On the penultimate day of the year, I find myself verkelmpt, spontaneously expressing gratitude to those I love, those I know well, those I’ve connected with once or twice, those whose lives boggle my mind with their strength and goodness, to whose examples I aspire.
The counting of time is, of course, an artificial human construct. Have you ever seen a platypus with an atomic watch, or a tortoise hauling around a sundial for that matter? When so many of us humans think about the same thing at the same moment, tho, the counting down of a year, the birth of hope and intent, I cannot help but be drawn into the vortex, willingly, sentimentally perhaps. My father said I cried at supermarket openings. Think about it, the wealth of possibility there. I cry when happy and I cry when grateful and I laugh with heretofore unknown synchronicities. At the ending of the current count, the beginning of the next, I wish you everything you wish your enemies.
No, that’s not a curse.
Over the past couple of years, a person set out to do me wrong. It was a perfect confluence of his and my insanities, of the unconscious everyday societal misogyny and his wish to self-destruct while blaming others for that happenstance. He succeeded beyond his wildest dreams, convinced at every turn that someone in a position of greater power than his would stop him, so that he could remain true to his destructive wish yet keep up his appearance of “nice guy.” Well, nobody wanted to be the bad-guy, even those whose responsibility his behavior ultimately rested with – which is a different appalling story – and he did me irreparable harm. Neither he nor anyone else in his life appears to hold him accountable, and I’m not in a position of societal or professional power – hence, my frustration at the lies and evil I’ve been subjected to (evil being his beautifully persuasive tongue, which paints a picture of me just accurate enough to make plausible actions I’ve never taken, things I’ve never said).
I became livid. I think you’d be incensed, too, if the manure spread around your small town, your small society targeted you in insidious ways. Even as the years go by, even as I’m exonerated, wisps of taint will trail after me. The half-life of lies rivals that of plutonium.
I found myself wishing this person all sorts of awful outcomes, experiences, illnesses, some related to the situation and some not-so-. I hated how I felt, the trains of thought that sucked me down, grabbed me unawares, the amount of time I wasted, how that waste fed on itself by what had become mental habit. I stopped creating. I wished him everything he was wishing me. In spades. And then I thought, no matter what happens next, he’s won. I’ve been infused with his personal poison.
In recent years (I’m a little slow) I’ve realized that if I subtract emotion from a social equation, I’m more likely to see and respond to what’s actually going on, rather than being influenced by my own or others’ desires or lacks. So I reduced the whole wretched mess to the least common denominator and it boiled down to the thing I’ve hoped for since his deeds and words began: that he be held accountable. I spent no little time examining this conclusion, hoping to ensure that it was the One True Thing – because his belief in his lies to himself is what makes his narrative believable to others. If I went on in that vein, I would transform fully into him, his weaknesses, his follies, his head-up-the-assedness.
Which may be what he wanted in the first place, to Dorian-Gray his sordid darkness in the hope of being cleansed. Kind of like those men in Africa who believe that fucking a virgin will cure them of AIDS.
Forgiving does not mean forgetting, it means accepting what happened and moving on. Throughout my life, I have held myself accountable for my words and deeds and desires, and have asked nothing of others not asked of myself. I still want him held accountable, but that’s not my purview. I’ve cleansed the taint from this end.
I did send him a little Christmas note, which read, “I wish for you accountability, and of course everything you wish for me.”
I hope that’s not a curse.