Friday, September 28, 2012
Forgiveness Tastes Like Chicken - a Blog Post in Which I Use the Word Fvck
You can't stay angry with children, puppies, or Sarah Silverman.
Sarah may break things, pee on your carpet or say something inappropriate, but then she will go on to hug you, lick your face and say something insightful. Children and puppies might do those things, too.
The anger of being treated unjustly has the potential to devour your soul.
This week, I've learned so much about forgiveness and acceptance. Tomorrow is the memorial service of a friend who died because there was something more powerful in this world than his will. Poor Friend Of Mine drank himself to death. I believe there is a point (read about it somewhere in some article - was it The Times, DeLisa?) when a person who drinks heavily loses the ability to choose. The alcohol takes over and you lose the ability to understand that it will kill you, that it will rob you of tomorrow - that day when things will get better - that day when you're really going to try this time. Poor Friend Of Mine died alone, the night before checking in to rehab. Poor Friend Of Mine left behind a most precious daughter, a lovely woman, and many beautiful pieces of photography. I can't stay angry with Poor Friend Of Mine Who Drank Himself To Death. What good does that do me?
Just as I cannot stay angry with him, I cannot stay angry with anyone, including my own self.
And here it comes - the Daddy Issue Blog begins, folks.
I've come to accept in the last few weeks the reason I fell in love with Earl and stayed loyally glued to him through all the hell that was his sexual addiction and our marriage. Drum roll please, in case no one has figured it out . . . I wanted my father's love, something I will never have. As a cheap substitute I sought (and found in every man I ever fucked) the roguish qualities of my dad. Smart, funny, entitled, cruel, distant, manipulative, charming in public, cold in private, and the world's biggest under-achiever. Finding Earl was the Daddy Jackpot. He fit the bill perfectly, and I fell for him hard.
I was so angry as a child. My father was very cruel to my mother and indifferent to me. He was a bastard to my sister and a bully to my brother. Every night he would shout at my mother for hours, and my mother would sometimes fight back, sometimes take the haranguing in silence. Whether she spoke up or not, I would sit listening, perched like a little bird on the banister at the top of the stairs. In my mind I would formulate arguments against my father. He would yell at my mother for some ridiculous, trumped up nothing. My mother's response was never adequate in my opinion. I would think to my self, "Tell him THIS, Mom! Tell him THAT!" I was Burgess Meredith to her Rocky, urging her on in the ring even though she was the underdog.
My parents divorced when I was 13 and I could not understand why my mother was so miserable; I could not understand why she wanted my father back, why she said she still loved him. I was so relieved to have him gone from my life. And he was gone. I don't think I saw my father more than 5 times over the subsequent two years. But those two years of transition and relative tranquility went by quickly and then BAM! Universe. BAM! WHAM!SMACK-UPSIDE -THE- HEAD! My mother died. Relatives swooped into town to hold the children together. My father showed up for the funeral and put on a bit of a show about how important his children were to him. The whirlwind of grief overwhelmed me. All I could do was eat and sleep. I can't remember much else except the freezing cold winter weather and the relatives who said they'd be there for me. But as the weeks went by they disappeared one at a time. My father went back to Ohio never to be heard from again. My sister went back to college. My uncles flew home to their businesses and wives. My aunt and grandmother stayed on a little while longer, but soon my aunt had to go back to her own brood of teens. And no one was left behind except my grandmother One month after my mother had died, the last standing grownup went home, too. So there we were, my brother and I, 15 and 17 years old. And we stayed in the house that had never once been a loving home.
Another day, another blog, I may be able to write about that grief, but right now I can only say that the two years I spent alone after my brother left for college were indeed lonely and sad. And all I could do was pretend that I wasn't. If anyone knew how alone I truly felt, how scared and sad I was, they would leave me forever. So I just kept telling any grownup that asked how I was that I was okay. After all, that's what they wanted to hear.
I thought that everything would be all right if my father was gone. I struggled as a child and a teen to forgive him, but I couldn't come to any conclusion about how to forgive someone that didn't think they needed forgiveness. I didn't know how to forgive someone that wasn't sorry.
So instead I forgot him.
And that is the foundation on which I tried to build a life.
Friends, you cannot forget people. They will fester inside of you and poison you. Instead, you must forgive. Now that I've gone through all this crap with Earl and Ashley's affair and the demise of my marriage, I can tell you that I cannot simply forget these people. I must accept and forgive all of us. Because if I don't, I am doomed to repeat the grief and anger of my childhood once more. I would be destined to be consumed by my anger.
The anger that I carried around all these years devoured bits of my soul. It took away pleasure and potential and joy and left me with doubt and fear and emptiness. So I must forgive and I must accept everything that has happened to me. The pain is, in part, my own making. It is, however, the way of human beings to make mistakes with one another. Sometimes people will be sorry and work towards making amends, and other times they will not.
Here's the trick - It doesn't matter what the other person does.
Forgiveness comes from you.
Forgiveness is FOR you.
Poor Friend Who Drank Himself to Death could not find forgiveness, and pretty soon the poison that killed him felt better than the life he could potentially achieve. The switch got flipped and the booze was more important than the life.
The same thing can happen with anger. I lived for my anger with Earl. But luckily he wanted out. And now I can see that all that anger and grief tasted the same. It all tastes like chicken.
I want to feast on the other feelings of life. And to do so I must accept. I must forgive. Forgiveness is the only place in which I can find my own freedom.
Congratulations. You've made it to the end of this very long blog post. Here, have a cookie. (It tastes like love.)