This will be the last post in this little piece of my life I refer to as my “recovery.” We’ll be moving on to other subjects, other moments in my life, other things to say about the world I live in. But, I felt I needed to conclude this particular chapter with a desire for forgiveness.
I guess one of the last steps in being an adept of growth is to not only forgive others, but to also forgive yourself.
We all know that as simplistic as the concept is, you’re never going to love anyone, let alone yourself, if you don’t forgive yourself, too.
But, it’s far too easy to blanket someone that has wronged you, or hurt you, or pained you with a generalized issue of reprieve. That means nothing to anyone because it doesn’t get to the core of why they should be forgiven, or even why you should forgive yourself, too. You have to be specific. Otherwise it’s likely the patterns of harm you’ve always been forgiving will never stop….unless you specifically say why. Why do I need to forgive myself? For what reason? What specifically have I done to myself that I need to apologize for.
However, the important caveat of this whole deal with wanting to make yourself whole again is that you have to ask for forgiveness from those you feel you’ve wronged. And I imagine a pile of people fall head first into a list they’ve already penned onto a piece of paper.
But, strangely, I have but three people I need to ask forgiveness….
I need to ask my father for forgiveness….for not seeing when he was asking for mine. We hadn’t spoken very much in years. I was now about 33 years old and was told by his wife that he was in the hospital, not well, and that if I wanted to say goodbye to him, I should go ahead and make plans to come back to Savannah.
I didn’t just dash up to Savannah to the hospital to see him, I moved my entire life to be by his side if he should need me. Hell, I wrote a whole book about it 10 years ago.
The dynamics between us were now different. We weren’t father and son. We were two adult men getting to know each other for the first time. And I’ll be damned if I didn’t fall in love with the bastard. He never had an unkind word to say about me. He would introduce me to his friends and say with this enthusiastic glee, “This is my son, the one I was telling you about, the writer. You should read some of his stuff. This boy is a damned fine writer. I’m very proud of my boy. Very proud.” Then he’d clutch my shoulder.
“Boy.” I heard it, too. He was trying to tell that little boy that he hurt so badly, “I am so sorry. I was wrong….so wrong.” Rather than doses of instant admonishment felt by the back of his hand, he doled out infinite compliments with the wealth of his praise. And I was grateful, but I just couldn’t forgive him.
I ask my mother for forgiveness….for not seeing when she was asking for mine. We’ve stayed in constant contact throughout the years. She has come to visit Phillip and I often. Phillip and I had her on our youtube show a few years ago, and those two episodes were some of the best. But, she has tried many times, over and over, to give me something of a more involved life, a more concerned and interested life that she didn’t give me when I was a boy. She tries very hard to protect me now, even though she didn’t then. She would introduce me to her friends and say, “This is my son, I was telling you about his knit teddy bears. He does beautiful work. Oh! And you should see his crochet!” When she said that, I’d see her look at me with these eyes that desperately tried to say, “I’m trying…..I’m really really trying to make things better than I did before.” And I was grateful, but I just couldn’t forgive her.
And now, I ask myself for forgiveness…for not having forgiven them sooner. I could have avoided years and years of self loathing and hurt, because I could have shoveled that buried resentment up years ago, weeded it out, tossed it into the trash, burned it even. My life may have been easier had I forgiven them and moved on with my life much earlier. But, who can really say? If it had been easier, I wouldn’t have been blessed with the most loving husband anyone could have, a little home to live in, and our three cat kids at the ready for a purring cuddle should we feel down…..like now.
I would rather have this life, than other potential possibility you can think of. You can say I could have had anything in life I wanted had I not been burdened with the bruises of a bad boyhood. But, I do have the one thing I wanted: to be loved. Despite everything that happened as a child….in some wild, strange, mea culpic way, my parents love me….and always have. I don’t doubt that.
I forgive myself for realizing too late and with some tremendous guilt, that my parents knew they screwed up, and were doing their best to make it right decades later. They were just children when they had me, still just kids themselves….and were trying to act like adults while still locked in their own resentful childhoods.
This hard and difficult road has blessed me…and I need to forgive myself for not seeing it sooner, for harboring too many things that should have, could have, might have been resolved had they been addressed earlier…..but, then again. I wouldn’t have this beautiful life I have now.
I forgive myself for wishing I had been someone else, wishing I had a different life….both then and now. I forgive myself for not realizing God brought me to this place in my life, right now, for a reason that I have fully begun to understand: “Gregory? You’re not going to have a happy life if you don’t let go of all that hate and love yourself. All the beauty that this life, your life has to offer is going to be overshadowed by a dismal bleakness that keeps that little boy locked in the past. The only bridge to loving yourself now, is to finally learn to truly forgive….So, do you love yourself?”
The only reason I paused when asked to answer was so that I could just breathe and soak it all in for a moment. Otherwise, there would have been absolutely no hesitation.
With a quiet breath, it was said aloud with nothing other than a cat, myself, and the Universe to hear. “I do love myself.”
And funny….The Universe said, “No, no. Don’t tell me, tell yourself.”
It took a moment. I even went to the mirror, stared at those big, brown eyes of mine and hesitated. I stopped, ready and willing, but I caught my face in the mirror wilt with fear. And as those sad eyes stared back I saw that little boy, so timid, so hurt, so ready to be free, hiding just behind the glare. Oh, those eyes! I remember staring into those same eyes when I was a little boy. Saw him crying in the mirror and saying, “I wish I was dead….”.
I started crying and started blurting out through a bubble of tears, “I…love you.”
I breathe deeper. and say it again, stammering to speak, damned if I turn my eyes away.
“I love you….. I love you…. Oh, my God, I can’t believe I just said that! Oh, you beautiful sad, little man. I love you so much!” Tears were streaming down my face, coating with a glistening shine of happy, twinkling tears one of the biggest smiles you’ve ever seen.
That heavy pressure on the brow, that clenched jaw, that sad, lowered posture, that dimness about me, was all gone…hurdling into hell, never to come back again.
It was over. The whole sordid ordeal, constantly running over and my over in my head, suddenly ceased. There was no need to be afraid anymore. There was no need to relive it anymore. I can finally move forward….
I feel so much better. I really do. I dried my eyes and smiled like I haven’t in a long while.
I don’t think I could have gotten here without you. I can’t thank you enough. From the bottom of my heart….thank you for helping me find my light. It took an abundance of love from all of you to help heal me. I thank you so much from the bottom of my heart.
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