Loving the Toxic and a Personal Failure 

If only I could disappear. 
I happened to have vented near the wrong person yesterday. Nothing I thought was a big deal, but of course it was about a friend of mine and the facts were left out and things got tainted in the retelling. So word got back to her, and she was pretty upset. When I found out I called her immediately and let her yell her feelings at me for a while. She had a right to be angry. I had a moment of disapproval that I shot off to someone who had no right to know it. I told her I was sorry and she was right. I took responsibility for my actions. 

I spent a good long time afterward on the phone with my boyfriend. He listened, like a Saint. Assured me I did all I could. Reminded me I was not a bad person, I just slipped up for a moment and it got out of control. My mother told me the same when I called her. Told me I wasn’t an aweful human being, even though my heart told me I was worthless. I wounded a hurting person. In turn I wounded myself. 

I felt terrible…feel terrible. Of all the people to hurt in the world, I hurt the one who’s wounds run deepest. Who’s morals were shaky. Who’s mind was easily swayed by the emotions of how something is presented, and not the actual words of what is said. In turn she decided to tell me everything that’s wrong with me. How I’m “cocky” (confident) and how I’m “judgmental” (ironic how one has to be judging in order to say someone is judging them). I told her that I’d consider those views thoughtfully. Perhaps she was right? Perhaps she was just too hurt to think and evaluate clearly. All I knew was she had thought those things of me, and probably talked to people about me behind my back. All the accusations she has made to me, I knew she herself had committed. I said nothing though. What would saying something have done to help? What would it justify? It wouldn’t. I remained silent. I silently forgave her. 

Part of me feels the trust is too far gone from our friendship for her criticisms to bother me too much. To be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever trusted her. She fears depth. She is gossipy. Her lifestyle is different than mine. She isn’t going to understand how I live. I know I don’t understand how she does. I don’t have her struggles and I don’t have her desires and emotions. I can’t know her fully. So yes, I disapprove of her lifestyle out of a combination of ignorance and having watched her choices destroy herself. If that bothers her, only she can choose if she wants me to stay in her life. In turn only I can choose to have her stay in mine. I care very much for her, but perhaps she will always choose what is toxic over what is right. In turn I have to decide what place that puts me in, and if I can live with her making those choices. 
Can I love someone who is toxic nearby? Or do I choose to love her from a distance? 

I still feel very badly about it. It’s unresolved and broken. Part of my faith in God leads me to believe that I am responsible to Him for how I made her feel. I’ve asked to be forgiven. I’ve asked for her heart to be healed. I’ve asked for mine to be healed, because heaven knows that I struggle to forgive myself for things. I failed, but I cannot sit and dwell on my failure. I’m trying to move forward. 
Pray for me. 

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There Are No Soul Mates

At risk of sounding unromantic I have never been sold on the idea of soul mates. I actually find the idea of soul mates to be lacking in romance entirely. Think about it. Being destined to love someone no matter what you do? Sounds a lot like force. Mind control. More or less a curse. Why would someone chain themselves to being forever love locked to one person out of billions of people in the world?

I recall a conversation where a coworker of mine spoke of her, then ex boyfriend. How he had said he wasn’t over his last relationship, that had been six years ago, claiming that the person he lost, even though she was now married and had a family, was his soul mate. In my head I kept pondering how bogus it all sounded. It sounded like it was his excuse to not be in a relationship. His way of taking himself out of the game, or at the very least, away from my coworker. It was a lie. It had to be.

How is it possible that the one person perfect for you happened to live so close to you that you meet? How is that chance even possible out of the billions in the world? Besides, how can imperfect beings be perfect for one another? They’re imperfect! How about people who marry a second time after a lover has died? Are they not their soul mate? Oh, and my least favorite is when people say their soul mate completes them. Really? Completes you? How little do you think of yourself that what completes you is defined by another human being? Especially one who is imperfect and will fail you.

One of the girls I hung out with a bunch in college was taking a philosophy class. She asked me if love was more true when it was a feeling or a choice? Her scenario explained a man who fell out of love with his wife, but pretended to love her still after all his feelings left him. I told her I thought it was a greater act of love to continue to pretend to love someone, even when the feelings were gone, because he chose to sacrifice his own desires to seek someone else. He let go of self for the whole. That seemed like real love to me. Especially because I theorized that pretending to love would eventually spark those feelings again if a person was willing to be open to those feelings.

