Something has happened inside of me, where my soul dwells. I go about each normal day; I talk to people, I push paper, I call clients, I adjust my schedule to account for the whims of others. All the while, I feel this shift, like sand but with substance. A tide of colors blends and ripples. Not a quake, but the indelible mark of change, slow, enduring.
I’ve said that time does not heal all wounds and it does not — it simply enables a scab to form over the opening. The wound beneath can only heal with deliberateness. A life time of wounds require a decade of careful tending.
I’ve been told that only professional help will heal what’s wrong with me. I do not believe that. By “what’s wrong with me”, the person tossing that pronouncement meant not my state as a result of the cruel moments of my life. This person meant my defects, the failures inside of me which supposedly invited others to behave in ways which hurt me. I used to believe that; I used to feel that everything people did which caused me to feel pain was somehow my fault — as though their choices flowed from my bad behavior and not their own preferences.
I don’t buy that anymore. I’ve made a tally of all the good that I’ve done; all the times that I’ve helped people; all the positives about me. I sat on my porch one recent cool evening (yes, there have been cool evenings, though June brutally assaults us). I went over my life, all sixty years of it, including the incredible moment in my earliest memory when my Uncle Bob held me to the tiller of his boat and a spray of water christened my face. I took myself through every day that I can remember, every choice, every action, every success, every failure. I concluded that I had done my best; and more: I concluded that I had continued to try to reshape myself so that my best itself improved.
I never did anything with malicious intent. At times I acted from fear, or a lack of understanding, or muddled thinking. I have certainly failed to behave in ways that pleased people — and sometimes I might have behaved differently, had I truly known what people wanted. I would have striven to be that, do that, go there, just as I have striven all these years to be as dependable as possible.
I have my faults. But loyalty stands among my highest virtues. I have never cheated on a lover or spouse; I have never told a friend that I could not help them; I have never failed to at least try to be what others wanted or needed. I am not perfect — no one is; so my efforts sometimes fall flat. But not from lack of trying. In fact, I’m one of those annoying people who don’t give up until my fingers bleed.
I’ve looked back on particular instances which I will not define because I do not want those involved to suffer any embarrassment. I’ve examined my decisions in those moments, and felt them to be genuine. I knew my limits. I knew my weaknesses. I made choices which resulted in others feeling pain just as the choices made by some have ended with my suffering. I have been forgiven; just as I have forgiven in my turn.
So life continues. I have a plan, and contingencies. The road in front of me holds promise. I did not plan to walk the particular highway on which my feet now tread. But I am here. I will keep walking. I will place my feet with care whenever I can; but sometimes I will skip; sometimes I will scramble. Time has not healed wounds, but it has cauterized them, and I am learning to heal from within myself. I do not think I am defective. I do not buy the claim that I mistreat people. I do my best, and most of all, I do what I can to never let anyone down. That has to count for something.
It’s the seventeenth day of the thirtieth month of My Year Without Complaining. Life continues.
Happy Birthday to KATRINA SINGSEN TAGGART — A friend who always accepts me as I am.