NoBloPoMo, Reflections

Mending Fences… (Day 22)

So…, after a wonderful day of paid game playing, I came home to do a little fence mending.  A tree branch came down on a section of our fence and took it out completely, thus giving the dogs free reign of the neighborhood (not good, if you happen to be a neighbor).  With the help of a dear friend, the roommate and myself we got it fixed up pretty well, limited resources and all.  But it got me thinking…

I’ve seen (and heard) a lot of stories lately about people needing, or wanting, to mend fences.  There was a guy on a local radio show contest who thought he’d been called, but it was actually his son they were trying to reach; after questioning, it came out the man hadn’t spoken with his son in over two years (son’s choice), so he decided not to contact him about the $10,000 prize.

There was the mother who abandoned a husband and child (drugs, I think), so the father told the young daughter her mother was dead; then 15 years later, mom shows up and wants to get to know the daughter, saying, “she needs her mother,” while the father tries desperately to keep them apart.

Then another story about a drug addicted criminal child who stole from a grandmother repeatedly, assaulting her on a couple of occasions, who kept coming back, apologizing, swearing to be different, then doing it all again.  After a couple years in prison (not related to leaving his grandmother destitute again), he gets out, under strict parole guidelines, including staying away from alcohol and grandma’s house.  About a week after he gets out, grandma invites him over to do some chores for her, “because he owes her”; he chooses to go in violation of his parole.  Then two weeks later he gets arrested for being somewhere else he’s not supposed to be, drinking; not technically doing anything criminal, but again in violation of his parole.  The system is still trying to decide whether or not to send him back to prison…

I hear these stories and I ask myself, “what is justice here?” Can these fences actually be mended, and how?  I’m sure everyone has an opinion related to their own personal experiences, and certainly more information would be needed to actually assess these situations fairly; for example, I have no idea why the son and father in the first scenario weren’t speaking, since Dad didn’t feel he needed to share that on air. But I do have strong personal biases and experiences with both the second and third scenarios, having been abandoned by my own mother as a child (and being told she was dead for my own “protection”), and growing up with active alcoholism all around me.  Of course, my mother never tried to get back in touch with me, but still, I can imagine…

Mental wellness requires me to try and forgive others for wrongs they have done to me, however horrendous, but not for the benefit of the perpetrator of such wrongs; rather, I forgive others for my own well-being and peace of mind.  To carry such fury in my soul toward another is like a cancerous growth, poisoning everything I do, believe, or want out of life.  Yet it seems to me that self-preservation requires me to draw the line somewhere, saying “enough is enough!”  To be fair, I recognize the difference between “forgiving” someone and continuing to place myself in harm’s way (as in the grandmother scenario), but still I wonder, are some acts simply unforgiveable, period?

And if they are, how do you move on?  Can you move on free of taint, without forgiving?

There are all kinds of truisms that address this idea, about being wiser because of the experience, or being stronger for surviving it, but is it possible to heal without carrying scars away?  And can you then engage others without fear, after having been so deeply wronged?  For theoretically, at least, forgiveness allows you to go on without fear or regret; cleansed of anger and hatred toward our wrongdoer, we are able to love whole heartedly again, without condition or restriction…

In one of the books I wrote, some of the characters had developed a healing protocol called “memory realignment therapy”.  With this therapy they used the simultaneous nature of experience to recreate a traumatic event for the patient, but choosing a different outcome.  One of the problems they had with it was that the potential effectiveness of the treatment was inversely proportionate to the amount of linear time experienced “after” the original event; i.e. the more time had passed, the less effective the therapy was likely to be.  And this because, according to them, that experience led directly to who the patient became.  Every decision that followed the traumatic event was impacted by it, thus rendering any change at the event level potentially catastrophic in terms of subsequent life choices.

It was kind of like hitting the rewind button on life, going back to a particularly life-altering moment, and re-writing it differently, thus changing the entire story line.  The greater the trauma, the farther back you had to rewind to “fix” the problem, the more significantly your life path would have to be altered.  So the decision facing every patient was “how much of your current life are you willing to sacrifice to re-write the past?”

For myself, personally, I don’t know what I would choose.  Yes, I love my life today, and certainly I’ve made the best of some pretty bad experiences.  And I believe those experiences have enriched me immeasurably.  But I do have regrets, as well; there are moments I would give almost anything to do differently, even knowing and expecting them to change my life into something totally unrecognizable to me today.  I would love to see how things could have been had I not done or said some things in my past, or if I had done or said some things.

