Chapter 18: On Forgiveness

Once Rae said, “you’re touching my yuckiness,” as I massaged her preschool feet.  Forgiveness has something to do with this, I am 99% certain.

***

After typical summer mornings here at home the old fir floors require some quick sweeping, and the pillows need straightening before I’m permitted to I sit on the big gray sofa, in front of the big open window to breathe.

Nap time is a little taste of Kingdom Come.

Inhale.

Exhale.

Inhale.

Exha—

What was that?  The front gate rattles open.  Nooooo, I just tidied up!  These are my moments.

When I peek out the big window I see my mom approaching.  Oh hell no.  We haven’t really spoken since I sobered up, when the freedom finally felt safer than the codependence and yelling.

She climbs the front steps and stands in my entryway, staring straight ahead into the living room like a Buckingham Palace guard.

_ _ _ follows her moments later and stands to her left, shoulders almost touching, but not, because—divorce.  I haven’t seen him since he left for a third time after shoving my mom across the living room a few years ago.  Sometimes the girls ask where Grandpa went, I tell them I don’t know, which is the truth.

In a strange turn of events a 15-year-old Claire shows up next and stands beside _ _ _.

After that, a little baby Lucy crawls through the threshold and plops down at my younger self’s ankles.

What the hell is happening here?   If only I had closed that door…

My viper tongue & dictator rage combined with years of muzzling creates a volatile chemistry inside, and I lunge forward toward the four of them.

“You’re the meanest bitch I know!”  I hiss at mom.

Moving down the line, “You’re such a fat fuck!”  I yell at the missing man.

The spewing continues and “You piece of shit!” lands onto my younger self.

Finally, arriving at baby Lucy, “I have no clue how to love you.”

Whoa.  That must be why therapists always explained the harm in bottling my emotions.

Now they’re all crying the kind of tears a sad little kid cries after the balloon slips from between her fingers, while getting verbally abused.

Stop crying, I need you to stop right now.  I just swept the floors, and the dishes are done, and I wanted to read my book and snuggle into a blanket.  You were not a part of this plan!

They cry louder.  GET OUT!  Nobody moves.

So I turn around and take ten steps back to the big gray sofa.  Fine, cry.  You all deserve to feel the pain, anyway.

After a minute or two my insides feel afraid & gray and I want to ask for help but David’s at work.  An angel, big and golden, steps through the side door that leads to the Garden out back.

What’re you doing here?  Scorn clings to the words falling out of my mouth, and the itchy wool cloak of anxiety covers me.  When my angelic intruder refuses to acknowledge the question I huff and I puff and I finish blasting shame lasers at my kin in the entryway.

They need beds, they want to go to sleep, I realize.  Or maybe the angel messages me.  But I don’t have enough quilts and pillows.

Looking to the angel I say, “You’re the bed maker aren’t you?”

Yes.

Okay.

We get to work.  Mama likes her beds goosey, so we dig out a hole in my floor and fill the dusty cavern with linen glory.  I lead her to the bed, tuck her in, and begin on bed number two.

_ _ _ ‘s addicted to sand and palm trees, so the bed angel digs another hole, fills it with sand, plops two palm trees and a hammock down.  Even though I can barely look him in the eye, and I hate the feeling of his hand in mine, I escort him to the hammock and sway him to sleep.

When I was fifteen, demons devoured me in my alone moments.  I was alone a lot.  Looking at little Claire I knew she didn’t want to sleep alone, she wanted to share a space with someone who could give her all the security that parents in hospitals never did.  Here, lie down near me, motioning to the sofa; she plops her greasy head on my lap.

Finally, my baby.  Come here sweet girl.  She crawls up and rests her head on my shoulder.  Within minutes they’re all asleep.

What the hell just happened?  And why are these people literally embedded in my home?  Forever?  The angel steps out with the same abruptness in which s/he entered.

For so long I fought to keep my rage at these beings outside the doors of my mind and heart. Maybe these people have something that will help with the yuckiness I feel inside?  Maybe the frenzy and chaos just needs to find a safe space with straightened pillows and some soft blankets.

Anger is just fear with armor on, and I’m finally ready to trust the most repeated words in the Bible: do not be afraid.

May I remove this armor yet?  Can I get cozy?

Oohh…I exhale.

Those one-liners, the single sentences that summed up my resentments at the four people who now sleep in my living room—they are the four most defining lies I hurl at own self.

But I am not the meanest bitch I know, and neither is my mom.

I am not a fat fuck, neither is _ _ _.

I am not a piece of shit, and I never have been.

And who ever said lovable and feisty can’t coexist?

Oohhhhhhh…

So maybe that quote about resentment and anger being a poison you accidentally ingest yourself is true?  Maybe we get cancer and heart burn and rashes and high blood pressure because we are gluing our own self-hatred, doubt, and fears onto another?  (The cancer part has not been proven, yet.)  Maybe our resentments eat us alive?

Make us drink or shop too much?

Keep us from tapping into our Love Hulk superhero status?

Prevent us from finding down-feathered goodness and sweet slumber?

When we realize that most of the ill will we hold toward others is just a despised or feared version of ourselves forgiveness starts to flow freely.  It’s tricker with abuse, and that’s where wounded not wicked really helps.  But God loves abusers, too, remember?

Once we realize that the people who took advantage of their power and used it to hurt us were just slightly (or severely) more wounded versions of ourselves, the arteries start to unclog, we begin to beat and move to the rhythm of Love.   And the longer we sit in God’s love for us, the more understandable God’s love for those ass hats is, too.

Maybe if we closed our eyes and opened the doors of our hearts instead of rejecting the person or institution or system that upsets us we could see our own humanity in the object we despise.

It feels so good to stay mad though, doesn’t it?  Until you get cancer and heartburn and skin issues and start drinking too much.  The thing you want to hurl at another is the poison you’ve allowed to eat you up.

What if forgiveness means that you’re okay with the yuckiness of others because you’ve become goodhardgood friends with your own grimy parts?

My mom used to hit me, a lot.  And she spoke fear into my life for years.  She is also a beloved child of God who did the best she could.  I know now about the rage she let dictate her discipline, I have found my own self in it.  And if I am not bad, neither is she.

My biological dad is addicted to food, just like I am.  His fat used to disgust me, until my own saggy flesh entered the picture.  Now, to hate him would be hating myself.

Teenage Claire was a sociopath trying to survive each next moment.  I wasn’t bad for hurting people inside and out, for all the marionette-ing and manipulating.  I was a beloved puppeteer of God who forgot about what S/He said in the Garden.

And Lucy, my sweet girl, she is squishy and fun.  The lies I pasted on to her were rooted in my own fear of my own un-loveable-ness.

Who or what do you have a little leaking vile of poison saved for in your heart?  When you close your eyes, and imagine that being before you, what do you want to say?  What would hurt him/her/it the most?

Now how does that sentence relate to you?  Because you are the only human you can change.  I’ll give you a hint, it’s always rooted in our fear and forgetfulness.  What would life look like if all that anxiety and anger had a cozy place to retire at the end of the day?

Don’t be afraid, you were born for this.  Or be afraid, but remember that you received a radioactive injection at creation, one that breaks your heart wide open and lets your Love Hulk burst out, ready to massage the shit out of everyone’s yucky feet.

Just like Jesus did.

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3 Comments

  1. This makes me feel better about never being a real mother. I don’t think I could handle it well at all.

    You, Claire, are SO very loved.

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