulfill our desires and dreams when life has changed us irrevocably.  I don’t believe in miracles.  I do believe in determination and flexibility.

Today is also my 18th wedding anniversary.  I am going to share with you all my number one tip for a good relationship:

Don’t keep score.  If you’re keeping score on hurts, insults, annoyances, inadequacies, arguments, bad decisions, or anything else- you’re relationship is corrosive.  You may not think so now, but it is and eventually it will either implode or slowly sicken you both with unhappiness.

So don’t do it.

Who said what or did what last year doesn’t matter.  If you care that much about who said what last year or last month or last week then you are stuck in a ditch and need to get the hell out.  Let go of it.  What matters is what YOU say or do next.  Those bad moments need to be dealt with within a very short period of time and then let go of.

If you keep bringing up how your spouse disappointed you in the past it’s like sticking a needle in their heart over and over.  You have not got over things and if you haven’t it means you haven’t got what you need from your spouse and that needs to be addressed.  If your spouse is incapable of giving you what you need, then you need to end the relationship.

What I’ve noticed is that a lot of couples who keep score don’t ever really tell each other what they need in the first place.  Most people cannot read each other’s minds.  What I’ve noticed a lot of couples do is to drag their mutual baggage around for years and assume that if their spouse can’t SEE what the matter is without being told then they are just that much deeper in the shit-hole they’ve both spent so much time digging.

Score-keeping is toxic.

A lot of people do it.  A lot of couples I know do it.

Another thing is that it really does take two to make a relationship either good or bad.  If it’s good then it’s because both of you are working at it, maintaining it, and putting your best into it.  If it’s bad it’s both of you.  If you are constantly complaining about your spouse and every day are annoyed and finding them not living up to your standards then either your standards are for fictional people only, OR (and this is way more likely) you aren’t living up to theirs either.  If you are deeply unhappy with your marriage it is absolutely just as much your responsibility as theirs.  You contribute to it just the same.

The only situation in which I see anything even slightly skewed from what I have said above is in an abusive relationship.  But here the hard truth is hardest of all and always sounds unkind but the truth is that adults who are in abusive relationships and stay in them are contributing to that relationship as well.  Allowing someone to abuse you continually is giving them permission, it is being complicit.  Children have no power to leave abusive situations but adults do.  If you’re in an abusive situation then you have to get out.  And then you need to stop choosing abusive partnerships.  To be clear: I’m not saying there is ever a situation where a person DESERVES to be abused.  I am only saying that everyone is personally responsible for the relationship choices they make.  If you find you were mistaken in your partner and didn’t know they were abusive, you must get out.  Staying in the relationship will not fix the abuser and it will only further hurt yourself.  You most likely need therapy to work on your self esteem and to learn what a healthy relationship is.  But mostly you need to not stay because staying is being complicit with abuse.

I have learned a lot about maintaining a relationship and one of the biggest things I’ve learned and continue to work on all the time is looking at myself every time I point a finger at Philip.  I may be unhappy with something he’s done but a lot of the time there is something I’ve done that has contributed to a misunderstanding or a piece of unhappiness.  I have to be willing to honestly look at how I’m treating him all the time because what I do, how I treat him, and what kind of spouse I’m being is what I have the most control over.

Listening is also very very important.  Talking to each other.  And listening.

People say I’m lucky to have “found” Philip.  There really wasn’t a lot of luck involved so I always get annoyed.  Good partners don’t drop into your lap from the sky.  You have to be able to see a person beyond your hormonal reaction to them.  “Finding” a good partner is about recognizing one when you see one and going for it.

So I’m 41 and been married 18 years and have a 10 year old son and am writing the second draft of my first novel.

Plus I have a great right hook.

If I die today I will be happy with what I’ve accomplished and not worry about all the things I haven’t yet achieved like: being really rich, being published, living in Scotland, becoming a Canadian, keeping my house, getting my old pink house back, or being a black belt in Kung Fu.

Those are the things I will keep working at until my time runs out or I achieve them and have new goals and hopes.

I can’t know how this next year is going to unfold but I’m not scared.