In order for forgiveness to happen, something has to die. If you make a choice to forgive, you have to face into the pain. You simply have to hurt. – Brene Brown
Thirty Days of Forgiveness, as explained by my post on Oct. 27th, is no longer a practice in identifying people to forgive (including myself). It is now a practice in asking and answering these questions:
- What must die in order for me to forgive Them + Me? Expectations? Victimhood? Dreams/demands? Blame? The way it is supposed to be? The need to be right? Awesome stories of how I was wronged? Awesome stories of how I screwed up?
- If to forgive is to love, am I ready to love Them + Me? I mean really, there are some people/things we have no interest in loving—ever! Am I right? You know I’m right. I know I’m right.
- What pain must I face in order for me to forgive Them + Me? I’m sure the first question will fill in that blank easily enough.
- Am I willing to write publicly about it?
What must die?
The assertion that I did not deserve to be bullied. Being deserving or undeserving really has nothing to do with it. If I claim that I didn’t deserve to be bullied it implies that some people do deserve it. Who deserves to be bullied? No one? Then this is a pointless claim.
If to forgive them is to love, can I love those who bullied me?
One step at a time, I guess. Human beings are hardwired for herding. Group bullying is a type of behavioral herding. Individual bullying is sometimes competition. Sometimes it is an ill-conceived coping mechanism; a distorted rationale. Sometimes it is emotional off-loading. In any case, bullying is a learned behavior and we live in a culture that justifies it on one hand and condemns it on the other. We call it a horrible crime when an innocent child is being bullying but we’ve got little remorse for adults bullying someone we think “had it coming” or “asked for it” or whom we believe earned it in some way. How many times do we laugh it off as harmless? How many times do we insist that some thin-skinned crybaby just get over it and get a life? Learn how to take a joke? How many times do we overlook the bullying of the proverbial Stupid People? Weak People? Sick People? People Who Should Know Better? Bullying is either wrong or it isn’t. We muddy the waters when we attach stipulations to justify some bullying and then cry foul when bullying morphs out of bounds. I can understand how so many mixed messages produce contradictory ethics, especially in those whose ethics were still developing. I probably can’t call this love yet, but I have softened.
What pain must I face?
I didn’t teach anyone not to bully me. I didn’t demand that the bullying stop. I did nothing to stop the bullying. Not a damn thing. I set a precedent by taking it and taking it and taking it. I never fought back. I never asked for help. I just took it all. After the first incident I made it easy for more bullying to follow. I treated myself worse than the bullies by refusing to value myself enough to get out, get away, get help, fight back, anything other than rolling over and letting it continue to happen. I acted as if I deserved it. I thought I did deserve it for being such an awful misfit, so terminally terrible. Coming to the eventual conclusion that I didn’t deserve to be bullied by others didn’t absolve me of the self-inflicted torture or the way I submitted to humiliation as a lifestyle choice. I still walked around hating who I was, as in “I know I suck. I know. But can’t you find a way to tolerate me? Please? Anybody?” That bullshit right there was every bit as damaging as the bullying itself.
Can I own this publicly?