Tag Archives: forgiveness

The Heart of the Matter

“There are people in your life who’ve come and gone
They’ve let you down, you know they’ve hurt your pride
You better put those behind ya, baby, ’cause life goes on
You keep carrying that anger, it’ll eat you up inside…”
– lyrics from Heart of the Matter by Don Henley

This past weekend, I sat outside at a local restaurant listening to my sexy husband sing those lyrics up there from the song Heart of the Matter by Don Henley. Listening to him sing, being so proud to be his wife, and glancing at my surroundings, suddenly my memories started getting the best of me.

I started remembering our past with this song.

Photo of drummer, Richard Edmondson, of the band Restless. Photo credit: friend and fan, Jim Maloney

When I first started dating my husband, about five years ago, we had a pretty rocky start.  I don’t think he minds that I tell you this (and I’ve probably referenced it in previous blogs anyway), but when I met Richard he was still in love with someone else.  He was fresh out of a long-term relationship and the cut still stung, so to speak.

Now that I know him so well, I know this about him – when he loves, he loves hard. And a strong love like that doesn’t just go away overnight because a blunt, pushy redhead has entered your life and said it had to.

It took a while. Even longer than he admitted to me.

So, basically, for the first year of our relationship I had to share him with a memory that he couldn’t get past. But see – here’s the thing about those “memories” in a small town: THEY DON’T GO AWAY.

Oh no, those memories are everywhere. You run into Miss Memory at Walmart, at the bank, at get-togethers. And, the thing that used to sting the worst? We’d run into her at his music gigs.

Yep. There I’d sit falling even harder in love with my music man, all the while knowing that the woman who still had a piece of his heart was sitting there watching him too. And boy did I HATE that. Sure, she was innocent in this whole thing – what did she ever do to me?  (Besides existing. And being gorgeous. Grrrrrrr.) But why did she have to be there? I didn’t want her there.

But, ha. Try not wanting to run into someone in a small town. As my bonus dad used to say to me growing up, “You can want in one hand and shit in the other and see which one fills up fastest.” In other words, want all you want – it’s not going to happen. (Okay, actually, I’m not sure at all what that particular saying means. But when I picture a handful of shit, it kinda makes me not want to hold out my hand at all, you know? Oh, okay. So maybe that is the point…)

Anyway.

Back to the song.

I specifically remember the first time I heard him sing it. Of course, it was a time that she was there. There my boyfriend sat singing “I’m learning to live without you now, but I miss you baby…” and my blood was boiling. I just knew he was thinking of her. (Knowing this man who is now my husband as well as I do, he was not thinking of her – at least not while singing that song. He wasn’t thinking about me either. Or any human for that matter. He was thinking, “dear God, don’t let me forget these words. Are my drums too loud? I think the sound is a little off, I need to push some buttons. Boy, I’d love another beer. Oh crap, what’s the next line? I need to mow the yard…”)

[I interrupt here for the disclaimer that “I need to push some buttons” was my own words. My husband, the sound man extraordinaire would never call them “some buttons.” But you get my drift…]

I’m sure we fought about the song later that night.  We fought about a lot of things back then (all pretty much having to do with the same subject…) In fact, we even broke up once over it. (Well, once officially. We broke up a million times in our heads.)

Basically, life was pretty hard back then. I was the poor little victim of circumstance. And Richard was the poor victim of my tirades about that circumstance. There were many times that we both just thought we weren’t going to make it. And as far as I was concerned, if we didn’t make it – he’d know whose fault it was.

His.

So now that I’ve set the scene for what life used to be like for us, I’m going to switch gears here for a minute. In what will seem like a random and drastic change of subject, I want to tell you about an argument I got into recently with a friend.

[Hang in here with me – I promise there’s a method to my madness and I’ll come back to the other “Melissa is a jealous crazy woman” story in a minute.]

