Sunday, November 25, 2012

in which I speak vaguely of hard things and forgiveness and God

I seem to be awake at three A.M. a lot these days.
It's probably a side effect of meds, but I'm having a lot of trouble falling asleep. If I take a pill to fall asleep, I still wake up at three in the morning.

I think about a lot of things at three AM: what I'm going to eat for breakfast, what homework I need to do, this damn 30 days list.

On the off chance you haven't noticed, my plan to write things every day is not going so well. It's not for lack of free time, or even lack of commitment- the problem is that I don't want to answer some of the questions on this list I chose myself.
Well, one question in particular:

Number eighteen- What has been the most difficult thing you have had to forgive?

This is a question that I think about at three AM; but not because I don't know the answer.

So now I'm going to skip ahead and try and answer this question, because I think maybe I need to, and because I'm allowed to break out of order on my own blog.

This is me, speaking vaguely of hard things and forgiveness and God.

If you've known me for any significant period of time, you probably already know that I'm quick to offend and slow to forgive.  I've probably expected you to mutually hate someone with me based off a minor miscommunication. Basically, I have the social skills of a middle schooler, and it's likely that I always will. However, once I've forgiven a wrong-doing, whether actual or perceived, it's like it never happened.  I've always considered that to be one of my better traits.

But there is one thing that, no matter how much I feel I've forgiven, I keep coming back to.

When I was fifteen, I experienced an injustice that threw my world off of it's axis. I'm not going to go into detail here- this is not a event in my life I like to talk about with anyone, no matter how much I love them. Not even myself.
I was the victim of other people's choices, and in a way I was robbed of the right to make my own.

I don't know if I will ever fully forgive this.

For a while, I really thought I had-  I'd tried to rationalize the actions of my transgressors, tried to understand the social, political, psychological, and emotional aspects that would drive someone to those actions. I thought I had it figured out, thought I had let it go.

And really, I was okay for a while. But after a few years, I started running into triggers- a name in a book, an overheard piece of conversation, a familiar scent- that would set me off, and I would completely lose it. If you're looking to test your conversation skills, try explaining to the management of your gym why you've spent the past ten minutes in their locker room, sobbing so hard that you can't breathe.

I may always be one word away from rage, from paralyzing fear, from a sadness so deep it will swallow you whole.

That's one of the bigger things I struggle to forgive- not that I was hurt, but that I was hurt at a time in my life that would effect my entire adult being. I once spoke with a woman much wiser than myself who had experienced a childhood trauma, and one thing she said in particular stood out to me: "Maybe I would have been someone who laughs."
Maybe I would have been someone who trusts. Maybe I would have been someone capable of maintaining a healthy relationship. Maybe I would have been someone who laughs.

There are countless resources I've pursued in my search for forgiveness: a lot of books, a hell of a lot of therapy, God.

Oh, God.

I was once a devout and unquestioning Mormon. Granted, I was fourteen at that time, so I think that hardly counts. But I was. I believed that I was born to experience hard things, and that belief helped me cope with several aspects of my life, from moving every few years to my quickly blossoming mental illness. I believed that how I reacted to these things would ultimately lead to blessings and happiness later in life.

When I was fifteen I believed that I was born to experience hard things; things so hard I would not know how to handle them on my own. I believed that when the time came, I would be able to turn to my religion to get through them. But when I sought my religion out for support, it did not come through for me. God still loves you, their mouths said, while their actions screamed: But we do not.
After a while of finding no relief, my beliefs shifted. I still believed in God- I always have, I always will- I just didn't think he was particularly concerned with me. I'd be lying if I said I don't still feel this way, some days.

I also started to think that if God wasn't worried about me, maybe I shouldn't spend so much time worrying about him. I still went to church most of the time, but I also started to seek relief from other, ultimately harmful sources. I thought a lot about suicide.

This is what I looked like at fifteen. I loved scented lotion and mystery novels and sufjan stevens. I also tore tiny holes in my skin and tried to think of a way to kill myself without having to make my whole family fly back to the States. 

I'm twenty years old now, twenty-one in a week in a half. I am once again a practicing Mormon. I still believe in God. 
I also have a folder of tattoo ideas, and when I'm not respectfully restraining myself I swear like a sailor.  I don't think this makes me a bad person. I don't even think this makes me a bad Mormon.

I believe in a religion of justice, and mercy, and love, and forgiveness. 

I know those qualities are not always reflected by the members of my religion. I am becoming okay with that. I still occasionally walk out of a meeting being governed by opinion and not doctrine, but I am trying. 

I believe that the God I pray to views our actions on a case by case basis. I believe the God I pray to is one of ultimate understanding and forgiveness. I personally don't think the God I converse with would be inclined to send someone to hell for drinking coffee, or marrying a person of the same gender, or even for hurting someone the way I was once hurt. 

I still don't understand why I've had to experience certain parts of my life. I am still learning to forgive. 

I believe that I was born to do hard things. 

What has been the most difficult thing you have had to forgive?

I know we had this talk at three this morning, but I forgive you, God. 

In the Sun- Michael Stipe & Chris Martin

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