“Sweet embraceable you…”
You were once to me.
A friend beloved, a space safe.
That is on interminable hiatus.
It wasn’t my choice
I’m not convinced
It was yours either.
We all walked in to the same room.
The context had changed,
But the gist was the same.
The playing field isn’t level here.
I have become a stranger
With a shared history.
An enigma who presents a conundrum.
Met with silence and an awkward smile.
You’ve avoided me a while.
I haven’t come where you are.
But shared loves
Have drawn us both into the open.
I know where I am.
But it’s very clear you don’t
And the self imposed disconnection from me
Hasn’t prepared us for this moment.
I left. Not you. A place.
But you can’t make
Silence is my companion
Not because I don’t want to talk
But because I don’t want to force
The override of the disconnect.
I’m not sure you are.
What happens after you leave the fundamental world and you have to cross paths with those who were close, which for many of us, is the holiday season? Avoidance is often the one tool we have in the kit to deal with the awkward social interactions… but when you can’t and you are forced to coexist, even outside the realm of your previous connection, it is so messy. I left a church I had been involved in for the majority of my life, and stayed in the community. Many of my friendships didn’t survive, and I have endured a rather large number of timid smiles and surface cordiality over the ensuing years. What they don’t know is that I’m not mad. I have actually gleaned insight and wisdom into where they are that has me content to leave them to the security of belief they enjoy in their present. I also don’t want to argue, sway, or justify my present world view. All of that is gone. It has morphed with the healing process, and moved into the history section of my personal library. I am at peace.
I just want to Love them. To know them. To be the friend I thought I was, once. I don’t want to run from them, but gosh… the bashful response to my presence made me feel as though I should have brought a large number of objects big enough to hide behind for everyone that was avoiding me. Humans are funny with each other when trauma makes their decisions. It makes fear out of the friendly shadows produced by the sun on a clear day. The assumptions we make about someone else’s state of mind, or heart, craft too many preconceptions concerning the perception of judgments they “must be making.” I used to think being misunderstood was the worst rejection that could happen to someone. It isn’t. Being deliberately shut out and feared on the grounds of belief alone supersedes that. Shutting someone out abruptly and without communicating the reason is incredibly wounding for all parties - especially if it is done, not because of survival instinct, but because of an external edict, or loyalty demanded from another entity. This is, to me, proof that we were designed for, by, and as, Love. It is in our DNA to have healthy, knowing, vulnerable, intimate, connection. Imposed separation throws us out of alignment at a deep level.
Even after you heal from the experiences that lead you to change the way you think, the communication with anyone who was part of the trauma story can be dicey. Aside from the connected emotional mess they have internally accumulated, there are differing ideas concerning what “healed/healing” looks like. There’s so much semantical clutter around understanding forgiveness, that healthy boundaries and a more objective, or even differing view expressed out loud can be perceived as not really having forgiven. In many circles, forgiveness means a complete moratorium on the the experience. Courts insist you forget abuse when making custody arrangements, churches often expect that you make someone welcome and reinstate their role in your life because they apologize. Families often sweep things under the rug entirely and insist on “kissing and making up.”
Forgiveness is none of those things. It is largely gaining enough perspective on a situation, event, or person, to allow yourself to heal. It does not result in unconditional reconciliation, however it may yield an open door to a healing conversation. In some instances, trust should never be restored. I think, that happens more frequently with organizations and institutions than with people. Sometimes it is ok to abandon ship in a life boat and find your own island to live on. Well placed boundaries seem like overkill to a person who can’t see the strain or damage they have put on the relationship, either as the result of their own unhealed trauma, or because of an ingrained world view that holds no space for new light. When you have become flexible and open, it feels threatening to someone who finds safety in a rigid system of belief, especially if the only relational context has been within a mutually held ideology.
Every person has a different journey, but I recall when my anger passed and I began to heal. It sounded very much like this,“Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they’re doing… and if they do, they are too scared to stop.” Compassion let me see myself in their responses for just long enough to remember what I looked like when my world was the same size. We all behave like caged abused animals when we find ourselves living completely inauthentically. Being part of a collective is often done at considerable loss to the intrinsic design and uninhibited being of a person. We are forced into roles we are not suited for by beliefs. We let go of dreams, visions, loves, sometimes family, just to be included. This creates grief and internal disconnection. It also births a hyper vigilant, over protective inner child unafraid, and often unaware, of offending someone else when the feel their safety is threatened. I’m convinced this is why few relationships survive theological shifts when they do not occur in tandem. When one can freely embrace all the parts of themselves and love them, healthy emotional and spiritual integration inevitably follows and one matures. Nothing threatens the superimposed template of external behavioural control that utterly contradicts the natural healthy inclination and creates inauthentic existence, like someone who has matured and now spontaneously fruits full bodied self control. Peer friendships can often become more like parent child relationships as one grows and leaves the other behind. Perhaps the most mature act we can do as the one who grows, is to leave someone else behind to discover their own path. No one else can have our Journey into Love.
Fear, not Love, drives the religious. To live with the cognitive dissonance this creates, I need to allow them to behave like the scared little kids they most likely are. For that is when they became afraid. Trauma hits the first time you get treated like you are unacceptable or unlovely just as you are. Religion holds up a dark mirror and tells you that you are innately sinful and born in a separate state. You are “other” and need to do something to find yourself fit for inclusion. Unfortunately, both the institution and the family unit can back this in discipline, expectations, and parenting style. It is a lifestyle we don’t choose, and aren’t at liberty to leave until society says we have come of age. The desire to be accepted often makes one table themselves and pick up a role as a pseudo identity, causing an internal divorce from our authentic selves that we spend a lifetime grieving until we begin to deliberately heal and embrace ourselves as uniquely and purposefully put together in our mother’s womb.
We need to let Love clean the mirror and hold it up again, revealing beauty in the innate design, wholeness in the creature, irrevocable placement in the One Who is Life, and give breath to the dream born of those many pleasant thoughts. A system cannot dictate identity or the expression of it. Trauma should not be given permission to decide behaviour towards ourselves or others. That is the inclusive role of Love in the universe. Fear should not dictate the maturity level of our responses and communication. That should be left to Love as well. Love has the power to dissolve the conundrum.
It is beautiful and lovely to be me. “…Sweet embraceable you” don’t you see it too?