Archives for category: Fiction

Eventually, there comes a time when “forgiveness” comes up in many discussions of past pain or trauma (even very recent pain and trauma, honestly). Sometimes it comes in the form of someone seeking forgiveness, other times it comes in the form of someone wondering if providing forgiveness is overdue… or possible at all.

Forgiving someone for something they have done to hurt us isn’t about the person who hurt us, at all. That’s an important detail we sometimes forget (as do seekers of forgiveness). So… there’s that.

Forgiving someone for hurting me has been a peculiarly tender and personal thing to learn to do. It took me a while to figure it out; so often the conversation around forgiveness has seemed to center on the actions being forgiven, or the person, and it’s actually not at all about any of that. Forgiveness is letting go our attachment to pain – that deep down personal aggrieved attachment to feeling wounded, and carrying the anger associated with that hurt. Forgiving is the process of letting that go, and moving on, ourselves.

You know what forgiving someone is not? It’s not permission to repeat that hurtful behavior. It’s also not any sort of agreement to continue inviting that person into our life to continue a shared journey as though there had never been any hurt. In fact – forgiving someone has nothing at all to do with the nuts and bolts and practical details of whether they are a part of our life ever again at all. Forgiving someone else is a way of allowing ourselves to move forward from a painful moment.

I’ve long ago forgiven my first husband for the injuries and scars that still sometimes hold me back, or at least affect my day-to-day experience of health. I’ve forgiven my second long-term partner, now also an ex, for the prolonged slide into learned helplessness and chronic frustration that come from being gas-lighted and manipulated for years. I’ve forgiven childhood enemies for their transgressions, and adults more recently who’ve mistreated me in one way or another, over time. Learning to forgive became almost easy once I understood that to do so did not require me to also invite people back into my life to repeat those behaviors – there is no expectation or requirement to do so at all. I can forgive, and move on with my life, allowing them to move on with theirs.

Forgiveness is powerful. I highly recommend it as a practice. I also, and without conflict or contradiction, highly recommend maintaining – and enforcing – healthy boundaries. Respect your own boundaries, respect the boundaries of others, and yes, even when you’ve forgiven someone. Non-negotiable relationship deal-breakers remain non-negotiable, and also deal-breaking, even in the face of “forgiveness”. That’s totally correct and appropriate. That’s proper. Having forgiven my first husband for his violence in no way suggests or requires that I allow him back into my life. 🙂 Forgiving him is for me, not for him.

When people seek forgiveness from us, the intention often seems to be to re-ingratiate themselves in our favor, as though “all is forgiven” also means “do over” and “no harm done”. That seeking suggests that the forgiveness is somehow about the person who has transgressed – but it isn’t, at all. I understand wanting to be forgiven; it sucks to ache with the pain of having hurt someone we care for. Too bad. It’s actually supposed to hurt if we hurt someone or treat them poorly; to remind us to do better, and to nudge us into making it right. Being forgiven doesn’t get someone off the hook for having to make amends, or somehow right our wrongs, and we’re mistaken if we assume that it does.

Being forgiven does not wind back the clock as though what was forgiven never happened. Relationships end on the backs of some pretty heinous deal-breaking words and actions – they should. Forgiving someone for those words or actions in no way suggests continuing the shitty relationship is going to be a thing, or that somehow the pain of what went down will just stop existing. We are each accountable for our actions. We face consequences – real consequences – for our choices, for our words, for our behavior, and whether or not we are forgiven by someone we’ve hurt, this is true.

I spent some time reflecting on forgiveness this weekend, having overheard a remark to the effect that “he’s not going to forgive me this time…” from a woman aware she chronically and repeatedly abuses her mate. I was astonished at the phrasing, which suggested she did not at all understand that the forgiving of her shitty behavior is not in any way related to whether or not the relationship itself would, or should, continue. It got me wondering about forgiveness, generally, and boundaries, and I found myself looking over past moments, myself, that I had forgiven. I felt pretty relieved that forgiveness has been so hard to learn, for me; the result has been that it did not become the kind of leverage that could be used to get me to “stay with a sinking ship” or “run back into a burning building”.

