This is a letter that is long overdue. I honestly didn’t realize how much my actions had impacted you and how my lack of awareness resulted in me saying and doing things that were hurtful. That this went on for so long is just a sign of how much I needed to grow and mature and become more self-confident. I placed unrealistic expectations, over-the-top demands, and unfair judgments onto your actions. I punished you for trying and failing—and for succeeding. But now, in the face of new lessons learned, old lessons reinforced, and in the midst of a renewing Christmas Spirit I need to say how sorry I am for how I hurt you. Sorry for how I abdicated my role as an emotionally mature and stable to adult to outside forces and for the manner in which I reacted rather than observed and used words like wrong or unfair or guilt or shame when I should have stayed silent and just watched without reaction.
I have always had a suspicion that my efforts to grow would lead me to this action. They say somewhere in one of those famous steps you are supposed to write letters of apology to those you have hurt. I understand now why that is such an important step, but also why it is so difficult. Even to know that you need to is the product of experiences and learning and crying and feeling so lost in the blackness that you wonder if there will ever again be light, much less a way out.
However, even in the books, they do not tell you to whom the first letter apology is owed. They cannot tell you. That is a realization which must be lived. It can only be known in those places in your heart and soul where you feel truth. The places the poet touches or the cello player in a cathedral or that are seen in the deep blue lingering flame of a Christmas Candle. It is in those caverns where the stalactites are records of ancient truths known but forgotten. Truths that reveal that the person we harm so greatly—the person who we punish more often and more harshly than any other—is ourselves.
It is only our own light that we so often snuff out for a moment or a lifetime in the face of fear and sadness and longing. It is only our own lamp over which we throw a sheet, hoping the neighbors don’t notice the cobwebs and the debris and the decay. It is only our own potential that we wrap in paper and hide in the back of the freezer like stolen gains of a long ago bank heist. But, if we are lucky we come to learn that our light is not meant to be hidden. If we are to be true to who we are—whose we are—our light must be allowed to fill up our own house and be shared with the world.
Only then, when we accept these truths can we know the purpose we have and the role we must fulfil. Only then will we feel—in those corners of our soul—the most important message of all: “I may be hurt, but I am not harmed”—lost from our childhood is the lesson that the monsters under the bed are not real. Instead of living through that power, we too often move the monster out from under the bed into every other part of our lives. And, fearing that we shall be destroyed or disappointed, we try so very hard to hide from all the places the monster may lie. Slowly, our worlds become full of monsters—and the tsunami of fear overflows everything in its path—most of all—peace. So whenever we think we are in the midst of the thing that will do us harm- we defend, we “fight” and we react—just the same as the five year old at the parent’s door begging to not have to return alone to the scary blackness of his room. Little does he know how much he will laugh in later years at the story, or how we will repeat the same actions in different ways while wearing a suit and tie with framed souvenirs of success on his walls. Only the names of the monsters really change.
Why can the monsters not harm us—whether five or thirty five? Whether under the bed, in the boardroom or sitting across from us on valentine’s day ending a relationship that never existed in the first place? Because none of it matters. Not one single solitary bit. Does that make it right that someone is rude or insensitive—no. Does it make it okay they use you or don’t call you back or that they will never treat you the way you deserve. No. But it is something we cannot change. The only hope we can have is to change our reaction to it. If we latch on and cling to the injury the wound will never heal. If we let it pass over us like the crashing wave, stop the fight and the bitter longing for control, we will bob along till the next one, and all those after. And maybe, we will create an environment in which our awareness and the other persons can grow. Either way, to fight and claw and stammer and stop has no good outcome, no matter what monster, no matter what age.
But, whom do we punish most of all with our reactive, judging selves. Our inability to let go. The answer has been this year’s greatest Christmas Gift. To learn that I have punished myself far too harshly, judged my actions—built my own castle of shame. Failed to love who I must love first. And from that unwise step, I have set myself up for so many tragedies, big and small. The stories of legend. Not of a superhero saving the kingdom. But of a king who nearly burned his own castle down, without so much as single arrow from the black knight to show for the battle.
I suppose I do owe an apology or thank you to more than a few other people. I was often too demanding in my expectations, especially when their awareness was different than mine. When their actions failed to meet my expectations, rather than show love, I reacted—hurt and wounded like a sorry animal. Rather than open and observant like a human. I am learning now. I will try to do better. But to those of you who pushed me along the path, I must also say that I am not saying I was wrong for not ending up with you. I was only unwise in how I reacted to the lesson and experience you offered. Perhaps if I had been different, things would have turned out different. Or, perhaps, if you had acted differently, been more understanding with me, then things would have been different. Who knows? For the past, is past.
In this moment I am focused on myself. On forgiving me for what I have done. Trying to move forward in a place of peace and awareness and looking at things much more simply. Does it help me be the better me, then it is something I should do or continue. If it does not, then I must let it go. That is what our life requires—to clean out the junk and the clutter of our heart and spirit so that the sun may shine in and so that we may shine out.