What About Forgiveness?

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I’ve been thinking a lot about the concept of forgiveness lately. I’m not sure I fully understand what it means or maybe I am on a journey towards getting a grip on the whole idea. I am sure that I have practiced it. And I am equally certain that I have been forgiven by others.

I have heard time and again of the importance of forgiveness as it frees you up to let go and move on. But I’m not quite in agreement with that advice.  We are told if we don’t forgive that we are holding onto a grudge or anger or allowing ourselves to continue to be a victim. No, no, no!

Forgiveness is a weighty matter and depends upon the circumstances of another’s transgressions.  It is equally dependent on whether the other party has sought to make amends, take responsibility for the pain caused to the aggrieved party or practice redemptive actions.

If someone has not actively done any of that, how can we really forgive? We can accept what has happened to us, grieve and live the pain for a bit and move on to a new and perhaps (if we are lucky) an even better life. I believe acceptance of what happened to us is not passive in nature at all. My current life is living proof of this fact as many of you who have been following me well know.

Here’s what I can do.  I can compliment my former spouse for making two good decisions in his life: marrying me and divorcing me.  Because he married me, I received two gifts that will last a lifetime and beyond: my sons. They are living proof of two decent human beings who understand life’s purpose and bring joy and steadfast love to their world.  Moreover, because he divorced me, I received a second chance at a better life. Everything that has happened to me, the experiences, the people, the places I have seen and the joy I have known would NEVER have occurred if he did not choose to go. Both my sons and I would have missed out on the riches that all these things have brought to our lives. Imagine that!

So here is what I can forgive: his inability to fundamentally commit to family life. The man just does not have the capacity because of his family of origin’s extreme dysfunction. His original wound has not healed. I have genuine sympathy for that young man who suffered because of one parent’s indiscretions. At the beginning of our life together, neither one of us would know the degree to which this informed our marriage. Over time it increasingly held me hostage and spilled over until it took the form of neglect as well as emotional and verbal abuse.

And that is what I cannot forgive yet.  Do I expect an apology? An acknowledgement?  Maybe. Or perhaps if I saw glimmers of hope in his relationship with our sons I could take that step. So far not so good.

In the meantime, I continue to live out loud. A free woman. Let loose from the chains of harsh criticism and passive aggressive behaviors. Walking lightly-some say floating- on this good earth.

 

Renewed Liberation

 

Haunting Thoughts…

Ruminations and Deliberations …

Affirmations of His Implosion 

His Dearth of Self-Examination 

And Unending Needs for External Gratification

Just  a Twisted Quest for Self Satisfaction

A Mere Existence

Never Present

My Fertile Heart

Unearthed

Revealed

A Treasure for Mine and Another’s own Good Keeping

My Soul once Secluded

Pummeled into Submission and Secrecy

Sings without Restraints and Restrictions

My Mind once Sculpted So as to Please

Unselfishly Speaks for Itself

 A Voice Resonating and Resounding

My Body Once Picked Apart

Used and Discarded

Now  a Scrumptious Delight in the Tender Hands of Another

Where once My Very Being was at Stake

Torn Asunder by the Winds of His Words

I Reemerge Retooled

One Righteous Babe

Ready for Reckoning

 

 

Tilting at Windmills, Still

Credit: observationdeck.io9.com

A reluctant visit

An obligated progeny

You don’t want to know, he said

The shirt a dead give away

A tidbit told

More evidence of the continued decline and aberration of your soul

The story spins

History repeats

You cannot connect

Instead you show and tell

Gifts for yourself that accent your wealth

While your heirs labor six days

Scrimping and saving

They are neither envious nor angry

Merely filled with abject apathy

And a lack of respect born only

through the silence of their responses

Your brackish bravado

Your quixotic quest to fill the hole in your soul

An obvious attempt to hide from yourself

and the endless moral lapses that once cast a pall and plague

over any who dared to trust you

Void of remorse

Spinning a prevaricating tale

Unaware, Unrelenting

in your pallid pursuits

Practicing your art of deception

with the vapid Senorita at your side

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Summer I’d Like to Forget

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#FWF Free Write Friday: Are You Up For This?

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I’ve been debating with myself as to whether it is even worth writing about a decade old story. I have alluded to it in poetry ( Hidden Hunger ,Witness ) but never in memoir.

It is difficult to admit that there was a time that my family went hungry.  The details of how we arrived at our sorry state are way too complicated and frankly, too boring. Here are the highlights:

  • Husband gets fired-not laid off- from six figure job.
  • Husband decides to start own business causing significant decrease in income.
  • Wife works part-time while in a year-long clinical graduate program.
  • Wife told that her job must now carry the benefits, cutting her measly salary in half.
  • Wife told that since her job does not pay in summer, she must get full-time work and the children can stay home alone all day without mom and dad.
  • Wife is not able to get full-time job but finds work that keeps her away from home for just a few hours.
  • Wife’s tiny wages go to food.
  • Wife eats less to save food for kids.
  • Husband squanders all savings  and other finances while secretly making major purchases.
  • Wife tells no one about situation even though her parents live just eight miles away and her brother thirteen.

