Yesterday I asked forgiveness from someone, someone who my actions had offended. I didn’t sugar coat, didn’t minimize and didn’t blame. I stated forthrightly that what I had done had been outside the bounds of my agreement with them and I had been dishonest in my cover up of those actions.
Let me tell you about this person: they are a strong advocate for prison reform, they work diligently to provide opportunities for people who are incarcerated, they espouse publicly that everyone deserves a second chance, that people shouldn’t be defined by their mistakes. They align themselves with folks who most of society would deem reprehensible and deserving to be locked away for life. This is a person who offers compassion, opportunity and understanding to folks who have committed egregious acts that most other individuals couldn’t look past. These are qualities I’ve always admired in this person.
Their response was startling and hurtful. Their response was full of anger, lack of forgiveness, saying that as far as they were concerned the bridge was burnt and no forgiveness would be extended. And in fact, told me that they thought I should have nothing to do with anyone involved in any sort of advocacy work. Ever.
It took my breath away. It knocked me on my heels, I was reeling for hours from it. Maybe still am a little.
What did happen is that it offered me the opportunity to see that folks rarely actually live the values they espouse publicly. This person obviously has some sort of rescue mission and deems the population they work with as needing compensation the rest of the world doesn’t. Forgiveness and compassion are offered in a public arena but not lived values in their private life.
Thanks to my friend Anthony I have a new word for that: hyposhit. A hypocrite espousing bullshit.
Let me tell you something: even middle class, highly educated women get involved with abusive men and make poor decisions. Even a wickedly smart woman can be duped into a façade and make poor decisions based on that façade. In the end, I got my ass beat, lost my job and clearly have spent the last year trying to recover and make amends. In my family, we worked through my absurd behavior and know that it will never happen again.
As I begin to emerge from my shell, I am finding that victim blaming goes far beyond what happens in a court room or a doctor’s office or within families.
I was used, manipulated, deceived, controlled and eventually physically assaulted. I own my part in those events. I own that I made poor choices based on false information and trickery. I don’t own that I did anything to have the shit beat out of me when I finally started coming to my senses and found courage to walk away.
Am I embarrassed? Fuck yes. Do I want a do ever? Fuck yes. Do you have the right to judge me when you have limited and likely false information? Fuck no. Are you entitled to tell me who I can or cannot talk to now? Fuck no. Are you in a position to tell me who I can advocate for and who I can’t? Fuck no.
So, let me put this out there. I believe in change. I believe that education changes lives. I am not going to judge an entire population of people by what one person did to me. I believe that when a person is truly remorseful for their actions and willing to be held accountable, change does happen. I also believe that no one is better or worse than me…just different with different experiences. I also believe in forgiveness, compassion and second chances – for everyone. My experiences haven’t changed my core values. It’s not just a public performance; it’s how I live my life.