I’ve been thinking a lot about wounds lately. Not the physical kind, which either heal themselves or kill us, but wounds of the soul – the kind that will neither heal nor set us free through death. They linger deep within us, hidden until some unknown trigger brings them to the surface, surprising even ourselves.
I have many such wounds.
Some are silly, but the pain is still real: the 9th grade rejection and embarassment, which surfaces again decades later in a situation where there’s a lot of playful flirting going on amongst “everybody else”, bringing forth a Wormtongue-type demon, whispering “You are a loser. You are altogether unlovable.” It doesn’t matter that you’re happily married with loving children and a wide circle of friends. That gangly 9th grade boy who was the only one who didn’t get paired off to go necking at little Susie Somebody’s party is still inside, and he knows nothing of such things. But like I said, such wounds are as silly as they are real.
But I believe the most liberating force in the universe is forgiveness. To be able to look your offender in the eye and say, “You hurt me. And I forgive you”, and mean it. To wrap your arms around him and once again call him Brother. To do such a thing is glorious. It frees you to look at your wound and say, “You no longer have power over me! Begone!” I have known this, and it is where I long to be with all of my wounds.
I’ve never been a big fan of the various gender and ethnic “studies” majors in college. I know that the entry in the catalog uses words like “empowerment” and “liberation”. But I judge them by their fruits. The people I know who have been through these courses of study can quote every single wrong perpetrated on their “group”, chapter and verse. They say they are empowered, but they sure do dwell on their powerlessness a whole lot. There is no forgiveness, no moving on. THIS is the opposite of where I want to be.
But now, I have a problem. I have a rather recent wound that is quite problematic. In my mind, “it”, is just that, it was just a bad event that happened, like a hurricane. There is no one to forgive. Well, that’s not totally true; I just don’t know who to forgive. The decision that hurt me so was a corporate one, done behind closed doors, and I was informed of it by a close friend who was also a victim. All I know is a hidden, secret cabal ripped my life apart.
Some who were hurt alongside me have moved on in their own way; they took themselves out of the situation. There is no chance of an encounter with the offenders. But, I worry, because in speaking with my co-victims, it’s obvious that the pain is still there. They have only moved on physically.
Recently, some who were not involved directly with “the incident” have made overtures to me and the others. It appears there is a need for absolution. I would love nothing better. How great it would be to pull the wound out of its hiding place, slap the bastard two or or three times for good measure, then say goodbye. How I long to be rid of it!
But I don’t know who to forgive. I don’t know if “they” even seek forgiveness. So I am trapped, just like in the Springsteen song:
Well, it seems like I’ve been playing your game way too long.
And it seems the game I’ve played has made you strong.
When the game is over, I won’t walk out a loser.
And someday I’ll walk out of here again. Someday I’ll walk out of here again.
But now I’m trapped.