I was very involved and very stressed out by the last theatre performance I took part in. Not only was I an actor in the production, I was also the producer. It was my first time producing, and I had no idea what I was doing. On the night before opening night, things were still not ready – and I pretty much went off. Coming from my place as the producer, but also from my place as an actor and a perfectionist, I threw a fit over things not being ready as they should be. What started as a quiet, yet firm, talk with the director, turned into a frustrated yell fest with anyone who would listen. And one such person who not only listened, but participated, was someone who was a friend of mine. We both let out our frustrations by raising our voices. At one point, she started talking about something that was happening with her personal life and I retorted with, “I don’t care!”

Now, of course, I didn’t mean I don’t care at all. Or that I won’t care ever. What I meant was that I didn’t care at that moment because that’s not what was being discussed. But…as it goes sometimes…what I ‘meant’ doesn’t seem to matter. What I said did.

Cue the “breakup.”

I got deleted on Facebook. I got a gift to her returned to me. Etc.

Someone close to us told me that I hurt her deeply and this was the final straw for her with being involved in our theatre.

*sigh*

Okay. Here’s something that has always infuriated me…people playing the ‘victim.’ I mean, come on, people. If you have any interactions with people ever in your life – you’re going to get disappointed. You’re going to get hurt and you’re going to get mad. We’re all humans – we suck. But to let something someone else does affect you in such a deep way? To make you shut them out – to turn your back on your passions? To give them that much power?

How ridiculous!

Right??

Oh.

Wait a minute…

So. Back to the song.

There I sat this past weekend listening to my husband sing The Heart of the Matter. And though it has been over five years now since the first time I heard him sing it, there I was….still thinking those same old silly thoughts. (And incidentally – she was there listening too.  Yes, the she of our past. Right there in the gorgeous flesh. Small town, remember?  We still find ourselves in the same places at the same times, and probably always will…)

I’ve always been fascinated with the phenomenon that the things that irritate you the most about other people – tend to be things that you do yourself. Have you ever noticed that? It drives my husband nuts when people leave a room and don’t turn off the lights. And what does he do sometimes? Leaves rooms and doesn’t turn off the lights. He doesn’t even realize he does it! Really – think about it sometime. Think about something that really aggravates you that other people do, and then ask yourself honestly if you do it too. You might be surprised.

People playing the victim and making too much out of something has always infuriated me. Using some small thing as leverage to paint yourself in a victim light so that others see you as the “good guy” and the other one as the “bad guy” – when you know that’s not the case – drives me up a nut tree.

And yet…

What have I been doing? Exactly the same thing.

As all of this went through my head sitting there at that restaurant this past weekend, I had a brilliant discovery. I don’t want to be the victim anymore. Everyone in our situation has moved on. They moved on a long time ago. The only one still stuck in the past is myself.

The only person making me the victim…is me.

So, therefore, who would be the only person who could remove that victim cloak? You guessed it.  Also me.

The next time you find yourself the ‘victim’ of a situation, let this blog cross your mind. Ask yourself who really has the power to keep you there.

I’m betting it’s not who you think.

***

“What are all these voices outside love’s open door
Make us throw off our contentment and beg for something more?….
I’ve been tryin’ to get down to the heart of the matter
But my will gets weak, and my thoughts seem to scatter
But I think it’s about forgiveness, forgiveness…”

 

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Moments

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Awwww.  How sweet.

Ok, I’ll get back to this picture in a minute.  First – let me tell you a little something about myself.

I’m a jerk.

Oh yeah.  It’s true.  When I’m upset about something, I become an inconsiderate, irrational know-it-all who cannot see anyone else’s point of view but my own.  Especially when I’m already tired or stressed to begin with.  Anyone else like that, or am I all alone here in Jerkville?

Now, my boyfriend definitely knows this about me.  He has been a prisoner in Jerkville a few too many times.  And sometimes he likes to put a positive spin on this aspect of my personality by referring to it as my being passionate.  Passionate.  *Giggle*  (He missed his calling as a politician.)

