||[Jun. 21st, 2003|11:26 am]
The summer after my sophomore year of highschool, I had a brief summer romance with a fellow who was living with his aunt while his parents were taking a break. Kimbe and I held hands and kissed a lot, but this being 1974 and me being fairly screwed up from sexual abuse, I froze whenever he wanted to take it further (being a teenage boy, that was always). We'd been going out for a few weeks when my best friend and next door neighbor turned up missing one evening. Her mom came by our house at midnight on a hot Saturday night asking after Lisa. We hadn't seen her. Her mom was pretty frantic, and apparently searched all night because as the sky paled toward dawn I was awakened by shouting and sobbing in the street. I leaned out the window to see the Mom dragging Lisa by one ear (literally) back toward their front door. "You little whore!" she was shrieking. "Goddamn slut!" I called down to ask what was going on. "I found her in bed with that goddamn Kimbe!"
Lisa looked up at me with both guilt and triumph in her eyes. I was stunned, but had the presence of mind to yank the ring he had given me off my finger. "You have him, you might as well have this." I flung it at her from the second story before her mom dragged her into the house to be "grounded until you're 30!"
I was never going to speak to her again. I slammed the door in his face when he showed up with a stupid smile. And by Wednesday he had left anyway, back home to where I would never see him again.
Moms being what they are, Lisa's grounding stuck for about a week. She slinked over to my house on Saturday.
And within a few minutes we had dismissed him as a jerk and were back to being best friends. I never trusted her around a guy again, but I didn't hold a grudge.
This is sort of the way I function in life. And I'm not sure that it is really all that healthy. I am so willing to forgive and forget that people who aren't irritate me. I remember a woman in Anchorage who obviously and intensely disliked me. I never did figure out what sin I had committed in her eyes, and even when I called and asked her she denied it. But her daughter blurted out that she wasn't allowed to talk to me, so it wasn't just my imagination.
Yet it was hard for me to focus on the fact that she didn't like me. I kept expecting her to get over it, speak up, or forget about it. So I continued to walk into the blades of her spite - and get irked that she was being so ridiculous. I have short term memory loss when it comes to anger. I eventually learned to stay out of her circle of friends, because I was only causing discomfort.
This level of agreeability isn't always a good thing. I stayed in a bad marriage for far too many years because I kept forgiving and forgiving. I stayed in a bad job here in Cleveland longer than I should have partially because I kept forgiving and forgiving. And the forgiving has a toll. I am inveterate story teller because I remember the details of events so well - which means that I remembered all the things I'd forgiven, and the weight of the forgiving without the reciprocation of changed behavior turned them all into hard stones of resentment that weighed on me. Eventually there would be one too many, and some small slight would lead to a terrible over reaction.
My forgiving nature means I don't protect myself enough, and that I am not empathetic to people who don't forgive as easily as I do. I create more conflict because I have Dory's short term memory when it comes to strife. People think I am not taking them seriously or respecting their feelings - and I'm not, frankly, but not because I don't care. It's because I don't grok the way they feel. It's not fair, but it's how I am.