Here’s a thing that rankles me about that overheard remark; it also suggests that the speaker does not understand accepting forgiveness. Understanding that one has been forgiven requires a change in behavior – because accepting forgiveness implicitly acknowledges the wrongdoing. Once we know we have wronged someone, there is an obligation to change the behavior. No change? Well…um… why the fuck would a reasonable person expect that relationship to continue?? Furthermore, continued poor behavior, once forgiven, and having been acknowledged as poor (and undesirable) behavior – is willful. Yep. I said it and I mean it; if you know it’s unwelcome behavior, you’ve previously expressed regret for it, previously been forgiven for it, and you continue that behavior? You are deliberately, willfully, and yes on purpose, doing this hurtful thing. Seeking further forgiveness for the same shit is fairly sick, very manipulative, and in the face of chronic behavior, just a way of holding back that person you are hurting from seeking healthier relationships, and keeping them mired in bullshit with you. Particularly since the forgiveness isn’t about you. lol

For those faced with forgiving someone yet again for the same old same old, maybe also consider getting off that fucking hamster wheel at some point. Forgive, yes, but damn – respect your own boundaries, and be prepared to follow through on your non-negotiable deal-breakers. It’s okay to do that – and more to the point, it’s healthier to be free of abusive relationships than it is to attempt to “fix” them in the face of chronic mistreatment. Forgiveness is not tantamount to permission, or an agreement to ignore the damage done. 😉

It’s a whole new day. It’s a grand one to forgive old pain! It’s also an excellent day to stand strong on your resolve to treat yourself well, and to respect your own boundaries. It’s a lovely day to begin again. 🙂

I had a wee moment yesterday, that teetered on the edge of the day going very wrong. It didn’t. I managed a step back, and some perspective, long enough for things to sort themselves out well. It’s really enough that things worked out, and not at all necessary to live life without such, or disappointing to have experienced it. In fact, because I didn’t become emotionally invested in the moment itself, or build it up to become a mountain of circumstantial anguish. It was more illuminating of my self and values, than at all disturbing. I didn’t know I would “get here”… hell, years ago, I did not even understand that “here” existed to arrive at. lol

We make up most of what causes our worst suffering, in our own heads. It’s ours. It’s hand-crafted painful narrative, and we often rely upon it a great deal to illustrate points, prove we’re “right”, and show “who we are”, to gain sympathy, or justify refusing to change, or to reinforce our insistence that we have no choices – without much attention to how entirely made up that bullshit really is. It sucks. It sucks to suffer in the first place, but oh does suck to understand we’ve done it to ourselves. Still – once I knew, I could stop fucking doing that!!

Life has been much better – easier, rich in cherished moments, low in drama, characterized generally by contentment – since I stopped putting myself through all that. It was not, unfortunately, something with an easy set of steps to follow, or something anyone could help me with.  I can try:

  1. Don’t be so down on yourself; you’re human.
  2. Don’t be so full of shit all the time; other people see through that crap, so can you.
  3. Do your best to be the person you most want to be, moment to moment.
  4. Repeat

No super helpful, I get it. It may be worth noting that, most commonly, I see the mostly likely point at which I am most prone to stepping from “what clearly actually is” to “I made this shit up myself, see?!” follows the word “because”. Maybe just… don’t do that. “I feel hurt” is honest, and clear, and fairly to the point. “I feel hurt because…” holds so much potential for magical thinking, disorder, lost reason, and lashing out at someone, that we often quickly stop sharing information that is legitimately provable true in real life, and start… making shit up. We often can’t tell we’ve done so, either. We believe our thoughts, and in this era of people behaving as if their opinion is every bit as worthy as actual truth, it can be hard to pull ourselves out of the slime long enough for honest self-reflection, and anything so wholesome as “truth”. “Because” is actually a pretty useful word, but fuck; fact check yourself.

Truth exists. It’s just sort of hard to stand firm to the process of telling it, honestly, particularly about ourselves, and especially when we may be quite definitely “in the wrong”. That’s right, I said it; we err. We make mistakes in reasoning. We excuse of ourselves things we do not excuse in others. We justify our bad acts. We’re “only human” – while we make that other person out to be a villain. It’s not actually okay. Here’s the thing that’s weird about it; it’s hard to call each other out for those lies (yes, they are) – we don’t want to be called out, ourselves, and… what if that person is “well-meaning”, or… they clearly believe what they’re saying? (Reminder: that we “believe” something is not in any way connected to the truth of it.) Yeah. I admit it – standing next to a friend telling me (or others) a tale that they clearly believe about “who they are” (or what actually happened) that I know, for a fact, is not true (from my perspective) – because I was there – is uncomfortable. I have nothing to say here about what to do about it or say to someone else who may be spinning up a bullshit narrative about themselves. I do make a point of trying not to be the person causing that specific category of discomfort, or indulging the particularly human quality of “making shit up”… unless I am literally writing fiction; it would be appropriate, then. lol

The way out of our pain in life is through it. Excusing it, camouflaging it, transforming it through skillful use of internal narrative – none of that “fixes” anything. We’ve all got to walk our own hard mile, deal with our own vast Augean stables, and become the person we, ourselves, most want to be, as honestly as we are able. (And, yeah, there are verbs involved – so many!)(Yep. Your results may vary, too.)

