It’s funny how you don’t realize you haven’t thought about something in a while until you remember that you haven’t thought about it in a while.
It occurred to me recently that I haven’t given much thought to the coworker who put his foot in his mouth about my assault. I’m not angry or holding a grudge against him. I happened to run into him this morning and I told him I’m not upset with him. He thanked me and we both went on our way. I don’t particularly want to associate with him beyond work related pleasantries, but it was nice to say out loud to him that I’m not angry. He didn’t intend to be hurtful. He’s just clueless. I did my best to educate him a little more in the short opportunity I had. Maybe he’ll take it to heart. Maybe he won’t. That’s not up to me. It’s freeing to let it go. I don’t need to waste my energy on holding a grudge against him. I need to focus on myself and get myself better. He’s not worth my time.
I’ve had a hard time forgiving people in the past. I’ve always felt like forgiving someone was giving them a pass. I’m finally starting to internalize that forgiving someone isn’t condoning their behaviour. It’s about putting my sanity first and not dwelling on something I can’t change. Like all things in life, it’s not a perfect process. There will be times where people will hurt my feelings and I’ll get upset. There will be times where people I love and who love me will hurt my feelings by saying something ignorant or unintentionally hurtful. I can’t waste my time obsessing over how I was wronged. That’s exactly what it is, a waste of time. Because I had something malicious happen in my past doesn’t mean everyone is like that. I tend to take a broad brush to the world. This is especially true of people who remind me of people from my past who have treated me poorly (or been outright hurtful). Nine times out of ten, these people aren’t setting out to be hurtful. Like my coworker, they might simply be uneducated or misunderstand a situation. They might be trying to help in their own way and it doesn’t succeed. It’s not a black and white issue. People screw up. That doesn’t make them horrible people with an agenda to destroy everyone around them. I believe that most people are good at heart. They do their best, even if it fails epically.
Hands down, the most difficult task is forgiving myself. I made bad choices. I was uninformed. I can’t blame myself for decisions I made not knowing the whole story. I did my best given what I had at the time. I failed epically. But that doesn’t mean I’m a bad person. I’ve spent the last 6 years punishing myself in various forms and permutations for something I can’t change. Oddly enough, some of my worst decisions have turned out pretty well. I look at the ripple effect of my abuse and assault and see all the things that have come of it. If that had never happened, I never would’ve met Boy. I never would’ve been in that bar at a party hosted by a tattoo shop. Had my assault never happened, I couldn’t give advice to someone else going through treatment for PTSD. I couldn’t offer her tips from someone who has been there and assure her that everything she’s feeling and doing is normal. I wouldn’t be able to offer her support in a way that only someone who has been down that road can. As strange as it may sound, it’s like survivors of rape and abuse have our own language. Only those who have experienced the same thing speak it. While it’s by no means something I would ever want to go through again, it has had positive outcomes in the long run.
I’ve learned how strong I am. I’ve learned that I can bounce back from anything. My dad said something to me a long time ago before he knew about the assault that he learned in Ranger school. They try to break you not just physically but emotionally. He survived and earned the title of Ranger. He said I’m the same way. I can’t be broken emotionally. Being stubborn pays off in situations like these. I refuse to give up. Even through all the pain and heartbreak, I still got back up. After I got the DUI, I took a few days to cry about it, then got up and took care of everything. I had 90% of what I needed to do complete by the time I went to court. I proved to myself and everyone around me that I was capable of owning my own bad decisions. I didn’t let it get me down. I found out who my friends were. I saw who stood by me through it all. I’m constantly in awe of the people I’ve surrounded myself with. We’re a quirky bunch, but we would do anything for each other. Regardless of distance or time, we’re there for each other. That’s something I wouldn’t trade for anything.
This year has been an exercise in patience. Again, it’s not a perfect system, but I’m better than I was. I don’t insist that everything be done 5 minutes ago. I don’t rag on myself when I’m not perfect at something the first time I try it. I understand that things are a process and I have to trust that process. Not being able to drive until March is a pretty strong kick in the teeth on that front. I’m on someone else’s timeline. I can’t just come and go as I please. I have to be patient with their schedules and work with them. As the cliche goes, you have to walk before you run. I’m sure there will be days where all I can do is nitpick at everything I did wrong that day. There will be days where I’m feeling confident and strong. Most days fall somewhere in between.
Time to get up and move around then back at it for the afternoon.