Forgiving what was not done to me

(Apologize at outset for length. Got longer than I planned. Will delete if this turns out to be silly or not appropriate.)

This is my first essay at Docudharma. My purpose for writing this here is that from my limited lurking about the community I have found that this is likely to be a forum where my personal, spiritual essay will find welcome readership.

I am trying to be much less judgmental, so I do not say the following with any bad feeling in mind: I found Docudharma from the usual place, and that place, while a community I enjoy, does not always seem open to the kind of particularly personal essay I am about to write, unless that diary can be translated into an immediate political message. I certainly enjoy the politics of almost everything, and will continue to be a member of that community, but Docudharma has an obvious metaphysical component that is very appealing to me, in addition to many supremely interesting characters.

That said, let’s begin.

And to be honest I don’t know quite how to begin, other than to come out and directly give the context for my thoughts as they evolve through my life and today specifically: my relationship with the folks has always been one of mutual attachment and not a whole lot else (at least from my perspective). They are two incredibly conflicted people, dealing with many delusions common to our species, and a few other delusions that are rather extreme.

While I firmly believe in the concept of reincarnation, and thus the realization that much of my attitude toward this world was not formed merely in this lifetime, it is also apparent that we cannot help but be shaped very deeply by our formative years. As my parents were prone to engaging in the kind of “love” that is dependent always upon disagreement, intense conflict, and unfortunate remarks, I learned that this is how people who “love” each other interact.

As might be expected, it became difficult for me as I came of age to develop healthy relationships. My emotional growth was stunted, as I had never truly come to understand what caring relationships look like when love moves from the conditional “I love you, but…” and “I love you if…” to simply “I love you.”

It took many failed relationships and rocky friendships for me to begin to see where other people might be operating in their feelings about, and reactions to, the people around them. In that time, I also began to discover Buddhism and to reject the Catholicism with which I was raised. The concepts just made sense. I connected the dots between the idea that attachment is suffering with all the expectations and limitations we put on the people we’re supposed to love – including ourselves.

It has occurred to me recently that it is very likely, bordering on certainty, that my personal karma and development through my past lives, and that my parents’ development through theirs, connected us in these lifetimes. That is to say, yes I learned about relationships from them, but if I had, in my previous lives, moved past such wisdom, I would not need to have acquired it in this one. And the same goes for them of course.

That said, here I am now. Somehow having gathered, at my age, a few gems of wisdom that they still lack. I say this not with any pretense, but to simply state the facts. Which leads us to the recent past.

About two years ago, my mother, who has for most of my life lived far away from me, was visiting family and friends on vacation. She noticed my Human Rights Campaign bumper sticker (the yellow = sign with blue around it) and asked what it meant. When I told her, she immediately blurted out, betraying the fear that courses through her daily, “They don’t think you’re gay, do they????” referring, apparently, to other drivers.

I told her it didn’t particularly matter to me. She didn’t respond to that, but likely kept it in mind as “evidence.” Later, for a reason I can’t quite recall, I mentioned the fact that I had many lesbian friends. This distressed her. Why on Earth would a young man have all sorts of lesbians for friends??? He MUST be gay!

Or so she told one of her sisters, as well as one of her brothers. Neither of them confronted me with this information, as they do not really care about such things, being social liberals from the Northeast. My aunt’s daughter, however, the cousin I am closest with, let me know (as happens so often) that my mother was out there telling everybody some supposed information that nobody is sure what to make of; this time the message was that I’m gay.

I called up my mother and asked her if this was true, that she was spreading rumors. She denied that it was. She then proceeded to ask a weird question about the success of the new relationship I was having with a woman (women being the gender I’ve always had relationships with, though I do identify as bisexual), and to suggest that if it isn’t going well sexually then there was probably a reason. I skirted around the bizarre sex question, as it certainly wasn’t something I wanted to talk about with my mother, though I did admit that I wouldn’t classify myself as straight.

In any event, it was obvious from her questioning that she was lying. She was lying to my face, and was further insulting me by pretending that I didn’t know she was lying. That I couldn’t see through the facade.

I have recently renewed my relationship with the uncle in question. He is a wise man, and has devoted his life to seeking pieces of the truth, wherever they may be. In one of his emails he confirmed my mother’s misplaced hysteria, and we talked further about the unbalanced state of mind she is in.

While I cherish the relationship I will continue to develop with him, it dawned on me when reading his message: I will never have a sane, remotely-well-adjusted relationship with the woman who birthed me. She is, quite plainly, psychotic. Incapable of acknowledging the truth, even if it were presented to her in a way that is obvious. I have suspected this to be the case long before now, but the confirmation I received drove the point home.

So many people walk their lives in incredible fear. My mother was sexually, physically, and verbally abused as a child, as were her siblings. This is obviously a huge part of her fear. My grandparents were sadistic, and also suffered greatly. My grandfather was shot in the neck on Iwo Jima, but survived and had my mother and aunts and uncles; yet, he became obsessed with death, even going so far as to drunkenly put a loaded gun in the mouths of his children.

He died when I was very young. So it goes. Or I would have likely kicked his ass myself by now. At least, that’s what I’ve always told myself. But he was clearly already going through abject misery, and took it out on those he “loved.” He beat my grandmother so severely that she left the family and didn’t show up again for more than 40 years. I have only ever seen her once in my lifetime. She was quite drunk at the time.

But the relationships many of the people in my family have had reminds me of people being interrogated who refer to their interrogators as their “friends.” How amazingly warped. And to be related to such warped people is a very odd experience indeed.

Now I come to the whole point of all this – forgiveness. I may never have the relationship I want with my mother, but what is it that I really “want”? I realize there is no need to be attached to any need I thought I had of this world.

There is nothing here, nothing in this emptiness, as we are all one, separated from our Source and lost in a dream. Perceiving ourselves as separate, projecting our fear onto everyone and everything we encounter. Always finding someway to place blame elsewhere for our suffering. So it is with my mother, and so it has been with all of us.

But I forgive. It is all a dream. In truth, it has not happened. None of any of this has happened.

That is not to say we shouldn’t strive to make the dream better, for we still have so much suffering to undo; but let us not become so believing in the suffering that we make it real.

I have not been wronged, for there is nobody out there to wrong me. It is only me here, the one “me” that is all of us. Any honest appraisal of “judge not, lest ye be judged” acknowledges that the real meaning of that phrase is that there is nobody else to judge – only yourself. You are your brother, and he is you.

So long as I make something that has “happened” to me real, I feel the suffering from it, and judge the perpetrator. In this case, my mother, who I should instead be forgiving for what she has not, in truth, done.

Here I shall end. I hope my wanderings have not been without merit.

Peace and forgiveness to you all, my brothers and sisters who are one with me.


    • Anima on June 23, 2009 at 03:59

    do tips here?

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