For You

I hadn’t expected to ever write this out, you know. But for the past week it’s been bothering me every single day, even if I didn’t realize it. And so here I am, just after midnight, writing you a letter to say this:

I forgive you.

It’s taken nearly five years to reach a point where I can say that and mean it. I’m not sure if that’s a testament to the damage you’ve done or to my own stubbornness. Probably a bit of both, I’d venture.

A wise man recently told me, “Forgiveness doesn’t mean forgetting. Forgiveness requires remembering, and in remembering, deciding it doesn’t matter any more.” I realized that I’d reached that point with you when he said that, and right there, I started crying. It was something unexpected, and I found myself at once embarrassed and slightly angry – both of them because of how long it has taken me to understand.

I ran into an old friend of ours at a wedding reception for her sister. Her hair’s not as red as it used to be, and I didn’t recognize her at first – thankfully she still recognized me. She’s doing well. Their whole family is. She mentioned my writing, and that’s what got me thinking – in spite of all of the reasons to write that I’ve found, I keep putting it off.

It made me realize how much time I’ve wasted these past years holding on to being angry, and that it’s that anger that’s kept me from writing, because, much as I know I shouldn’t be, sometimes I still am.

There’s the friendships you destroyed and bridges you burned. There’s the damage done to my family. There’s the hurt at being completely helpless on the other side of the continent as they suffered. But above all that there’s the loss of trust, and my own refusal to trust again.

I think I’ve burnt more bridges in my own inability to trust than you ever could have, and that’s part of what’s made me so angry – not that I let it all get to me, but that I felt helpless to not let it get to me. I felt like an observer watching my own life fall apart, and now I’m living with the wreckage.

And so a lot of that anger was really directed at myself, much as I told myself it was at you, and blamed my problems, my social anxieties, my refusal to see old friends, my inability to make new ones, and my constant self-defeating behavior in virtually every aspect of my life on you.

I often told myself, “There’s no point in dating someone if it just means dragging them into the train wreck that is my life,” – it’s hard to love someone else when you’re having trouble finding a reason to love yourself and your own life, and on top of that having trouble finding a reason to trust them at all. And so I blamed it on the fallout of everything you and your family did.

I don’t blame you any more though. It’s pointless, really. Assigning blame doesn’t change anything. It’s only been a convenient way for me to have a crutch to keep me crippled. Blame doesn’t fix anything. It doesn’t make things better, or even anything close to right. It just makes you bitter.

So here’s me forgiving you. Maybe one day you’ll really stop and see the awful magnitude of what you did. Somehow, though, I doubt it. And more than anything, that makes me feel sorry for you, because, “at some point, all of us must sit down to a banquet of consequences”.

I certainly hope that I’m wrong, and being able to say that and mean it is something that truly surprises me. But I’ve been surprised before by stranger things, so maybe I am wrong.

If you were looking for some sort of pithy lessons and sage advice in all of this, or for answers to some deep question, well, I have none to give. I don’t expect you to ever read this – in fact, I don’t particularly care whether you do or not; I’m writing this for me, not you.

This is just me being honest and open about where I am. Maybe someone somewhere will find something in all of this of use to them – that’s the only reason I’m sharing this: so others can learn from my mistakes, and forgive early and often.

I remember. but it doesn’t matter any more, and so I’m letting go now. I’d rather be happy and go on living my life.

Goodbye and good luck,
Mark

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