Thursday, January 2, 2014

Life is not fair, and I am angry about that.

It's been welling up again. I've sensed it, and for some reason, I haven't addressed it.

I feel a tremendous amount of anger. The last time I received a message from CLS was in late July of 2012. The message was as follows:

(It began with a salutation, ironically, started with "Mrs.")

This'll be short.  I'm writing this to you now to ensure you know the extent of these thoughts.  This has been rewritten many times (I've even tried recording it, but that was just dumb), and it never quite sounds right, but I'll do my best.  I'm not even sure if you care to hear this.  I can only speak for myself, and since I would want the sincerity of someone who wronged me, that's what I'll send you.

I want you to know I'm sorry.  It's been said before, and I meant it just as much then, but there's a little more to it.  I'm sorry for what happened, truly.  But I'm also sorry for the person I was when you knew me.  I was that person because I allowed it to be that way.  No excuses here, just another apology and a little explanation.

About ten months ago I really was in a place of choice.  There were two distinct paths.  The one meant denial of my mistakes and faults - pour some dirt on it, plant a flower or two, and pretend to forget it happened - and that choice led straight to a dark, unhealthy place.  The other meant admitting to my mistakes, admitting to the horrible person I allowed myself to be, and to admitting that change was absolutely necessary.  

I've tried the first before.  This will all sound very direct and overly-blunt, but it is better explained with no emotion: when I was young, there was an older man and sexual misconduct, and I told no one nor did I seek help.  I should have.  Instead, I pretended to forget, and I refused to admit to the effect it had on the way I treated people (and allowed them to treat me).  Afterward, I allowed myself to be in more unsavory situations out of a twisted sense of obligation and a profound difficulty with the word "no" - I certainly wouldn't admit I still wasn't treating people right years later.  I understand this absolutely isn't an excuse - really, I do.  The fault is mine for not being honest with myself and with people who could have helped me and for later going against what is moral.  But it was a lesson, and it's why I'm taking the other direction this time.

So often it feels like people are ready to accept others for what they are and what they've done - ready with compassion and kindness and forgiveness; I can't speak for anyone else, but I've found it's difficult to earnestly turn that same care inward.  

The guilt is here every day, and perhaps that seems right to you - I'm not sure.  You once said I faced no accountability for my actions.  Externally, accountability didn't directly come until I was honest with my family and others.  Internally, accountability has been here daily.  We each have to find ways to live with ourselves, I suppose, and what that means is different for every person.  For me, it means humility in every sense of the word.

The point of this is to try to convey my sincerity to you.  I regret what I did every day, and that isn't an exaggeration.  But I have to forgive - and that applies both to others and to myself.  I have to.  If I can't live with myself, then there's no use living, and me just giving up would be the ultimate selfish act toward my family and those I've wronged.  Better to carry the mistakes and try to help others with what I'm learning than to take the easy way out.

I'm so sorry for what I took part in.  I do not expect your forgiveness, and after this, I will leave you and those near to you entirely alone.  You have much to give the world in ways only you and those like you can, and I truly wish you nothing but happiness and wellbeing.  God bless you, and I appreciate you reading this.

Take care.

With sincere apology,
(Ended with name)

So, that was that. I was given a "Sorry I betrayed you. I feel badly about what I did (to be clear, there was no statement of regret for the impact it had directly on me, and yes, she is capable of making that distinction). I will leave you alone, and yep, I'm taking the absolute last word."

Every so often, I feel a fair amount of personal guilt for feeling ANGRY about the way this relationship ended. I mean, she says that she was abused, and I'm well aware of how any sort of childhood abuse can permanently jack up one's ability to make good and relatively harmless life decisions. I should take her word when she says that she feels an intense amount of regret. I should be moving up and moving on and celebrating that she has, by all accounts, created a good amount of success in her young life.

Jesus Christmas, though, I can't keep doing that. She fooled me multiple times. She lied repeatedly, even before the affair (when she was stealing from my friends, or lying about other people, or doing other things to maximize her position or push others away from me or my former spouse). She was very good at it. And, as a reformed liar, I know that those habits die extremely hard, and every time I read her words, I see a thick layer of bullshit.

This was my protege. This was my star student, and she was the one who always seemed to be so much like me, only with more promise. When she told me she was being bullied, I saw my history, repeating in her. She asked for my help, and I gave it, in part because I did not receive the same sort of help when I was a teen. When her mother told me she had an eating disorder, I saw my story with only slight variations. And, because of those similarities, she latched on, and I did everything that I could to see her gain the very best in every area of life that I could influence.  Was I doing too much? Maybe. I think that all mentors run that risk. I didn't have a mentor- at least, not one who would claim me- so perhaps I'm wrong. But, looking at colleagues, I saw similar relationships. 

Anyway, this was the kid who made teaching worthwhile. She was the one who was looking up with rapt attention and marveling at just how amazing music could be. She (and a core of fellow students, some of whom are now vaguely friends of mine, all of whom are grown adults) made teaching exciting.

I suspected that the affair and her betrayal was partially responsible for my sudden change in teaching ability. At the time, I thought it was the emotional upheaval and the pain, which was making EVERYTHING difficult. The longer I am away from the classroom, the more I am realizing that it had much more to do with her and the loss of the protege than it did with the affair itself. 

I can't explain why, and I hate that I can't explain it. 

What I hate more than anything is being unable to understand something. I do not understand this. 

Every so often, I will have to do something that is marginally related to my former career. I guest lectured for a friend's class a couple of months ago. I explained how to make sound with a whistle last week. Things like this are close enough to what I used to do, and when I do them, I feel two things. I feel really, really sad. I also feel really, really home. It's those times when I realize how much talent I had as a  teacher, and it's when I realize what I really lost. I feel a passion for my new career in a way that I never experienced as a music teacher. This does not mean that my heart was not fully into my job. And that was what was lost. I think it was the ability to trust my students, and with no trust, teaching music doesn't work. Ask any of my former colleagues. I know that I won't ever again be a mentor in any meaningful way, and that is very sad. 

When I think about the times where I do something "teacher-y", that's when I feel this acute sadness. And this is when I feel tremendous anger toward CLS. And because I allowed her to have the last word, that's as far as it will ever go. I have no ideas of how to process the anger and the sense of loss. 

I am lost, and this is her fault. 

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