I’m really struggling over this post. I started this blog to be transparent with the world, about hurt, and trauma, and triumphs, and shortcomings. That last piece is really tough. I mean, it’s one thing to share with whoever may stumble into this world of mine that I’ve been scarred by the words or actions of others. But to confess that I have undoubtedly scarred others by my own words and actions? Ouch. Big ouch. Pain-in-my-chest-like-I’m-having-a-heart-attack-but-really-it’s-an-insane-amount-of-anxiety ouch.
Here’s the reality of the situation: we are ALL guilty of scarring others. Sometimes we leave little knicks with a snide comment or a bit of gossip. Sometimes we rip somebody’s chest open and machete the crap out of their heart with words we don’t even sincerely mean, but that can never be fully forgotten or reversed. And sometimes we chip away at the same wound over and over until a tiny tear is suddenly infected and in need of the type of healing that we aren’t able to offer. I am guilty of all of these.
My natural inclination is to simply leave it at that. Hey, well all mess up. I’ve messed up, I’m human, and I don’t claim to be perfect. So here’s my apology, world. I’m sorry for not being perfect. But that apology has about as much depth and feeling as a #sorrynotsorry meme, and if I’m going to be committed to being raw and real with all of you through these posts, then I need to be willing to share my uglier moments right alongside my moments of strength and triumph. Here are some mortifying confessions and apologies. My hope is that some of you will read these and know that you are not the only villain in the world. I hope you see my mistakes and know that you can rise above ANY mistakes you have made. I hope you see my heart and it encourages you to pursue your own confessions and apologies, because in those moments of truth there is healing, not only for those you have hurt, but for yourself. Names have been abbreviated to protect the privacy of anyone implicated.
When I was in the sixth grade, I had a friend who was super cool in my eyes. Not necessarily “popular” cool, but she owned her hippie style and listened to Pink Floyd when the world was obsessing over Boyz II Men. I envied her, because I was always hyper-aware of what people thought of me, and she could care less. She was a great friend to me, and during a time when I was desperate for any escape from what was happening with my step-dad and I at home, she provided a calm, no-questions-asked reprieve as often as I wanted. I should have been severely protective of our relationship, and willing to go to bat for C at all costs, considering what she meant to me. Instead, one day she decided to skip school to hang out with her next door neighbor (who was a couple years older than us and a couple notches higher than me on C’s friendship list) and I immediately threw her under the bus (not literally; I was vindictive, not deadly). I went to one of our teachers at school, and just to make sure no stone was left unturned, I told my parents as soon as I got home, as well. C got in a lot of trouble, and a part of me felt good about that. I told myself, and her when she asked why I betrayed her, that it was for her own good, that I didn’t want her to start heading down a bad path, that I cared about her and wanted her to avoid hanging out with bad influences. On a level, all of that was true. But real talk, I wanted her exposed poor judgment to somehow reflect how good and honest and responsible I was in comparison. C, I don’t know how or why you forgave me, but I’m so thankful you did. You are my oldest friend, and even many years and states removed, you are so loved and cherished.
This next one is a two-part apology, and it’s a big one. I was barely 16. A new boy had joined our school and one of my best friends was immediately in love. He was a bad boy whose parents had sent him to live with his grandparents, and his grandparents asked T’s parents if their good girl daughter could buddy up with him. T was happy to oblige. She made it no secret to me that she was interested in him, and a good friend would have respected those boundaries and steered clear. Not only did I disregard my friend’s feelings by pursuing this boy for myself, but I lied to her about it and snuck around with him behind her back. I knew that it would upset T if I told her that I liked this guy and wanted to date him. But if I’m honest, I was way more concerned with protecting my image than with protecting her feelings. I ended up giving him my virginity. Here’s where it gets super ridiculous. I was so worried that he might have impregnated me, that for a couple of weeks I would regularly throw my stomach into my bedpost, hard enough to leave visible bruises all over my mid-section, in hopes of “breaking up” whatever might be forming inside of me. T, I am so very sorry that I had such little regard for you when you were nothing but loving and giving to me. I’m sorry that I lied to you and made you question your instincts. I’m sorry that I was truly a shitty friend to you, because you were, and are, a person who deserves better than what I offered. To my own body and womb, I am tormented over the naive and terrible choice I made to inflict pain and injury on you. I am haunted by those actions of mine on a regular basis, and especially as month after month, year after year goes by without the presence of a child growing inside the safe haven that I am constantly worried I might have destroyed single-handedly.
Lastly (at least for the purposes of this post, because I could fill an ocean with my shortfalls), I would like to offer a public apology to my husband, and a confession that pains me most of all. Yours is an injury I’ve been working on for years, one that I continue to reopen time and time again. I don’t even know how to word this with finesse, so I’ll just come out with it bluntly. When I feel hurt by you, my weapon of choice has consistently been to remind you that you’re not worth the fight. I am so quick to remind you that I wasn’t even sure that I should marry you to begin with, and that I should have trusted those instincts; or that I gave up on us a long time ago, and I’m only still here because you convinced me to stay, but I will easily throw in the towel and move on if you don’t keep me happy. I’m sure this go-to of mine could be explained away with a myriad of old wounds of my own, or reflexes to protect my own heart, or other similar excuses. But at the end of it all, I still choose to cut you with words that, in those moments, I’m hoping will make you feel small and inferior and worthless. That is horrible. Please know that I will continue to work on removing this wretched behavior from our life completely. Know that I do love you, so much, and that I am severely grateful that you are my husband, despite the fact that I convey the exact opposite in moments of anger and frustration. I am especially grateful that you have chosen to continue to work to love me better, to make me feel more loved, even when I haven’t reciprocated. You are my rock, and I don’t ever want to do this life without you.
My fear right now is that those of you who read this will think less of me, will stop wanting to read what I have to say, or, if you know me, will prefer to bow out of our relationship. Really, who would want to know a person who has shown such little regard for others? But maybe someone will relate. If so, it would mean the world to me if you shared. Have you ever hurt someone you loved? Have you ever pursued your own gain at the expense of someone else’s loss? If sharing in the comments is too daunting (I don’t blame you), you could go the more ambiguous route and tweet me a simple #Imessuptoo @thstangledheart. If you stick with me after this, THANK YOU for seeing past my failures and loving me anyway. It means more than you know.