Recent Posts







« | Main

An excuse for an apology: Another post waking up the ghosts

By William Alexander | July 29, 2014

I use this blog for a number of reasons. One of the things this blog helps me do is be honest. When I’m publicizing it, I am more intentional with my words. Usually, once I’ve transmitted something the way I mean to convey it, I’m quite pleased, even proud, of the accomplishment. I spend hours on these blog posts, and sometimes an hour on a Facebook status about the 3 things I’m thankful for in a day and the 3 things I’m struggling with that day. It’s completely worth those hours spent, so that I can feel more confident that I’m hearing the most accurate representation of my chaotic mind.

Some of the primary purposes for Rumbelow over the past many years have been: to help me cast off the chains of self harm and loathing, to keep people far away from me in the loop of where my physical and emotional beings are travelling, to share my shoddy poetry, to remind everyone that they’re all already enlightened Buddhas, and lately to help me process, celebrate, and subtly publicize the gentle rainclouds on the horizon moving swiftly to this thirsty garden — transitioning to presenting female (named Emma?!). This post fits another tired topic, here.

Yes, this is another post about my abusive high school “sweetheart.”

Every now and then some part of my brain decides that it wants the more conscious parts of me to have just an awful week, so I have a dream about her. Whether we’re friendly or fighting, I wake up and feel nauseous. There are several concerns and doubts I corner myself with. “You were stupid and blind about her once, what if you cross her path someday and she tricks you into her web again?” (Maybe I’ll call this the Enchantress Scenario, as if she somehow could use magic to mess with my understanding of reality) Sometimes I think myself weak: if I wasn’t aggressive towards her, I call myself a push over. If I was aggressive towards her, I call myself uncontrollable; a /monster/. As you can tell, I’ve made myself a trap. This week’s dreadful feeling sat with me the whole way to work. “How long is this going to go on for? Isn’t it time to move on?” It didn’t even turn into “the statute of limitations is over, stop pressing it,” and just stayed with “you might legitimately be haunted by this for life.”

She didn’t just show up out of the blue, though, when she came to this most recent dream. A week before that, I had been reflecting on an online exchange the two of us had — that exchange took place in 2010. I remember where I was. I was stringing together my paper for an independent study on Buddhist monasticism in the JMU library when I got a Facebook message from her, without us having any contact in months. Maybe 10 months before that I had sent her an e-mail, I think because I needed to confront her and feel like I put her in her place / actually told her that what she did was wrong. I thought I needed to say it to her face. (While trying to dig up the messages, I found a gem from shortly after we did break up, turns out I was pretty good about it back /then/. “The best way you could possibly repay me is to grant me one wish. Finally, let me live my life… You abused me. I don’t want anything to do with you.” <curtsy>) (emphasis added just now, I’m proud of my 19 year old self)

Anyway. I’ll quote some of her message and then talk about my reflections, deeper in the past and more recently.

“I never wanted it to get that bad. Have you ever gotten something jammed really good between gears, or the chain on a bike, or anything like that? And every time you try and pull it out the wiggle room gets smaller and smaller. When you try and push it back through from the other side, more of it gets stuck until eventually there isn’t anymore room to push or pull and you’ve gotten so much of the thing stuck that it’s practically destroyed. By the time I knew I didn’t want to be with you anymore and that it would have never worked, I had gotten myself so far in over my head that I couldn’t wiggle myself free. And out of frustration I must have just done the natural thing which is to freak out and start pulling it harder and pushing it further back through the jam… I acted that way out of anger with myself, sadness with life, religious guilt, and a million other things.” (emphasis my own).

When I first read that, I was actually pretty thrilled. I noted to myself, somewhat in a daze, “huh, I think I just got the apology I’ve been waiting for for the last 3 years.” Y’know, maybe I wasn’t in a daze. There was a reason that the apology I’ve always wanted didn’t really affect me too much.

When I responded, a month later, I explicitly didn’t accept her apology. Partly because I thought she was hurting because of – more than sorry for – her actions. Secondly, I didn’t need her apology to heal myself. By the time I got that message, I didn’t want it. As I told her,
“*I* did it, not you. I imagine you will have to spend a good long time looking in your mirror and telling yourself that *you* forgive you. You will need to go contact that person from 2003, the naïve, ‘innocent’ one that existed back then, and you need to accept her for the ‘missteps’ she’s about to make. Then you need visit the girl of October 2006, as she claws at my ribcage, and as her thumbs squeeze down on my throat between the bed and the dresser, and you need to forgive her. You need to forgive her for every time she sent me to the bathroom to hide a black eye from someone.”

I thought I had given a perfect response when I did. Including, “Your metaphor of the bike chain is fitting. I think it explains the situation on both our parts quite well. I know you’re not a violent person — nobody is. We are all humans, we are all good, and we are all looking for the right way to experience the world correctly. Sometimes we mess it up for a bit though.”

Well, as I see it now, I was pretty high on all that Buddhist monasticism accept-your-circumstances bullshit I’d been reading for the 4 months prior to writing.

It struck me 2 weeks ago. Just like a gnat in the eye.

Stuck in a bike chain? Please. All you needed to do was, y’know, stop abusing me. Basically any time would have been good. I have deep compassion for myself today for having spent so many years sitting on that excuse-for-an-apology (omg, is that what the idiom means?) thinking it was acceptable. No, that was just an excuse she had given me. At any moment before, after, or during that ritual where I came home and she physically disciplined me 20, 30, 50 times for having done various things to break the “rules” that day — that could have been a good time to just… not hit me. Are you seriously suggesting that forcing your partner to lick the bottom of your shoes is you “just doing the natural thing”? How could just stopping not worked?

This realization hits me one week, and then I have that dream the next week, and the following week I lose my glasses and have to use the ones I wore back then. She’d broken this one pair so many times when she’d hit me that I got these indestructible/flexible glasses. She could hit me so hard that the hinge could draw blood, leave a scar, and you bet they’d be ready for action in an instant. Context aside, I liked the glasses and if I needed them for being clumsy, I bet I’d feel pretty great about them. All of this adds up to a July whose waters are calm on the surface, but deep and uneasy where the light cant reach. I guess that’s par for my course, though. The elves in my backyard stole those glasses from me (they also stole a hammer!), but maybe they know a better purpose for them than to simply offer visions of ancient history.

Now I’m angry. I want to make a list of all the horrible things that happened in that relationship. Instead, I want to focus on that compassion. It doesn’t take years of abuse for a person to not realize that they deserve goodness in their life. I don’t know what role that abuse had in my reaction to her words. Am I more aware of my autonomy and power, and what I do and don’t deserve because of our relationship? Am I less ready to see it, and still buying her bullshit? Probably both, depending on the circumstance, and it’ll always be like that. I don’t think we can ever have enough compassion — for ourselves or for our friends. I can’t decide right now if I want to include having compassion for our abusers. I just don’t have it in me.

So now I’ve cast out that demon. For a while. How about a change of pace?
Today I’m thankful for the way my arms are starting to adjust as the medicine does its magic, that my voice “passed” for the first time (to my knowledge) this week, and having discovered a gardening activity that relaxes me, is fun, and enhances my productivity throughout the day (I, uh, break sticks into basically pencils and then hammer them into the clay). I’m struggling with a fever (but no other ailments), worry about the test (what if I fail? Should I start looking for jobs in Europe now?), and missing a couple people pretty hard.




Topics: This is my life | Comments Off on An excuse for an apology: Another post waking up the ghosts

Comments are closed.