Why am I thinking about all of this, anyway? Life and the world, really, nothing fancier than that. The White House Correspondent’s Dinner got me thinking about it (Michelle Wolf’s comedy was brilliant and edgy). A moment I had yesterday seemed relevant. too. I woke feeling thoughtful, and I just went with it. lol

…I’m still out of coffee, but I remembered to start packing for the weekend. LOL

So how about today? New day, new beginning – are you ready to be who you are, as a starting point to becoming the person you most want to be? You can. You have choices. You can begin again. ❤

Expectations and assumptions are a fast track to some shitty experiences in life. Most people move through their experience seemingly unaware, much of the time, that the outcome they are railing against is built, in part, on their implicit expectations, unexpressed emotions, and unverified assumptions. It’s so easy to make up the larger part of what we think we know, entirely in our own heads, of bits and pieces we’ve cobbled together from fragments of awareness, something we heard, and things we think we recall reading. It’s not an ideal approach to living well, I think.

Maintaining a comfortable awareness of the vastness of all that I just don’t actually know is something I practice. Seems worthwhile; I tend to be less annoyed with people as a result, generally. I tend to cry a lot less. I don’t feel so hurt, so often. I enjoy the day-to-day of life as a human primate a great deal more without attempting to do so leaning into the disappointments that are so inevitable when I’m holding on to carefully crafted expectations and assumptions.

…I still have nightmares that seem to be about nothing besides uncertainty, itself. (Fucking hell, even many of my nightmares are weirdly meta) I dislike being uncertain – and I’m grateful to have learned at some point that the opposite of “uncertainty” is not “feeling very certain of the made up narrative in my head”. lol (Because it isn’t that, at all, emotionally; the opposite of uncertainty is being comfortable with not knowing.)

I chuckle to myself and sip my coffee. I don’t actually know that stuff, either. I’m guessing, maybe, or coasting on new assumptions and a different understanding of things, until those also fall to a failed attempt to check them against reality. Cycles of growth and learning. Incremental change over time. The understanding of life and love that met my needs at a teenager, are unlikely to be at all similar to my understanding of life and love as a growth woman past 50, and will also be, most probably, quite different from those I’ll have as a woman of 90.

I’m okay not knowing. I avoid tempting myself with guessing to fill in the blanks – definitely where people are concerned. We are each having our own experience. We filter our understanding of the world through our limited lens of that experience, framed in the context of our fears, and whatever lingering childhood brainwashing we’ve hung on to over the years. We are each so similar. So human. We have much to share with one another. Stories to tell. Trails to walk. Lessons to teach and to learn.

It’s Friday. A busy work day. Another doctor’s appointment. A long weekend ahead. A trip down to see my Traveling Partner for a couple days, and hang out where love lives, watching the shadows on the mountain shift, and the many tiny chickadees picking between the gravel of the drive. It’s been a couple weeks, and although I definitely needed the break from the frequent trips down, and time to really rest and also care for my current residence, I have missed being there. 

Each trip down to the The Place Where Love Lives feels a little more like “real life” and less like being a welcomed guest, which is lovely. I make a point each trip to find some new way to feel more at home, to be more appropriately prepared for life there, and inevitably I leave a bit more of my heart behind when I return to The Place Where I Live, myself. This time I am taking art down with me. 🙂

I notice my coffee is finished. The clock advances the day minute by minute and it’s time to participate. 🙂 Enjoy the weekend! (Hell, I think this weekend, I’ll even write…)

I slept in, grateful for a comfortable bed, a heated home, shelter from the ceaseless autumn rain, and a well-stocked pantry, looking forward to a long weekend. I woke slowly this morning, a bit at a time, returning to sleep a few minutes more without reluctance or judgement, until I felt truly rested, and definitely awake. I feel grateful for the small luxuries I am fortunate to enjoy each day. My espresso is tasty, and I made this latte with almond milk, which doesn’t aggravate my health in the way that bovine milk seems to do. I smile when I think about the butterflied turkey breast waiting in the fridge, and – honestly – about having a fucking refrigerator in the first place. I am grateful for the means to enjoy a comfortable life in a place that feels safe to me, without much stress.