For example, what if I had never smoked that first cigarette?  I was 3 years old at the time, and I whined at my stepmother about smoking in a closed car, so she made me smoke part of a cigarette as punishment; something about needing to “toughen me up.”  I still remember that today, as clearly as if it happened yesterday rather than decades ago!  What if I hadn’t toughened up to the presence of cigarette smoke that day, if I hadn’t turned to smoking to be like the rest of my family later, how would my life have been different today?…

Or what if I hadn’t pushed people out of my life along the way? My best friend in junior high and I were inseparable; both of us were smart, strong and determined to succeed.  We knew what we wanted and how we were going to get there; she was going to be a doctor and I was going to be a successful writer (as in make a career of it!).  But when she started questioning my drinking and reckless behavior, I finally pushed her away, and she finally gave up on me, needing to protect herself.  She did go on to become a well-respected surgeon, while I ended up homeless and drunk…

I don’t know what the answers are here.  Maybe some fences are just too broken, and cannot be mended, no matter what resources or intentions are available…



6 thoughts on “Mending Fences… (Day 22)

  1. This was a brave post, thank you for being so open. There are no easy answers to this and I don’t think there are supposed to be. One family nearby to us were a collection of troublemakers, they caused us upset at very vulnerable times I can’t forgiven them. Our next door neighbour was someone we were on good terms with but she made a complete mess of her life (drugs) and yet we just feel sorry for her. It is true some fences cannot be mended. It can be argued that the door swings both ways, a person maybe in a bad place doing bad things, but there is always that opportunity to change. Grasp it and struggle upwards, keeping on keeping on and maybe those fences will be mended. When we try (without doing harm to others) we are at our best, success is the reward, the measure of it is not important. Best wishes in your own endeavours.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your kindness and encouragement! It is both hopeful and helpful, and I sincerely appreciate it. I will hang on to your closing words today: “when we try…we are at our best, success is the reward, the measure of it is not important.” These are very wise words. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Whatever happens in your life shapes the you that you are now. Everyone lives with regrets ( I argue no one would be having a human experience without them) it sounds like you’ve lived quite a full live so far. Your writing/stories are really well written and captivating. Continue sharing! And keep fighting the good fight!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. rawgod says:

    I have fences I have never mended, and some I have tried to but failed, or didn’t follow up on.And I have some regrets too, but not as many as one might think. Each step I took, be it a wise one or a stupid one, has helped make me who I am today, and that I cannot regret. I am not perfect, as much as l believe myself to be, but I am perfectly “me”! Most days I love who I am, and the days I don’t are usually caused by new regrets that i have not had time to work out yet. Take for instance Dec. 23rd of last year. I was going on a business trip I had already postponed twice, and I very much wanted to finish it before Xmas (even though I do not celebrate Xmas, a whole lot of the people I deal with do). I woke up that morning to a very sick cat. She had been close to dying for two weeks, and this morning after I had lifted her into her sandbox she was not able to get out. She laid down where she had just peed, and I knew it wouldn’t be long before she died. But I had this trip to go on, and I really did not want to disappoint my customers yet again, especially 2 days before Xmas. A decision had to be made, for I could not leave her to die alone, and I highly doubted she could last till I got home. I ended up taking her to the vet, who euthanized her, thus leaving me free to go on my trip.
    I was able to keep my feelings in check for a few weeks, but one day I just started crying and I did not know why. I went into a horrible depression that I could not shake. Today, April 14th, I am still in the throes of that depression. But at least I now know why, because I had let my customers become more important than my dying cat. How much longer she would have lived, I can never know. How much she may have suffered in that interval, again, I can never know. But she had been a good friend for over 15 years, and she deserved to live all her time on Earth.
    But, no, I killed her instead. Whether it would have been minutes, hours, or days are of no matter. I believe in Life, and I believe every living being should have the right to a natural death. To have shortened Aztec’s life by even seconds was not my place to decide. And so, I hate that part of me that made that decision, and I very much regret having carried that decision out. And I cannot mend that fence, ever. And this was not the first time I killed a feline friend. But I certainly hope it will be the last.
    Dear Lisa, This is not the story I was going to lay at your feet, so it is possible I may have to write yet one more to this post. I’m not sure right now. But I promise the next one will not be as sad as this one–at least it wasn’t for me, not in the long run…


  4. rawgod says:

    The story I wanted to tell you yesterday was about a fence that I can never mend, nor have I ever wanted to. The male donor of half my DNA was a complete abuser of children. He abused all his children mentally and physically, the girls he abused sexually as well. And he abused our mother, but she abused him right back until she died at the age of 51. This man did not deserve forgiveness, and he prided himself on how mean he was, intentionally mean and abusive. Where this mean streak came from we do not know. Probably he was abused as a child, but that does not give him the right to enjoy abusing his family. He died without ever saying to anyone that he was sorry for anything he ever did to them.
    Some of my siblings say that in later years they forgave him, but I do not believe them. The way they still talk about him puts the lie to their words.
    I know that I will go to my grave never having forgiven him, but I do thank him for teaching me what kind of person I would never want to be. That was never his intention, if he ever had an intention for us.
    I’ve heard many times over the years that I will not be able to ever live properly if I do not forgive him, that I will always be troubled. If that is true I will have to live with it, because while I can forgive most people most things, I cannot forgive him for destroying a minimum of 11 lives, and who knows how may others. I am not saying we were the ultimate in dysfunctional families, I’ve heard of many worse since then. But relatively speaking, he was the worst father I could ever have had, and that is a fence I have no desire to mend, even posthumously…
    And despite him, I made myself into a being I can love and respect, and there is nothing more I could ask in life.


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