There are three words that you will see over and over in this post. Those three words are not true. Not yet, anyway; it is my hope that they will someday become true. Maybe if I say them often enough, and loudly enough, and in front of enough people, they will become true. I hope to god that they someday become true.
Those words are I forgive myself.
When I was a freshman in college, I was in love with a boy who wasn’t in love with me and I nearly drove our friendship into the ground because I just couldn’t stop trying to be good enough for him.
I forgive myself.
When I was a sophomore in college I did run a friendship into the ground because I didn’t listen to the warnings of everyone who told me that you should never, ever be roommates with your best friend. Sometimes I miss ‘Gael so badly it hurts. Sometimes I catch a whiff of someone wearing the scented oil she used to wear, and I think I might lose my mind right there on the spot.
But I forgive myself.
When I was a junior in college, I fell in love with exactly the wrong boy, and my parents hated him, and I made them suffer through five years of dealing with him and then another two years of watching me pick up the pieces after he finally ran off with a 19-year-old voice major.
I forgave him, and I forgive myself.
My senior year of college didn’t happen for several more years, because I was busy working at–and then losing–the job at the daycare center to make ends meet, and then I took the job at the Last Place on Earth I Wanted to End Up In and worked there until a shift change opened up and I took it and went back to school and am now $25K in debt for a degree I’m not using; this is particularly poignant because when I went to school in the first place, I was on a full-ride scholarship, which vanished when I dropped out to support the guy in the preceding paragraph.
Moon Man, who is now paying that debt, forgives me, and I forgive myself.
I didn’t talk to my father for the better part of two years, aside from perfunctory three-sentence conversations, because I was so angry with him about my teenage years. To be fair, he was kind of a rat bastard for a while there; but we eventually made our peace and became friends and then became good friends and then he died and I would give anything to have those two years back.
But I forgive myself.
And speaking of Dad, the last time he was in the hospital, that last week he was in ICU and everything was going downhill fast, I realized I hadn’t seen the “Do Not Resuscitate” code on his door placard and I mentioned it to the nurse who told us we had to request it each time he came in–it didn’t carry over from hospital stay to hospital stay–so we told him that and he had them put the code back on the chart but two days earlier he had been crying, begging not to let him die, and three days later his heart flipped out and they couldn’t try to save him because I had told them about the missing DNR and so maybe it’s kind of my fault that he’s dead.
And it is absolutely not true that I forgive myself for that, and I might never forgive myself for that, but I feel obligated to try.
And then his funeral was nothing at all like he or I had hoped it would be but I was quiet because I didn’t want to make it harder on the other folks than it already was and I forgive myself for that
And I had started losing weight and trying to quit smoking before he died but then he died and I put on 80 more pounds and am still smoking and i forgive myself
and i know full well that it is unreasonable to try to be a “good woman” because that’s not even a well-defined concept but i keep trying and trying to be good enough for you and him and her and them and all of us and i forget to try to be good enough for myself but it doesn’t matter because it always always always feels like i am failing so i forgive myself
and i am not going to memorial day because i do not want go visit that goddamned box that holds the body that used to be my dad and mom is pretty pissed at me about it and i understand that but i just can’t force myself to do it because dad is in the wind chimes and in the flowers and in the clouds and in my dreams and not in the goddamned box that i might have put him in anyway and i forgive myself
and i’m not magazine-pretty and i never did write that book of poetry and i quit my irish dance class because i was sick for three weeks and missed three classes in a row and my hair still needs trimmed and i snore and my shelves are dusty and i feel jealous at inopportune moments and i don’t think i’m living up to anyone’s expectations including my own and i’m nowhere near as interesting as people imply or at least i don’t think i am and all the funny stories in the world will not save my soul from this crushing boring lonely fear
and i forgive myself
because i have to forgive myself
because there is no one but me who is angry with me about these things
so i forgive myself
so that i can keep breathing
some days it is all i can do to just. keep. breathing.
so i forgive myself. i will try to forgive myself.
i have to forgive myself, because crucifying myself afresh every day is just. not. working. anymore.