Recently I came across an image that shared the quote, “The version of me you created in your mind is not my responsibility.” That stuck with me and it’s been something I’ve pondered rather significantly for a while now.
You see, back in November I was extremely cruel to a fellow parent. They had done nothing to deserve the treatment I gave to them, and I was completely in the wrong. This incident sadly played out on social media and it is something I am profoundly ashamed of. I tried to apologize to the person as well, both publicly and privately. I’ve tried to own this mistake. I’ve tried to not shy away from what I’ve done wrong. I’ve done all I know how to do in order to make it right.
I’ve never heard from the person I wronged, and that is something I understand. Whether or not they choose to forgive me is their choice, and theirs alone. Their distance from me is their version of boundaries and so I respect that immensely. I’ve spoken at length about forgiveness and boundaries. It’s something I live my life by as well.
What troubles me, isn’t that I’ve not been forgiven by the person I’ve wronged, what troubles me are those people in my life who decided that I shouldn’t be forgiven, no matter how much I tried. What is troubling are those who want to take this incident that I am profoundly ashamed of and use it against me at every possible turn as an example of who I am as a human being. My shame and repentance is removed from the narrative, instead it is simply the sin on display for all to see who care to listen to the “dramatic” tale.
What this reveals to me is that none of these people were ever my actual friend. See, friendship is something, that when real, accepts all of who you are as a human being, both good and bad. When you’re good they celebrate and encourage that goodness, and when you’re bad they try to help you find your way forward and learn from your mistakes in a loving and positive way so that you can try to be a better person. By refusing to not just forgive me but openly shame me to all willing to only hear their side of the story, a version of me is propagated that isn’t true to who I am as a human being. All this does is serve their own twisted agendas, none of which has anything to do with who I am or what I stand for.
What I stated to one of these people was that I hoped they never did anything wrong ever in their whole life, for I have tried to live my life by the Bible verse that says before you remove the speck from your brother’s eye remove the log from your own, as well as the decree that we should not sit in judgment of one another. We are each of us imperfect human beings and in our imperfection we will all do things that we are not proud of. If there is a single person out there who has never wronged another human being then please stand up and share your secret of perfection, because truth be told, that person doesn’t exist.
Short of being able to turn back time and undo the manner in which I treated this other parent, all I can do is own what I’ve done, which again I’ve done as publicly as possible, and genuinely apologize for it, which I have desperately tried to do. The version and interpretation of me that my former “friends” try to propagate isn’t something that I have control over though, and as such is something I have to let go. I cannot control the narrative that others attempt to spread, all I can do is be true to who I believe myself to be, and live the best life possible. The only forgiveness that I seek in this entire equation is from the person I genuinely wronged, but short of their willingness to forgive me, which is their personal choice, I also have to be willing to forgive myself. Can I forgive myself and still regret what I did? Absolutely. What I did was not true to who I am as a person. I was in a bad place and I took that darkness out on someone innocent, and I did so publicly. I will always regret that action.
Yet my sadness goes further. When these so-called “friends” walked away from me they told me to not be dramatic and drag their names through the mud, and I’ve not. I’ve spent the time since then trying to find my way forward. I’ve spent time trying to find my voice again, my advocacy, my mission once again, reconciling to myself the cruelty I heaped onto someone and how that changes who I am perceived to be within our small community.
But what this journey has taught me is that I cannot control other’s actions. I’ve always been a firm believer in taking responsibility for your own actions, and I’ve tried to live up to that personal expectation every single day of my life no matter how hard it is. What I know is that none of us are perfect and we are all human. I wronged someone and I will always own that fact. I cannot make her forgive me. That is her choice and her choice alone. Her perception of me is her version of me, regardless of if it is true to who I really am because that is her experience, and I cannot change her truth.
These versions of us that live outside of ourselves, outside of our own control, is what drives us insane sometimes. If you allow yourself to be overrun by guilt for something you’ve done everything in your power to fix but ultimately cannot, then do you keep circling through the pain because of yourself or the perception you think someone else has of how you should be dealing with it? In other words, are you inflicting self-torture to make yourself a martyr, a victim, or because you have emotional issues that you should maybe seek therapy for? For me, my anxiety keeps me circling the drain of self-pity until I can reconcile my actions against what I know to be my truth and come to terms with how to move forward, hopefully having learned from the experience.
What I do know is the space in between, that space between me, myself, and I, and all of the versions out there of me that I have no control over, I have to let that go. I have to find a way to find peace in my own heart and mind, even if it is never granted to me by the only person whose forgiveness I seek.
But, people who once pretended to care for me are refusing to allow me to move on. Those that asked for no “drama” did in fact create drama, and months later still are. They can’t let the version of me that lives in their head go, and the anger, whether directed at me or inwardly at themselves, clearly continues to consume them. This is something I have to let go of as well. They think their actions are genuinely bothering me, and while, when some of these actions are pointed out by those who do genuinely care for me, yes, my heart drops to my feet in grief, but moments later I remind myself that this is now their problem, their story, and I am not a part of that story. The only part of me that they are clinging to is the version in their head, not the real me.
They can choose to change the narrative, but for some reason they choose not to. That’s fine. I’m no longer looking backwards, only forward. I know my truth, I know my heart, and I know myself. The dyslexia community is a cruel community and we are not very understanding nor kind to one another on the whole. This is something I had hoped to change, but even in my hope I succumbed to the cruelty myself. Moving forward I choose instead of beating myself up, to learn from this mistake and use it to try to build bridges instead.
Each of us needs one another. Good, bad, indifferent, and all the things in between that separate each of us, we need to embrace it all and through unified voices we can create real change. If we continue to pick and choose the voices that “are allowed” to represent us, no matter how briefly that “approval” even genuinely lasts, then we will not get anywhere and our mission is doomed to fail.
There has been so much profound work and achievement by brave individuals who have taken enormous risks to bring about change. We need to celebrate these victories and compound them exponentially, not degrade them and try to reinvent the wheel each and every time. We need these women who achieved these things to lead others to follow in their footsteps, not be afraid of losing power or being replaced by a more dominant voice. This is a decades long marathon that will never truly end. The literacy debate will rage for generations, it will just continue to morph and take on new designations and new battlefronts, as intellects will create new and both good and bad belief systems.
So do we allow these versions and interpretations of people within our community dominate our perceptions, or do we instead seek truth, kindness, and unity? I know what I choose.
So as I lay the past 9 months of pain down, I have some final words to some very specific people. You know who you are. I did see the posts and the meme too. I’m not stupid. That doesn’t make you morally superior to me, it’s in fact the inverse. By refusing to not just not forgive but constantly remind everyone what I did, you refuse to allow people (me) to make things right, learn, grow or ever move on. You are perpetually insisting that the sin be relived over and over and over again. Who does that serve? Only your own anger and agenda. But, that’s ok. Unlike the forgiveness you will never give to me, I forgive you. The tragedy now is your belief that your treatment of me is justified, but it isn’t kind, decent or even humane. It’s no better than how I treated that one parent, and like that incident, your treatment of me is playing out on social media without apology. It’s just cruel and it’s cruel for cruelty’s sake, but that’s ok. I’m a big girl. I know the truth, and I can handle this too. Thank you for reminding me of my own strength. I needed that reminder. You are now in my past, not my present or my future. I truly wish you well and I hope you find peace.