I greeted my Traveling Partner online, first thing. He was already awake. He is sick at home and will not be making the trip up. I’m grateful he has the wisdom to wisely choose self-care when he must. I am grateful that he loves me such that he is also pretty bummed out not to be here, with me, as planned. We chat a bit. We chat about coffee. lol Of course. 😀

An unexpected solo holiday, and I find that I am nonetheless filled with gratitude. A holiday in a household filled with people, crowded with family members visiting from afar, or friends popping ’round with sides and desserts and bottles of wine, can be so utterly warm and joyful – and I’m not “missing” that, because I’ve done it many many times. I am grateful for those experiences, and those memories. I enjoy a mental montage of those today, and find that I remain grateful for this quiet holiday, wrapped in love, and warmth, and contentment, and quite deliciously alone.

I have a friend who is also solo for Thanksgiving, and he made mention of frozen microwave breakfast sandwiches and despairing loneliness. Ouch. I’d have invited him to join me – because that sounds pretty shitty – but firstly, he is very far away and would not be able to make it, and secondly – and this is a bit hard to observe without a poignant moment of real pain – he chooses this experience, with his whole will. I’m grateful to have the positive experience of life, generally, that I do these days. I’m grateful I gave some of those verbs a try (meditating, caring for myself, letting go attachments, eating a good diet, practicing good sleep hygiene, showing self-compassion, showing self-respect… oh, just a ton of verbs, really) and that I have continued to begin again when I fail, and continued to practice what works. We each choose our adventure. I’m grateful for free will, and I am grateful to be in relationships that respect my agency.

My coffee is very good this morning. I’m grateful for the 133 year old technology that put it into my cup as a latte. I’m grateful for the 45-year-old technology that lets me enjoy real-time communication with my Traveling Partner on a holiday we can’t share in real life, in shared space. I’m grateful for the 90-year-old technology that will provide me with ample entertainment today, in the form of video, and the 562 years of the printed word that always ensures I have something to read – and let’s not forget the many thousands of years of literacy that makes having a book in my hands worthwhile in the first place.

I am grateful for paved roads, sidewalks, and convenient, well-stocked, retail spaces. I’m grateful for the remaining acres of unspoiled wilderness.

My point, this morning, is that I am grateful for so many things, it only makes sense that there be a holiday to savor and cherish gratitude itself. It makes sense to cultivate it within my experience, and to enjoy the things I am most grateful for in a mindful and aware state of mind. I know a few people who are enjoying, instead, some Thanksgiving ire or Thanksgiving outrage instead, today, due to pilgrims, heinous violations of the agency of indigenous Americans by entitled European land thieves, and more modern outrages against our modern indigenous brothers and sisters that are so shamefully still ongoing – those things are worth being angry about, no lie. My own thought on this holiday is that the connection between this date on the calendar, this celebration at the autumn dinner table, and this holiday gathering under a banner of gratitude, is tenuous at best, and frankly wholly artificial. That being the case, and this being a “made up holiday” intended to move school children, and sell turkeys, I choose to honor it at face value; a holiday about gratitude, and a day to appreciate, together, or alone, what we do have, what does work, what is valued in our shared or individual experiences. An autumn feast day, a start to the holiday season, a moment of thanks – because we all have things to be thankful for, and we all need a moment of celebration now and then. It’s not about pilgrims, land grabs, or empire, for me. It doesn’t have to be – it’s a made up holiday. Make it your own. 🙂

I finish my coffee just as I finish that paragraph. I continue the conversation with my Traveling Partner, which will no doubt last the day in small exchanges over the hours – shared moments are shared moments, and in the 21st century, a great many of those are online, digital, and remote. It’s the emotional connectivity that matters most – the internet connectivity just holds the door open for that to occur. (Have you phoned your congressional and senatorial representatives to demand that net neutrality be preserved? It matters a great deal.)

Happy Thanksgiving. I hope you have far more to be grateful for than you have to bitch about. I hope your recipes turn out well, and your guests are entertaining and delightful. I hope you take care of yourself, and enjoy a low-stress holiday. I hope that you love, and are loved in return. ❤

…I still got the invitation to join the fun under the big top. That’s sort of how OPD (Other People’s Drama) works; it’s not your own, but nonetheless, it draws you in, consumes your attention, your time, your resources… if you choose to allow that. The alternative, which is to say, choosing to avoid, or depart from, the local circus of human drama means accepting, first, that you can.

Some people cultivate drama, relish it, and insist you sample it with them.

You don’t get those minutes (hours, days, weeks… whatever) of your life spent on drama back. Ever. You likely also don’t recoup any more tangible losses, should you have been so foolhardy as to waste your literal resources on Other People’s Drama. Most often, our compelling, seemingly unavoidable (it isn’t) drama is that of family members, and friends. We may feel “invested”, or obligated to do something about for… reasons. We may think we can “help” (unlikely; drama is chosen by those who love it, and they aren’t going to relinquish all that attention any time soon).

