We now rejoin yesterday’s article, already in progress.
You can find part one of this article here.
- One who repeated her actions over and over, and still does to this day
- One who revealed a side of himself that proved I did not really know him at all
- One who’s actions were deliberate, and though he could have made it good, chose not too
All were people who were incredibly close to me, putting them in position to maximize the damage. I wore that damage for years. But a strange thing happened as time passed; the years gave me different perspectives. My views of the damage changed. And of the people who caused the damage. And what it really meant to me.
My sister has never asked for forgiveness, nor intimated in any way that her actions were out of line. Yet she failed me, repeatedly, and in some ways continues to fail me to this day. But I know more now than I did then; I know that my sister has been failed too.
My Gamer Girl has pointed out things about my sister’s situation that I would have never seen on my own, and helped me to look at life through her eyes. Maybe? Who knows what is really in someone else’s head, but Yvonne certainly helped me look at things from a very different viewpoint, one that accommodates my sister, and understands that some of things I see as problems are actually defenses. In fact they may be necessary defenses.
I forgive my sister. I have no need to be close with her, but I’m just not mad at her anymore. I wish her well. Genuinely.
My former brother-in-law actually did ask for forgiveness for his failure, but it was twenty-five years too late and happened when circumstance forced us to be in the same place at the same time; no effort required on his part.
But he still loves my kids. Distantly, he is not good at reaching out to them, but undeniably, he loves them, and has all this time. So there’s that.
Then a few years ago, he lost everyone. Everyone. His cherished uncle, his mom, his dad, his sister (at the time, my wife), everyone, all deceased within two years of each other. His wife left him too, not deceased but divorced. He found himself suddenly and staggeringly alone. This isn’t karma, this is just tragedy. No one should go through that regardless of their past actions.
I forgive my former brother-in-law. I feel no need to be close to him, but my kids do, and I respect their judgement. I wish him well. Genuinely.
My high school basketball coach is a different story. It was his job to avoid failing his charges, not just morally but from a literal employment point of view. And yet he failed me, crushingly and deliberately, and failed to make it good for my entire senior year. There is something very disturbing about a man who is supposed to stand up as a mentor and an example of living the life of a Christian (I went to a private evangelical school) but instead uses his position to ridicule and bully a young kid that was already going through hellish times.
As the years passed, I gained new viewpoints on this episode too, as I have the others. Except in this case I realize that the coach’s actions were even more reprehensible than they seemed at the time. As someone who has raised boys of his own, and has been a coach, and watched my boys with the other adult males in their lives, I see just how thoroughly and unnecessarily he failed me.
I should be careful here, there is so much in the news about teachers and physical abuse, I am not alleging anything like that. The man was not a pervert, he was an asshole. But he was only an asshole to me; everyone else loved him. Which made it much worse.
The whole reason this topic has come up today (and yesterday, since this ended up being a two-part article) is Facebook. Out of the blue, I received a Facebook friend invite from my high school basketball coach.
What? Why? Doesn’t he remember? Why would I want to be his Facebook friend? For that matter, why would he want to be mine?
I checked his profile. It looks like after a few years at my school, he went on to another private Christian high school where he stayed for many years. I expect he is even beloved. But I wonder how many others there are like me, permanently damaged through his deliberate actions. Or maybe he really was only an asshole to me. Which would be worse yet again.
It may be difficult to tell but no, I have never forgiven the coach. Thinking about it still pisses me off all these years later. And I am totally okay with that. I am in no way harmed by holding on to some hate; quite the contrary, it helps me identify the people who did well by me, all those years ago.
I call what he did to me “damage”, and it was. Serious damage. But I think it is not really damage anymore, it is a badge. A badge of asshole detection. A badge of “Life Is Not Fair, Deal With It”. A badge of “I Know Better Than To Ever Put Up With That Bullshit Again”. Most importantly it is a badge of “My Kids Will Not Go Through That Themselves, Ever”.
I am not going to forgive the coach. I don’t wish him well, but I don’t wish him evil either.
And I am most certainly not going to be his Facebook friend.