Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Grudge


In my ongoing quest to gain a better understanding of life on this little blue marble we call earth, I have been perusing a myriad of spiritual as well as self-help texts. One in particular that caught my fancy was authored by self-help author Karen Salmansohn who suggested differing methods to overcome bitterness caused by detractors by forgiving and forgetting their transgressions. It definitely perked my interest considering that I have been in an annoyingly constant state of trying to make lemonade out of the shit covered lemons left to me after an unceremonious divorce from the single longest relationship that I have ever sustained in my life… my job. I have never taken the sentiment of “forgiving and forgetting” lightly and I applaud those mature adults who are able to conjure up the wherewithal to transform their antagonists into simple protagonists with questionable agendas in their consciousness. I imagine that one day I will also achieve the sweet ambivalence towards past indiscretions that forgiveness affords.  But until that day comes what I can tell you is that right now I would like nothing more than to see all of those bitches burn in hell. For eternity. And when I take a good look at my life and the factions that have decidedly and intentionally put in efforts of Orwellian proportions to fuck with me, the list of faggots to be ignited gets greater. My goal is definitely forgiveness. Forgetting, on the other hand, seems to be a dish best served to the ignorant, the cowardly and the fool-hardy.

The eight guidelines that Salmansohn suggests are: Saying a Prayer, Focus on Gratitude, Look for the Lesson, Maintain Perspective, Learn the Lesson, Let Go of Resentment, Stay Centered and Get Revenge Positively.  All of which seems to fit into my newly formed mantra for healing of “Forgive but Never Forget”, outside of maybe the resentment part. Now the concept of “Never Forget” does overlap with the universally panned concept of “Holding a Grudge” since both require a healthy dose of continued acknowledgement of past indiscretions and all of the residual emotions that come along with it including resentment. And while Salmansohn quotes actor Carrie Fisher in referring to resentment as “the poison you swallow hoping the other person will die”, I tend to think of resentment as an occupational hazard of having emotions and being aware.  The trick is definitely to not be consumed wholly by resentment but the human heart, particularly if it’s open and warm, is much too delicious for antipathy to not nibble on when it has been betrayed or disregarded or maligned. I’m not confident if anyone can fully disengage from the resentment earned from those bites, the scar tissue alone can conjure up a base level of discontentment, but I do think as you heal you develop stronger defense mechanisms, and that granule of rancor that you carry from the experience, can be the strongest armor in making sure you don’t feel that pain again.

My relationship with my ex-employer lasted for close to twelve years and together we have made indelible improvements in under-served communities in south Los Angeles. When asked about the future of my ex-wife-cum-ex-employer without my assistance, I harken back to another divorce, Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt in 2005. Speculation has swirled in the press that while Pitt was married to Aniston, he engaged in an illicit affair with “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” co-star Angelina Jolie which fueled the split-up. Pitt and Jolie have since parented six children and have used their immeasurable fame and wealth to provide considerable support to humanitarian and political causes. But still, there was the affair. Jolie’s announcement of undergoing a preventive double mastectomy to lower her chances of developing breast cancer to under 5 percent in a Time magazine cover story brought genetic testing to the spotlight with Eric Topol, a geneticist and director of the Scripps Translational Science Institute referring to Jolie’s advocacy for wider accessibility for BRCA gene testing as a “moment that will propel genomic medicine forward.” But still, there was the affair. Pitt founded the Make It Right Foundation that organized housing professionals in New Orleans to finance and construct 150 sustainable, affordable new houses in New Orleans's Ninth Ward following the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina. But still, there was the affair.

After my own “divorce” papers were served swiftly and brusquely, I kept tabs on the progress of the company, not so silently hoping that my absence would be the one block in their Jenga tower that once removed, would crumble the entire organization. But alas, its foundation remains strong and the tower continues to grow. This is when the Aniston-Pitt-Jolie affair comes in to play for me. The ex-spouses (the detractors, the antagonists, the haters) can bring enlightenment of a medical condition to the masses, they can house people in need, they can cure cancer, cure AIDS, eliminate racism, sexism and homophobia from the face of the planet and receive satchels of gold for their efforts and none of it would deter from the fact that… they fucked you over. And in that fact is an unyielding need for them to give you solace via a simple apology or even an acknowledgement that they have done you wrong. But the truth of the matter is that apology more than likely will never happen. And whatever reprieve from the pain that you thirst you for is never going to trickle out of their faucet. Keeping tabs on them in hopes of their demise is a feeble attempt to try to be right instead of trying to be happy. They’re going to keep going regardless of your intentions and you would be wise to offer up your own ambivalence in regards to them in pursuing your own goals.

But that bitterness will remain. Not as intense as when the discretion first occurred, but that aftertaste is lingering. And again, while the goal is for it to not overtake your palette, I think it would be wise to remember that sour flavor to avoid eating certain dishes again. I don’t think it’s a matter of being emotional more so a matter of being emotionally economic and knowing where to lay your loyalties. When I think of the more traumatic moments in my life where family members have tried to annihilate me because of my sexuality, the employers that have deceived me, the friends that have betrayed me, the ex-lover that tried to sexually assault me, I can’t imagine an existence where a base level of discontentment would not come into play if I ever had the displeasure of encountering them again. I will, however, say a prayer, I will focus on gratitude, I will look for the lesson, I will maintain perspective, I will learn the lesson, I will stay centered and I will get revenge positively… by keeping a granule of resentment.  I will never forget. I will foster enough forgiveness to do the heavy lifting of carrying the burden of that memory, but I will never forget.





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