It’s been one of those weeks again, when I find myself wandering the labyrinth inside my mind. And like any good labyrinth, it contains an oubliette. “…a place you put things to forget about them.” We all have them; small dark corners of our hearts where we tuck away emotions, and seemingly inescapable dungeons in our brains where we bury memories. I know that they exist, so I try to avoid them if at all possible. Yet, here I am, exactly where I’ve been for days only, perhaps, slightly deeper into the chasm and faced with a quandary: which way is right, and which way is wrong?
In the course of the last two years, I have experienced a great deal of loss. Some of these losses were felt solely by me, while other losses were shared with family and/or friends. Some were physical losses, some emotional, some physiological, some financial, some psychological, some spiritual, and so forth. It’s been one hell of a ride. I have found ways to overcome certain situations. You play the hand you’re dealt, right? Other times, circumstances were beyond my control and there was nothing left to do but grieve. And grieve I did. Sometimes I still do. I’ve lost a father. I’ve lost a brother. I’ve lost friends (some by choice, others, not so much). Not a day goes by that I don’t miss them. Like the song said, “There’s Always Something There to Remind Me.”
There are those who have supported me by saying what they think, or what they think I want/need to hear. They console me by tearing others down, “It’s their loss.” But, even though that may be the case for some, I no longer feel that way. I no longer harbor any ill will towards…well…anyone, really. In fact, I’m not sure I ever truly did. I am aware of my shortcomings. And I take full responsibility for my words and actions. I wouldn’t call it a case of “it’s not you, it’s me”, exactly, but there is some truth to that.
Don’t get me wrong. I do not take responsibility for the hurtful things that others have done. I am not justifying anyone’s actions. A very wise man once said, “Life’s too short not to call an asshole an asshole.” But, I can only own myself. What’s done is done. And I have to believe that everything happens for a reason. People will come and go from our lives, in and out, ceaselessly like the tides. I’m starting to accept the fact that more damage is done trying to hold on to people–or things–than there is in letting them go. Every once in a while, you discover that a person you thought had vacated your universe is still floating around in your galaxy–and it’s not as bad as you thought it would be. Sure, it can be awkward, but only if you let it. It’s nice when people can let go of the pettiness and learn to coexist. It started to feel like the so-called “circle of friends” resembled the circles of hell from Dante’s Inferno. Now, I imagine the circles as part of an elaborate Venn diagram. And I’m okay with that.
I have to be careful, though. It seems like every time I start to sound “healthy” or as though I finally have a grasp on life and things are moving in the right direction, I trip and fall back into the oubliette. Maybe it’s because I turned a corner and saw a familiar face. Maybe I read a comment on Facebook. Maybe I found an old box of photos. Maybe…
That’s when the downward spiral begins. I begin to second guess myself. I start questioning the motives of others. Paranoia sets in and walls go up. I start every thought with the word WHY, even though deep down I know that the answers do not matter. Why does anyone say or do anything? I’m not going to lie. There are things that bother me. For example, lying by omission. I would much rather have someone just come up to me (or use whatever digital format they prefer to address me with) and tell me exactly what’s up. Even if it hurts, I promise you, it hurts less than what I am capable of doing to myself by wondering. And the wondering only makes me bitter. And bitter me is a spiteful person. None of us want to go there, I promise you. Unfortunately, though, it happens, and more often than I am comfortable with. Kryptonite.
This is the part where you question the company that I keep, right? Me, too. But I love the company I keep. I absolutely do. I know that they are good people, no matter what ring of hell…er…circle of friends…they fit into on my diagram. I believe in second chances…and third…and fourth…and sixteenth…
The point is, I’m learning to be a better person. Contrary to popular belief, I try to avoid the drama. Shut up. I’m learning to care by not caring at all. The things I see in the rear-view mirror are constantly trying to catch me. Sometimes, I wish they would…because I miss them. But other things, I’m not so sure about. For quite some time, I was convinced that I was crazy. Then I became convinced that others thought I was crazy. Was I truly crazy? Did they make me crazy? Does it matter?
I thought that I was healing. No. I know that I’ve been healing. And that’s why I have a quandary. How do you choose? When do you say, enough with the chances? When do you offer grace? When you are trying to stop caring what others think of you, do you stop caring all together? When you feel like you are finally closing the door, turning the page, expelling the poison, do you ever leave the door open, look back a chapter or two, take another drink? How do you expect others to forgive and forget when you aren’t always able to?
I’m rambling, I know. I was never really the sort of person who walked away. I cherish people. And I never wanted to be someone that they couldn’t rely on. But, if those people feel like they can’t rely on me anyway, what is it that I’m clinging to? It doesn’t mean that any of us are malicious. It just means the lines on our diagram have shifted. You can forgive, forget, grow, and accept, without having to be in one another’s lives. But, should you? We’re not the same people as we once were. Hell, even after everything they went through in book 7, Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy left it as a smile and a nod on a train platform, all those years later. Respect. That’s the key. Respect for who we are now and who we will become. Respect for the strength to learn from what came before and for leaving it in the past. We can respect.
Moving forward doesn’t make me a bad person. I watch others do it every day, seemingly without a second backward glance. Why should I make myself crazy by caring so much?
*climbs out of oubliette and dusts herself off*
Excuse me, I have a labyrinth to conquer.