Compassion is hard to express in words
The trembling flowers they bring
Fear in the roots and the stem
What happened to me they know could happen to them
Can I forgive him
No, I cannot
Can I forgive him
No, I cannot.
This song is one of my favorites from the Capeman, a musical that was better than its press would indicate. It was a musical by Paul Simon and Derek Walcott, and it was about this hispanic who killed two white boys in New York in the late 1950s. This particular song is where Esmerelda Agron, mother of Sal Agron, the hispanic murder, approaches the mothers of the two white boys to beg for forgiveness for her son. But I've found it's a fitting song as an emotional release as well, even if the pronouns are wrong or it doesn't quite fit the lyrics...nobody can forgive when the would is deep, open and painful. Nobody.
We all have different ways of dealing with pain. Some of us bottle it up deep inside, and try to continue on as normal, only to have it explode to an innocent soul. Some of us just try to drift our way out of the situation, to take and take and take the pain and stay silent and withdrawn. Some of us are verbal about expressing our pain. Some take it out immediately on innocent people. Some hold grudges. Some grow exceedingly calm. Some deny that they're hurt at all. Some immediately apologize for any wrong committed, even fake ones.
These are all legit ways of dealing with pain. However, some solutions are more optimal than others. I, for example, waver between one and two, with a lot of the last. To somebody who doesn't understand me, they might, for example, percieve the withdrawnness as being cold and hostile. The problem comes when people assume that their perceptions are the truth, or even the Truth, and don't bother to get to the bottom of the story.
But back to the subject of forgiveness or repentance or making amends. To be able to do the latter, you have to allow the person whom you've wronged to heal. Demanding it before the healing has taken place leads to the situation in the song...where forgiveness is begged before the wounds are healed over. And then the question. "Can I forgive [it, you, him, her, them, us, me]?" and the answer would, of course, have to be like the song, "No, I cannot."
And there comes a time when an apology is not enough. Usually, it's a case of the person who has been wronged having heard these apologies before, but have not seen a corresponding change from the person offering the apology. It's similar to a statement my mom used to make to me. "Trust is easy to lose and hard to regain." To accept an apology, to truly forgive, one must trust that the person whom you want to forgive is trustworthy enough to make the corresponding change to attempt to keep the wrong from happening again.
But I think you'd have to be
Jesus on the cross
To open your heart after such a loss
Sometimes religion helps in these matters. Sometimes it does not. To attempt to be as unselfish as the Christ was sometimes leads to interesting dilemmas. To err is human; to hold grudges is human; to be unable to forgive is at times human too. People can hurt, and it is indeed hard to hold up the perfect ideals. But in general, it's a smart move to live by the golden rule: Do unto others as you'd have done unto you..
I know I've tried my honest best to live up to this ideal, but I'm not perfect. I hold grudges; I get frustrated; I do things wrong. But I do try my best to, most of the time, do what I would want done to myself in all situations. It has lead, I have found, to a tendancy to attempt to spare other people hurt most of the time, and I find in situations where somebody must be hurt, or attempting to balance hurts, extraordinarily stressful. I don't want people to hurt; this sounds funny, but it drives me nuts to have to do it. But there are times when I have to, and the pain from those incident backlashes as much as anybody else.
I've been involved in one of these difficult situations, one again which I feel the details aren't needed to be spread across the world, because I basically don't know who's reading this. Secondly, it's still a matter of some pain, for the reasons I stated above, because I am quite aware I caused pain. In this case, it was a question of balancing pain, and even though I believe in the end estimation that the right decision was made, it's still a matter of a wound that needs to heal.
(And now that I've said it, let's watch the sharks circle...)
Anyway, this situation has had me musing on the idea of making amends, because in the aftermath, the person in question has been stating that there was no chance to make amends, to gain atonement...and I think the answer comes out as above. It's a matter of trust. I've watched too many things blow up; I'm a bit jaded at the moment.
It's a cliche, but the idea of walking a while in another person's shoes comes to mind here. No matter how many times they were offered, the shoes were thrown away in favor of an interpretation. It is painful indeed when somebody believes they know how you feel ... and they're dead wrong.
And I've swerved too close to the situation, which I don't really want to talk about for different reasons...the biggest of course being that my words are going to be twisted around and commented on elsewhere, and as I said...it's not my place to explain.
In the final estimation. I'm sorry for the pain I caused, but there was no other answer. There was no other way to stop pain from spreading any further to other people, and to stop it, we had to cause pain to do it. For this, I am sorry. But this does not mean that I believe this was the wrong answer; I believe we did what we had to do.
and as for the all important question: Can I forgive this person? No, I cannot. Not right now...I need time for my wounds to heal. I need time, as TS Eliot said so very well in his poem "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock":
"...yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea."
And I think my next LJ will explore the idea of time...so stay tuned.
Feels like a bomb fell
and wave after wave come the aftershocks
You can't believe that it's true
There must be some mistake
You drift through this nightmare from which you can't wake
Can I forgive him?
Can I forgive him?
No, I cannot