By Piper Ahern
I sit here wondering what it is I need to forgive.
And what it even means. Because while it seems like it should be more about me, I have a hard time not believing it is about someone else as well.
Have I been wronged? Or perhaps just failed? A negligence that aches because of the feelings it triggers. Insignificance. Unimportance. Indifference. Unworthiness. Shame. Guilt. Sadness.
I feel like I have been failed because of who I am. Because of what is wrong with me. Some inherent flaw that leaves me open to being wounded time and again.
I want to be able to forgive. Because so much of what was done was not intentional. But in some ways that seems worse. At least an intentional injury would have been evidence that I was significant. That what happened to me mattered. That you could see how it could have harmed me in some way.
But the silence, the indifference—it was razor sharp.
Your continued insistence that you did the best you could is not a comfort to me. If anything, it is further proof of how little I mattered. Because sometimes your best isn’t good enough. And that is not to cast blame.
It is simply a truth.
Some days we try our damnedest and fight like hell and we still fall short. We fail. Not for a lack of trying, but for any number of other reasons. Continuously holding up your shield of “trying your best” is dismissive. Because the truth is—you failed me. With your words and with your silences.
Yet, it is not the failure that I struggle with, it is your unwillingness to see it—to recognize it.
To own it.
To apologize for falling short despite your best efforts. I know it is asking too much. Expecting too much. But that is where I get stuck.
Perhaps I don’t need to forgive you. Because the truth is, I don’t blame you for the abuse that I was endlessly subjected to. I don’t even blame you for not stopping it or recognizing it. I can appreciate the uncertainty and the worry and the veil of denial you existed in.
I blame you for how you reacted when you found out.
I blame you for simultaneously isolating me and ignoring me. You took all of the protection I needed as a child and used it to build a wall around me once the truth surfaced. I needed to be held. I needed to be heard. And seen. And understood. And yes, you did try your best. And I cannot imagine what it was like for you, but I also would like for you to just once consider what it may have been like for me as well.
You told people who could have supported me and broken into my shell of loneliness not to speak to me about the horrors that had been inflicted on me. Or perhaps worse, you told them nothing at all.
I was ensconced by a shroud of silence where I remained alone and unreachable. My suffering unworthy of acknowledgement. No one able to voice support. To acknowledge my pain. Or to tell me it was not my fault. I was left to feel like I was not believed. And that no one cared. And that I had ruined everything by telling the truth. You allowed me to feel ostracized and ashamed and broken.
Unlovable. Untouchable. Unimportant. And insignificant.
And yet, I will reiterate, I still do not blame you for the abuse. I blame you for leaving me alone to negotiate my way through the trauma and for not understanding my anger and frustration.
You failed me.
Despite your best efforts and doing all that you could, it was not enough. But you refuse to admit that you failed me in some ways. Your admissions of mistakes are always followed by a justification. Some rationalization that explains nothing more than why this was never about me.
And it never will be.
I don’t necessarily feel like I need to forgive you. Not because I am harboring some resentments against you, but because for the most part I have made peace with the fact that this was my past, but it will not be my future. I cannot go back and get the protection from you that I deserved. I cannot make you see this through my eyes. And I cannot even explain to you how it has impacted my life and continues to every single day. Because you are incapable of that.
And that makes me sad.
Not even because of how it has impacted me, but because it leaves you so disconnected and removed from the depths of human experience. You will forever put yourself first—even as you loudly exclaim all that you do for everyone else—it is still about you. And it always will be.
I guess I wish for once you could understand how isolating and invalidating and hurtful this was and continues to be. But you cannot. So do I forgive you for being you? I am not sure that is my place. I needed more from you. I deserved more from you.
And yes, I do believe you did the best you could. But I also know that it wasn’t enough. And no matter how hard I try and how much I suffer, I cannot force people to open their eyes and see themselves in the mirror.
I do wish things had been different. But they cannot be. Because they have already happened. The past is just that—the past. Regardless, the shadows it still casts are far reaching and continue to keep me struggling to find the light. But that is on me, not you. I learned long ago that you were unwilling to light my torch when I was struggling in the dark.
So, maybe there is nothing to forgive you for. I know you will never really hear my words, just like you refuse to honor my silences.
The only difference is now, I get to make that decision for myself, without having to consistently hear how you did the best you could.
*Post originally published on Some Talk of You & Me
Editor: Ty H Phillips