What seems much more romantic to me, is love by choice. It sounds terribly practical of me. Lacking in any kind of mystery and romance by the standard of most people. I cannot see how a soul mate could exist. Even when I fail, even when I am having an unattractive day, even when my soul is uglier than the worst creatures known, they choose me. It’s not mind control. It’s not destiny. It’s a choice. I mean, people get divorced. People get married and have difficult marriages. Even God let’s me choose if I love Him or not! So why is it so hard for people to think that love is a choice?

I wonder if it is because of fear? Are people afraid to take responsibility for their relationships? Do they want it to be someone or something else’s fault that things don’t work? I can’t say, but if that is true, it is sad that people feel they can make choices and then walk away from the responsibility. What do they think is going to happen? Do they think if they say it was a fate thing, that it removes the repercussions? Can people be that foolish?

Or am I just asking too many specific questions that there are no answers for?

Without Anger

I was confused. Upset by her reaction. The silent treatment never made sense to me. All I had said was that I didn’t appreciate being asked a question and then spoken over when I was trying to answer it. That didn’t seem wrong to express. I asked if she was upset. Just to confirm. She walked away from me saying nothing. It spoke volumes (as cliche as it sounds to say, there is no less truth in it). But the silent treatment? What are we, twelve? I folded another piece of laundry. Mulling over everything in the scenario again. I was hurt mostly. Hurt because all I asked was to allow my voice to be heard. I never told her to never speak again. I only asked to be able to finish my sentence. But then again, perhaps there was something more going on. Something deeper.

I had decided that laundry was a better solution to being upset than pulling a beer out of the fridge (risking alcoholism) or weeping in my room alone( risking self pity) or worse…which I don’t feel like talking about right now. I tend to clean and organize when I am upset, and between the hurt of getting the silent treatment, and the copious amounts of soda I had drank that day, I was up while they went to bed. She never said goodnight. I hadn’t expected it. All I knew is there was laundry to be done in the basement, and Heaven knows we all need clothes to wear.

As I pulled the clothes out, I found myself contemplating my own actions more. I was not perfect. I did speak severely to her. I wasn’t completely innocent in all things, but I felt like the silent treatment was an over reaction. I had asked her if she was upset. I had given her opportunity to freely express herself, unlike what she had offered me at the time. I hung a shirt. What did I do wrong? I hung another shirt. What could I do differently? I pulled a shirt off the hanger and looked a the quote on the front.

“It isn’t anybody else’s fault.”

My dad had gotten that shirt from the men’s retreat several years ago. It was one of my favorite quotes, because it had always made me feel a little more triumphant. Giving me that sense of yeah, take ownership of your mistakes whenever dad did something that really upset me. Now it was speaking directly to me. I was getting it. It was painful, but it was getting it.

Apologies don’t come with buts in them. One isn’t meant to say I am sorry for…but you did… fill in the blank. That isn’t an apology with sincerity. That is a futile attempt to justify actions, making them seem a little more while the other persons actions seem a little less. Every part of me wanted to be that person. To be the one who would go in guns blazing and tell her off. I’m sorry I offended you, but you offended me. It wasn’t going to bring peace or justice though. I knew that. It would cause more conflict. But what was going to offer resolution, was forgiveness. I had to say sorry, not because what I did was unjust, or even wrong, but because another human beings feelings were the collateral damage of how I had conducted myself, and only I was responsible for that. She was allowed to feel how she was feeling. So was I. But was it worth harboring?

I have a terrible habit of keeping lists of wrongs. Something I have had a very hard time breaking, and I am a work in progress on that one. It has hurt a lot of my relationships with my family members, and I realize that now more than ever. So I had to make that painful, but obvious choice. Why? Because, sometimes loving people means taking a sincere and apologetic dive. Hurting your pride. Letting go of your own pain for the sake of another. Offering yourself without justifications and excuses, as a person who is imperfect and broken.

It is the most painful thing one can do, but it is also the most freeing.

I finished the laundry. All of it. Every last piece was folded and placed in each family members basket. I hoped she would be glad to have one less thing to do in the morning. Even if she wasn’t glad, it was done, because it was necessary to do. I walked upstairs and put my ear to my parents door. It was silent, but for the hum of the fan my mother put on for white noise as she slept. I would apologize tomorrow. Tonight was too fresh, and it was not worth the conflict of being too tired to really be sorry.

I tried to go to bed without anger.