We find ourselves, Dutch (my wife) and I, in one of those times, in one of those quiet periods, the aftermath of one partner hurting another. And I’m struggling with the question of how to live with the harm we cause one another. It’s easy to bluster for a while, or to deny, or to lie. It’s easy to say I didn’t do anything, or to say that what I did wasn’t such a big deal. But all of that is just postponement, just deflecting from the task of admission and atonement and talking together to find a way back to wholeness, or, I should say, a way forward to wholeness. The talking I can do; the talking makes sense. The hard part involves moving through the silences that are laced with pain, with pain I caused that I didn’t have to cause. The hard part involves living with the now shared knowledge that we are where we are because of flaws in me. And the truth is I know I’ll never not be flawed. And the truth I know that’s what done can never be undone or erased.
I keep asking myself how to deal with damage I inflict. Oh, I know that first I have to stop doing the things that cause the damage. But ending the actions is the easiest part. Dealing with the echo of the actions, with their reverberation against the walls of house as we move around one another, the reverberations within the walls of my head, or her head as we try again to touch one another, I feel at a loss sometimes to know how to move or even how to breathe.
For a boy who was raised Catholic, for a former altar boy who spent endless hours listening to the liturgy of the Mass, I seem now to have no idea what redemption looks like. I used to think that I have hoped for forgiveness, but I don’t see that as something to hope for, certainly not something to ask for. That’s for those who are hurt to grant or not, in their own time, along with their own needs. I have no say in that. No, what I need is redemption, a way to reclaim some sense of worthiness from the steaming pile of thoughtlessness in which I’ve sunk myself. But, I suppose in typical recovering Catholic fashion, I can believe in performing penance, but I don’t know if I really believe in redemption for myself at the end.