I spent the summer of 2004 in a state of shock, or as a friend said “survival mode”.  I knew things would get better in the fall when my job resumed to a nearly full -time position. But the 12 weeks of empty bellies seemed endless. A wall of resistance and repudiation was put up by my husband. In his eyes it was my fault for not getting full-time work. Not his fault for getting fired and pursuing something that barely brought a paycheck in to pay bills.

I felt stuck. As summer turned into fall, a latent anger was born. I took it out on everyone but him at first but then it boiled over when I found out about another major purchase he had made. I went into therapy where I began to unravel the pieces of my situation as well as my marriage and more importantly, myself.

We never went hungry after that summer. I refused to have my sons experience that dull, hollow feeling that comes from not having enough to eat ever again. Their father never accepted responsibility for his decisions and instead continued to lay the blame on me. But for the  next summer and for all subsequent summers, I secured positions where I could make money and have my children productively occupied and supervised.

Life trucked on, the marriage ended, battles were waged and the three of us (as many of you know by now) have a wonderful, wonderful life. He lost us but we gained ourselves. I still worry about food and going hungry. I cannot have the refrigerator or cabinets or the pantry ever be empty. It triggers that feeling again.

The boys and I did talk about that time a few years ago. I apologized to them for what happened but they both said I did the best I could. They had come to understand the circumstances that caused the situation in the first place. It was just one of many moral violations committed by their father.

I eventually confessed to my family, who were at first angry that I did not come to them for help. I was too ashamed and I knew I would suffer the consequences of revealing the secret. It didn’t seem worth it at the time.

And do I have shame today? No, I let that go a long time ago. Although I was not conscious of it at the time, I was being abused. The blaming, the passive aggressive behavior, the snide remarks began in earnest that summer. They increased over time until I finally realized what was happening.

When one is in the midst of negativity and abusive behavior, it is nearly impossible to see a way out. One only wants the abuse to stop-not for the abuser to leave. Strange dichotomy but oh so true. Lucky for me, he left. But he still abused from afar in various ways. I only got stronger and my children got wiser.

We know how to feed our bellies and our souls. Loaves and fishes abound. Abundance is present. And we are very grateful.

Never let yourself be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one’s definition of your life; define yourself.

~Robert Frost

 

This was THE most challenging free write for me.  I really went back and forth as to whether I could write about it. Frankly, I didn’t want to. But sometimes you just have to put your muscle into it. It was NOT cathartic. It just had to be written and done with once and for all.

The Man in the Suit

 

Credit: retaingridus.deviantart.com

Dreaming

A premonition in my bones

Knowing our paths would cross

The hundred pounds of nails was removed today

Each purge of your physical reminders lessens the load

Creates space

 Soon to be crushed in some forsaken landscape

Buried in parts unknown

Or incinerated

Mere smoke filtered first before billowing in the Spring sky

We stood in the same line

One you never shared with me so long ago

Your ensemble makes you look important

But I know what it hides

A man who lacks a moral compass

And possesses a criminal mind

Better not to  speak

The atmosphere would be contaminated

Toxified by your breath

False manners emanating from your mouth 

If the strangers among you only knew

What you have done and whom you’ve become

 But I-I am the ultimate stranger

An alien from a former life that no longer seems real

A happy human now

I laugh at the end of the counter with a friend

Awaiting morning warmth

Giggling at the  circumstance

Relieved relaxation

Affirmed in my foreboding

Those damn nails couldn’t hold me in the cage you built

Or was it a coffin?

One hundred pounds laid to waste

Much like you

The Aftermath

Credit: www.submit.manscostyle.com ( “A Wounded Heart” by Tim Dwyer)

 

In the dark recesses of my mind

I hear the gunfire of your wounds

Land mines of domestic destruction

Improvised explosives shrouded in verbal volleys 

Scattered shrapnel

Stinging pain from your  scoffs

Mocking my every move

 

In the dark recesses of my gut

I taste the heaving

My attempts to digest your vile invectives

your vicious vitriol that holds my virtues in a vise

 

In the dark recesses of my heart

I feel the agony of your aggression 

the abscess of your abandonment

 and the anguish of your annihilation

.

 

For those known and unknown who are experiencing abuse. Mine is past but the pain is sometimes present.

Hidden Hunger

Credit: belleofthelibrary.com

Her toes tickled the sand

Her face baked in the August sun

Her ears deafened by the roar of the ocean

Her sunglasses shielded her eyes from the surf’s glare

as she tried to ignore the deep, grinding hollowed out hunger in her gut

She could not conjure up her family’s next meal

No magic wand of money would be appearing any time soon

The stash in the basement was null and void

The fridge a wide open expanse of empty

And what else would be waiting at home? 

Just the cause of the family’s famine in the first place

The one who dared touch the last remnants of fruit left for his children

Whose anger ignited at being denied those rock bottom bits 

She rested in the stillness with her dull endless ache

Becoming more numb by the minute

The tide washing her pain away

 

 

“It’s something we’d all gotten used to, that hollowness in the veins, the nagging feeling there was always just a bit too much air behind your ribs.”

~Andre’ Dubus III (from his memoir “Townie”)