Monthly Archives: May 2016

The flames of forgiveness

The flames of forgiveness
'Love' by Alexandr Milov, at Burning Man 2015

‘Love’ by Alexandr Milov, at Burning Man 2015

Alexandr Milov was the first Ukranian to receive a grant from Burning Man to create his art, and his piece was recognized as one of the most powerful from last year’s festival. Of his creation, aptly christened Love, Milov wrote: “It demonstrates a conflict between a man and a woman as well as the outer and inner expression of human nature. Their inner selves are executed in the form of transparent children, who are holding out their hands through the grating. As it’s getting dark (night falls) the children start to shine. This shining is a symbol of purity and sincerity that brings people together and gives a chance of making up when the dark time arrives.”

So when I came across it on social media a few days ago, it struck a chord deep within my being, because this is something I live through every single day.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve held the belief that forgiveness, like trust, is something that must be earned. If one is truly sorry for something, one would — or should — apologize, and then go about making right whatever they have done wrong. Then, and only then, can they be forgiven, and trusted again. But if no apology comes, how is forgiveness to follow? If their mistakes were not actually mistakes, but conscious choices, albeit bad ones, made intentionally to produce a desired outcome, why should they be sorry? And if they do apologize, only to repeat their transgressions, what is their apology worth?

Needless to say, I don’t remember ever forgiving anyone for anything.

For the last 13 months, my life has been a series of bad choices made in rapid succession. Every single decision made and subsequent action taken was a conscious one that resulted in more than one heart saved, and more than one heart broken. And every time a choice was made, the list of things I can’t forgive grew longer, to the point where I am now conditioned to prepare myself for the worst and expect history to keep repeating itself. My inability to trust fuels my refusal to forgive because I have never been given a reason to trust that wrongs will be righted and mistakes will be fixed.

Alexandr Milov’s Love tells us to let go of the anger and resentment that solidifies that yawning gap between us caused by our conflicts, and to embrace the forgiving spirit of our inner child when the darkness threatens to consume us. But how do we forgive when we are reminded every day that those bad choices made are the very reason the darkness in our souls exist? How do we let go of the anger and the hatred when they are the only things holding our walls up and protecting our hearts from being broken yet again? How do we put our trust in love when love is what drove us to make these choices in the first place?

Lost to love

Lost to love

‘Girl Before a Mirror’ by Pablo Picasso

I’ve been dating ever since I was 15 years old. I can count on two hands the number of relationships I’ve been in, but only on one hand the number of serious ones. And out of all the boyfriends I’ve had, I’ve only ever really been in love with one, because he was the only one who could ever meet me on my own level, and who knew how to make his life fit seamlessly with mine.

That last statement comes off a little ironic, because in all my years of dating, now matter how I felt about the boys (and later men), I always made a point of adapting myself to them. I learned their habits, their idiosyncrasies, and their lifestyles, and found a way to make room in my life for them. On some occasions, my friends mistook my conformity for actual love, and pointed out that I was losing myself by allowing my life to revolve around my boyfriends’.

I maintained that I wasn’t doing that, and that I was just being flexible, because any woman with a brain knows that it’s much easier to adapt to a man than to try and make a man change his ways for her.

It wasn’t until a few days ago that I finally saw myself through my friends’ eyes.

I came across a post on Instagram that read: “Relationships aren’t built on how many times someone tells you that they love you. Relationships are built on all those times that they didn’t tell you, but showed it to you instead.” And at that moment I found myself thinking, If this is love, then I don’t want it.

As someone who was raised to speak her mind and never say things she didn’t mean, I don’t think I’ve ever taken back anything I’ve ever said or written about anything or anyone. Truths are hard to hear, and read, but as far as I’m concerned, it’s only because people don’t want to have to live with them. My career as a journalist only sought to reinforce my belief in writing the facts — only after having incontrovertible proof that they are true, of course — so that I never had to feel guilty or take them back.

So it was an enormous step out of my comfort zone, not to mention against my own principles, when I was asked to remove something from a recent post, but because it caused a lot of unnecessary backlash i.e. drama. And after much raging, swearing and crying, I relented, not because what I had written wasn’t true, but because I was being asked to by the first person in the world I would have given up everything for.

Immediately after I edited that post, I was filled with a sense of self-loathing and resentment so profound that I knew I would never forgive myself — or him — for what I had been made to do. I was a hypocrite for backing down on what I believed in and doing what I had always been taught never to do, all for the love of one person. I had, once again, allowed every aspect of my life to be controlled by someone I neither know nor respect, all for the love of one person. And in loving someone too much, I had lost myself.

If this is love, then I don’t want it.

Misplaced guilt

Misplaced guilt
You can't steal from the cookie jar and not expect to gain a few pounds

You can’t steal from the cookie jar and not expect to gain a few pounds

“Feel better now? Then let’s get to the bottom of this. You say if you had it to do over again, you’d do it differently. But would you? Think, now. Would you?”

“Well –“

“No, you’d do the same things again. Did you have any other choice?”

“No.”

“Then what are you sorry about?”

“I was so mean and now he’s dead.”

“And if he wasn’t dead, you’d still be mean. As I understand it, you are not really sorry for marrying Frank and bullying him and inadvertently causing his death. You are only sorry because you are afraid of going to hell. Is that right?”

“Well — that sounds so mixed up.”

“Your ethics are considerably mixed up too. You are in the exact position of a thief who’s been caught red-handed and isn’t sorry he stole but is terribly, terribly sorry he’s going to jail.”

– Margaret Mitchell, Gone With The Wind

It’s something I’ve never understood, especially now. We make the conscious decision to do certain things — lowly, despicable things — and we keep doing them because we’re sure that we’ll be able to get away with them. But then when we are found out, we go on a rampage, blaming everyone but ourselves for our abysmal lapse in judgment because now the world sees us for what we really are.

So it’s perfectly acceptable to be a psychotic stalker, as long as nobody calls you out on it? That’s like trying to kill the judge who sent you to prison for murdering someone else in the first place.