Sort of a short story. I can’t think of names. I’m not good at that part.
Today I found myself confiding in someone. I ran into him because I needed to. It’s one of those run-ins that I didn’t want to happen, but I knew it needed to happen. I didn’t go looking for my friend. I just told myself that if a chance meeting were meant to happen then it would. I guess I didn’t want to face what lay ahead of me. I knew he would tell me.
My friend recently went through something that I am going through right now. I remember bumping into him over the summer and trying to offer helpful words. I remember him telling me that it was something that I would never want to deal with. Well, I’m dealing with it. I won’t say exactly what “it” is. I’ll say that, as he warned me, there is a way that this kind of “it” makes you deal with some of the most painful parts of your past. “It” changes the whole course of your life. He started out telling me about what he found on his research on the issue. He’s a scientist and things like this don’t come up without his doing some type of research.
Suddenly, we stopped talking about science.
He said, “we often have this gap between ourselves and someone who we thought was supposed to love us.” I felt my eyes fill with tears. I knew he could tell I was on the brink of crying. We were standing in the middle of a busy sidewalk and I could tell that he was still hurting from his recent loss. I didn’t want to let a tear fall because I thought that crying would be selfish. So I took a deep breath and whispered “yeah.”
It was the best that I could do. I looked away avoiding further eye contact. He stared in the other direction, “you have to make up your mind to fill that gap. To make the connection that you feel isn’t there…what you have to say about how they made you feel isn’t what they need to hear.”
He told me a story about a relationship between two family members. He said that one family member forgave the other a long time ago, but was holding out for some moment that never came. There were these words hanging in her mind that her heart was holding out for. “I’m sorry” or “I always loved you” or something that says “I know what I did made you feel these ways. I know I altered your whole sense of self. I know I ruined your ability to value yourself and made you responsible for your own repair.” Those words never came.
Instead she had to be there. She couldn’t take back her forgiveness. Instead, she had to love this person through their journey. This person needed her to hold a hand and to be of comfort. This person who only had sparse intersections with her life, but who she found herself loving anyway, needed her and she was incapable of being indifferent.
Yes, she had been abandoned by the person who was supposed to nurture her and protect her. She had been left to the periphery of a life that was lived at times as if she didn’t exist. She bore that pain for so long, and, now, she was in pain again because this person was hurting. She wanted to fix that person’s hurt and live a life different from what life had been before. She wanted the tender moments to be daily, not spread out over years. But this was it. With one last breath, those words and those moments never came.
My friend and I talked about how we are often left to resolve that distance on our own. We are left to forgive without the help of the offender. We have to fill the space. We have to choose to love them, not for them, but to free up something in ourselves. It’s the kind of responsibility that could make you hate a person even more. How can people cause so much damage and leave the consequences to you?
We talked about all the ways you repeat the scenario giving some poor soul the chance to show you that you’re worth more than what this one person left you thinking. This one person who leaves you yearning for love and who seems to sour every friendship and relationship because they left you feeling empty. Never mind the pain it causes the people who you know love you and who are there waiting for you to stop expecting some moment filled some words that will never come.
By the time someone walked up who knew us both, we had been standing on that busy sidewalk for a long time noticeably talking about something very serious. I took that as my cue to give us a both a much need break.
We had come to some hard conclusions by that point:
You’re not capable of hating them.
They’re not capable of giving you the answers you need.
You have to live your life as if those words will never come.