The challenge was they were going to be there. I wanted to be okay with that; really I did. But I was afraid.
I was afraid something would happen to get my ‘girls’ (chihuahuas) in trouble – like last time – and worried about what they would do. Worried about what she would do.
I was afraid that the forgiveness I had assured myself I had towards the past wasn’t… wasn’t strong enough to be in the same place as them. After all, thoughts of visiting the city where they live (one of my favourite places in the world, though I have only been there twice) brought me to panic. I mean, if we went, they would expect a visit… and could I visit them?
Forgiveness is all well and good in the abstract (notice I am not saying it was easy) but how would it hold up in such a close environment?
And trust? Now, forgiveness is one thing – we all struggle with something, and I know… I know that the failure and shame that I have had in my life wasn’t experienced without a lot of prayer, and study, and energy, and – everything I had really – given to succeed; yet I failed. Do they know that?
I wonder if those looking at my failures actually knew how hard I tried. Frequently it seems they don’t, for they are so angry with me for failing – as if I chose to fail! Really? When I say that I gave everything I had to do well, I actually did give everything I had to do well. So I have to believe that is true of everyone else, too. I have to.
So I forgave them. It wasn’t easy. What they did… what they set into motion… it broke me. Years later I am still broken from it, and I am not certain it can be healed this side of heaven, but… I forgave them. Over and over again I forgave them – for it seems to me that forgiveness isn’t a one time thing. What was done hurts over and over again. It effects my life over and over again. It comes to mind over and over again.
And every time, I have to forgive again. And I do. I am convinced I do – yet when I am faced with being in the same place as the one who hurt me, I fear it isn’t true.
Trust is even harder. They hurt me once, or twice, or over a period of years, and it was… the worst thing ever. The very worst. And I know they have it in their power to hurt me again, and so I cringe from the contact – for it hurt so very bad the last time. That thing they did? It hurts still. Not a little bit – time doesn’t heal. Time gives perspective. Time lengthens the distance between the waves of pain. But it doesn’t heal it. This still hurts as much today as I think of it than it did then.
I forgave them believing that people fight their hardest to do well – and when we see their failure, we can’t know how hard they tried. But trust is harder for their battle hurt me so much, and I know they have the power to hurt me again.
So as I prepared for my trip, knowing they would be there, the panic grew moment by moment and day by day.
I wrote to my therapist who said, “they can’t take anything away from you but your sleep,” which I know not to be true. They can hurt me again. They can hurt me badly. I cannot lie to myself. I cannot accept other people’s lies – even if they mean well. Even if they are trying to help me find calm. A lie is a lie (whether they know it or not) and it makes the panic worse.
For maybe the worst doesn’t happen to other people (it seems therapists are trained to say our worst fears don’t often happen, and they use that to try to calm people) but my worst fears have happened to me. Again and again. And to tell me that doesn’t happen, or that can’t happen, only makes me feel more alone, misunderstood, and afraid; for the worst does happen to me, so I know it can happen again.