The drama isn’t “real”…

My weekend was weird. I cherish the time I spent with my Traveling Partner. The unexpected drama swirling around an unexpected couch-surfing house guest staying with his other partner was… both unexpected, and dramatic. It was also utterly willful, built on the narrative in said house guest’s head, and entirely untethered from any obvious connection to reality. Chosen. Emotionally invested in. Shared with persistent enthusiasm. I excused myself several times to be away from it altogether. No advice I could offer will alleviate self-selected willful suffering.

…like a mushroom, what is on the surface of most drama is only the outward expression of something far more vast …

Then there was the alternate undercurrent of drama that is simply the ebb and flow of change as my Traveling Partner and his Other get settled into the new location, and adjust to nearer and farther away friendships also adjusting to those changes. Getting to know new neighbors. The welcoming of deepening associations among now-local friends. The boundary-setting and limitations on resources that must sometimes be placed on friends lacking recognition that generosity has limits, that resources are not unlimited, that circumstances change. Learning to live well in an entirely new context. It’s lovely out in the country on their acreage – it is also not city living, at all. Change is a thing. What works when one can just pop down to the big box chain at the large shopping megaplex down the street isn’t necessarily an effective strategy when the nearest neighbor is a drive away, the corner market doesn’t have all the essentials because it is only the size of a storage shed, and “town” is miles down the highway – and more of a village than a town. I’m not being critical of country living – I’m eager to retire and embrace it – it is simply quite a lot different, and requires altogether different strategies to maintain good quality of life. It definitely drove the point home to be part of the experience of shopping for more complete first aid and emergency care gear; there is no chance an ambulance could arrive to deal with a first aid emergency in less than 45 minutes or so out there, at best.

…like raindrops clinging to surfaces after a storm, tears fall, tears linger, tears eventually dry…

The drive home was… surprisingly restful. lol No traffic and no drama. My timing was excellent. I left after enjoying morning coffee with my partner. I got home in the early afternoon, with plenty of time to grocery shop (didn’t need to, didn’t bother), do some tidying up (didn’t feel like it, didn’t bother), and prepare for the week ahead (didn’t need to, already was). I spent the evening meditating, reading, and enjoying the changes in the shadows as afternoon became twilight, and then night.

…there is value in perspective, and looking beyond the storm of the moment…

I still did not wholly escape the whopping helping of OPD that I “enjoyed” over the weekend; more drama when I got home. I (rather humorously, actually) was “unfriended” by a friend – over the other friends we had mutually shared (who, apparently, he also unfriended). I noticed though (while briefly catching up with the world), and, yep, invited drama rather thoughtlessly by asking him what was up with the unfriending? So… he told me. lol Fuuuuuuuuck. Okay, okay. That one’s on me. But – we’re still friends, I think. I even think that matters, since the entire mess was a reaction to an online exchange which I was no part of, and I actually like the guy. I even enjoyed spending some minutes in conversation with him, once we’d moved on from the drama, itself.

…storms pass.

Seriously, though? What is up with all the fucking drama? I mean, I’m not really surprised. We elected drama. We gobble up drama in our feeds every damned day. We make more if we run out. It’s pretty gross, actually; we are not ready to be content, or even to enjoy a moment of quiet. I mean, as a species, or a culture. Me personally? So ready. In fact, I spend much of my time utterly without drama. It’s pleasant. I plan to do more of that. 😀 I’ve even gotten pretty good at it. (If you read my blog regularly, you are probably getting pretty good at it, too. 🙂 )

There’s more to life than drama. Seasons change.

I woke at 2:32 am, this morning, when the power here went out in the strong wind and stormy rainy night. I might have slept through it (most of my neighbors likely did), but the back up power on the aquarium beeps in a friendly but hard to ignore fashion, about every 30 seconds, until shortly before it has done all it can, at which point it beeps rather more aggressively before becoming silent. Once it was silent, I went back to sleep for an hour. The power came back on minutes after the back up power to the aquarium was exhausted (just about perfect, and I remind myself to thank my Traveling Partner, who suggested it), about an hour and a half after the power went out. I dragged myself out of bed earlier than I meant to when my phone, carelessly left on my nightstand, buzzed when morning emails and message notifications began to arrive.

What we contribute to our experience ripples outward into the experience shared with others.

A new day, a new week – hopefully no new drama. lol It’s time to begin again. 😀