The worst part of losing someone to death (though losing them to distance, physical or emotional can be close. After all “To part is to die a little.”) is that you keep examining everything you did wrong in relation to that person.
This is particularly awful if it was a bad relationship. Or if it was a bad relationship for a time or after some signal event.
And sure, you often can see where the problem was on the other side, but the whole “none of us are perfect.” And you wonder if you had done something different, if you’d been more open/less open, if your actions and your expectations — particularly while acculturating and all your thoughts set by another culture — could have been better/easier/less….. provoking. And you don’t even know if they were provoking. Because there’s a thing that happens with acculturation, if it’s successful, the you are isn’t exactly the you before, and you don’t see things the same way. So what you remember is seen through a mirror, darkly.
And you realize — well, at least if you’re an adult — that some of the things you did were with ill intent, at least at the back of the mind, because you were hurt and striking back is human, even if you know better.
And then– there’s nothing you can do about it, anymore. There is no remediating the situation anymore.
It’s not death, as I said. My best friend growing up, practically a part of me, not just as close as a sister, but as close as a twin, won’t answer my calls or my letters. And no, I have no idea what I’ve done to cause that.
I suspect politics. But she always knew what mine were, in general. But then in Europe even the right is left by default. But–
Who knows? in the tangle of feelings and labyrinths leading to the past, maybe I did something to deserve it? I don’t remember so, but I was so ill for over a decade, and not exactly compus mentis. I don’t remember a lot of things, either, from when my thyroid was really bad. Which is weird. I guess I was eidetic, until the massive concussion twenty years ago? I didn’t realize it, because I was massively ADHD, so I only paid attention to like 10% of ANYTHING. Which means even if I remembered all of that, I didn’t remember things I couldn’t force myself to be interested in.
BUT I used to remember everything I ever read or watched with any degree of enjoyment, and recently I found that entire seasons of shows I liked (very few, as you know) have disappeared from my mind, along with probably hundreds of books and dozens of experiences.
So, why is our friendship broken? I don’t know.
If my memory is correct, the only reason I can think of is “politics.”
Which it be fair has cost us more friends and caused more rift over the last 20 years than I care to mention.
And if you’re like me it hurts. It always hurts. You wonder “Was it me? Could I have done something differently?”
Your mind exhumes all the occasions when you were an asshole, or merely oblivious. And then you have to wonder if it had been different….
One of the things I’ve been going through, about my career, my family, my friends is examining all those circumstances.
And what I keep coming back to is: “But that’s all I knew back then.”
I’m not going to say I couldn’t have acted differently. Free will is a thing. I’m just going to say I was doing the best I knew how to do at the time, with what I knew and who I was at the time.
Because that’s the other thing. It’s hard to figure out who you were. Recently, reading Kate’s con books, where, yes, my insert is …. somewhat glorified, and made supernatural, but still…. there’s a life, an energy there, that I remember having. And then something happened. Like, I bled out over the last ten years or so. I just ….. it’s like part of me is missing. I remember being me. I’d like to be me again. But it’s going to take time and intentional effort.
And let’s face it, I don’t really want to be me. Not me as I was. Because there are things I know now that I didn’t know then, and mistakes I’ve made–
I’ve forgiven — not just now but a long time ago — those who sinned against me. At least those who were/are close to me. The sowers of chaos in SF/F or politics…. well, there’s not much to forgive. They act according to their nature. I don’t hate them. It would be like hating poisonous snakes. They are what they are. I just fight them. Because it needs to be done.
Forgiving myself is harder. Perhaps it is for everyone. But I try.
And then there’s today, and I know many of you are in unenviable situations in your families, in your circle of friends, or at work. I hear your stories, sometimes, and wonder HOW you have the strength to survive or go on, and cheerfully at that. A lot of you outside, and some of you know who you are, have me in awe of you.
And I? Well, I’m trying really hard to do the best I can, but there is the fact that there’s so much I don’t know. And you never know if you’re doing too much or not enough.
One of my tricks is the whole thing I sometimes talk about here: the day dream of sending your mind back in time and changing something spectacularly stupid you did at that point, that you still regret today? (Not all of those were bad things, just stupid, but yes, any number of them were bad.)
I pretend it happened. I pretend I just sent my mind back from the future. Nothing that happened up till now is really my fault. It was someone else, really close to me, but now I know better.
I’m here, now. And this mess I’ve made was not of my own choosing (hey, maybe this is parallel-world me, not really myself, though close) but it is mine to fix now.
What is the best path today? What can I do? Not repining, not focusing on what I could have done differently “if only” (the saddest words in the English language.” But right here, right now, how do I fix things and make them better? For myself, my career, my country, my family, my friends? What can I do NOW?
And maybe in the end, I’ll end up doing more good than harm.
As for the title, yes, I’m on an Eagles kick. Mostly because I found it is a good rhythm to use the elliptical to, at least compared to most of my favorite music, which tends to be VERY slow going.
So, we are all just prisoners here, of our own devices. And by here, it’s pretty much at any given moment in time.
But if we try, maybe we can drive away from that “Hotel California” (And dear Lord, does that mean something now.) Or at least gain a new perspective on it, and break out of the cycle.
It’s worth a try.
As for relationships broken by death, or politics, and for those we love who are on the other side, be it of the living state or politics, or who knows what? For what I’ve done and what I’ve failed to do, may the good Lord forgive me. And may He turn my poor efforts to the best account this day and going forward.