Over the weekend, I participated in a workshop on anger and forgiveness. It’s so easy for me to call up those feelings of anger. We all like to think of ourselves as being able to rise above this feeling, but honestly there are those times when I can acknowledge the enjoyment of feeling aggrieved. Over time, this becomes a drag though.
In considering forgiveness, I simultaneously felt ready to move into that space, and totally fearful about this possibility. I have invested a lot of identity, for example, in having been hurt by my family for being gay, for being the lavender/black sheep if you will. Who will Richard/Azimuth/Frostwolf be without this grievance?
When I was heavy, I was afraid of feeling like there’d be nothing left to me if I let go of the weight. Using my spiritual tools, this idea of losing my identity is just one way my ego tries to control matters. I got to a place where I had to make a change, I was desperate. I’m not really desperate in this situation where forgiveness is concerned, but I’m aware that I need to let things go because they are keeping me stuck. I hesitate to put myself out there as an available fellow, as someone who can be present in a relationship.
Part of the issue with the family-of-origin is that old dysfunctional saw about the roles we got to play along the way. I was mostly the Hero, but also Father Confessor and then, with the understanding that I was gay, the Scapegoat. I have been aware that the family-of-origin set me up to be a human punching bag. The one relationship I’ve had featured some of this dynamic, but it was very subtle. I didn’t really live authentically from myself in that relationship. Over time I saw I really had no choice but to try to find my authenticity, which is a struggle. In an alcoholic/compulsive eating/compulsive indenture home, one can not really see who one is in reality. There are these different roles to be slotted into, and if one doesn’t want to be slotted into a role, there’s always the Rebel. That’s a role too! The Rebel sees other elements of their personality chopped off and given to someone else in the family, because the last thing dysfunctional families want are whole people.
We have to be broken in order to live in that reality.
My journey last year into Intentional Community living revealed to me the difficulty in setting up an I.C. that could stand the test of time. There are all sorts of ways invidiousness can subvert process. As much as people want to live cohesively and coherently, the ways in which each of us has been broken shows us the long road ahead toward creating a better life with others in community. It’s not going to be an easy way forward for any of us, and if we seek to find a way to build bonds with others who have similar viewpoints, we still have to find out how each of us has been hurt, and whether or not we have the strength, resilience, honesty and ability to accept others that will enable us to support others in their healing processes, as well as seeing if they can be allies in our own.
When I was at one of the IC’s last year, I saw that two people formed a tag-team bully relationship. People walked on eggshells around these two individuals, and they knew how to speak the lingo that made them seem like they were the reasonable ones. They were quite adept at shifting burdens and blame onto unpopular individuals. I never felt comfortable around these two people, and saw them as people with problems. The interesting part of this consideration for me today is that I don’t want these people living rent free in my head. I’m actually grateful to them for showing me how hard it is to really live with other people.
They made me appreciate my time in a tent in the forest when I needed to be by myself.
I see that I have some rankle about these two people, as well as some of the other experiences I had in IC’s more generally. The disgruntlement is really more about myself though, how I have this stupid and self-obsessed ego that wants to control matters, that believes it has the answers. I tell myself that I don’t, but the ego has this little hold on me. In my body, I can feel it’s wedged just in the top of my heart, right where the aorta feeds the pumping muscle. I wish that the ego could unclutch at times, but that takes some awareness and a bit of self-talk.
Today, though, that person I am when I’m in my ego is not really who I wish to be. I see that forgiveness will be worth it.
And as far as the fellow who emerges as I release these bits of unprotective armor? I’m curious to find out who he is, and what skills and abilities my lack of forgiveness thus far has been keeping from me.
It’s time to see another layer of skin to be shed in this time of transformation.