But, then there are other times.  The times when he’s fed up and has had enough of the scenery in Jerkville and is ready to go home – that’s when he’ll call it like it really is.  He says I get crazy.

Ok, I’ll admit it.  Both are true.  Sometimes I’m passionately crazy.  But it’s because I feel things.  You know?  I feel them to my core.  There’s no half-assing it with me.  (Pardon my French.)  When I feel it, I feel it.

Now, sometimes that’s a good thing.  Sometimes it’s a wonderful thing actually.  I know I love with all of my heart, and then some.  I’d go to the ends of the earth for you if you’ve managed to win my heart.  And honestly, I kinda like that about myself.

But when the tide turns?  Ohhhh boy.  When the tide turns, it’s not such a good thing anymore.  It can get ugly fast.  Yep – it’s a flaw.  My biggest flaw, perhaps.  I admit it.

I, Melissa Caudill, am a flawed human being.  

I know, I know….shocking, isn’t it?  I thought I was perfect too!  But nope.  Turns out, I’m not.  Who knew!?

So, with all of that said, I want to tell you about something that happened in my latest argument with my honey.  Now, he is the exact opposite from me.  Polar opposite.  His way to handle a problem?  Clam up; don’t talk; wait for it to pass.

Bless his heart.

Now, you read all that stuff I just said about me, right?   If you were a fly on the wall during one of our spats, I can assure you you’d be quite entertained.  Honestly, though – (and don’t tell him this) – I admire him for the way he is.  In the same way that he admires my being “passionate,” I admire his being level-headed.  Calm.  Well, that is, until I’m pissed.  And then?  Then I think he’s….well….crazy.  Unhealthy.  A ticking time bomb.  He needs to let that junk out of his system!

In other words, I guess we’re both flawed.  It just happens to be in exact opposite ways.

Well, last night – as it has a few times in the past – those flaws came into play during a stupid argument.  I wanted to talk; he didn’t.  So, I marched my crazy self over to his house to make him talk.  When I first got there, he was asleep.  (Asleep?  Asleep!?  You think that is an excuse not to text me back??) 😉  After an unwelcomed chuckle from his half-asleep ramblings (he saw me and said in a slurred voice, “What are you doing in the band room?”…oh my gosh, I can’t even type that without laughing again – what the heck was that boy dreaming about?…), we got down to business.  We (I) ranted and raved and discussed every little thing each of us have ever done wrong in our lives from the time we exited our mother’s wombs.  Or, at least it seemed like that. Then, eventually, we chilled out and finally actually discussed the issue like we should have all along.

We’re fine now.  We still have problems, and always will (we’re human), but this catastrophe was avoided at least.

Now, back to the picture I posted at the beginning.  (See? I’m telling you this story for a reason.  And you thought I was just rambling….)

At one point during the argument, he got up and went into the kitchen to get a bottle of water.  (I know, right!?  How dare him walk away when I’m ranting…)  He came back into the room, and I took a deep breath and resumed where I had left off without missing a beat.  And in the midst of my continued rant, you know what he did?

He handed me a drink of water.

Here I was, hoarse from all the fussing at the poor man, and he hands me a drink of water to help me continue.

Isn’t that amazing?  You can be irate at someone – think that they are the craziest, most insane, irrational person alive – and yet when you love them, you still make sure they’re comfortable.  Make sure they know you love them.

These are the moments, people.  Not the candlelit dinners, not the flowers, not the cute little pet names.

The times the people you love are being anything but loveable – and you love them anyway.  The parent tucking in the child that just screamed “I hate you!” at them just before they fell asleep; the pet that still runs up to you and welcomes you home when you’ve left it alone all day; the adult child of an Alzheimer’s patient still patiently lifting a spoon to the mouth that curses them in confusion; the boyfriend who hands a drink of water to the woman who has just hurt his feelings.

These are the moments.

Don’t forget to notice them.  OK?

***

“Love is an act of endless forgiveness, a tender look which becomes a habit.”
– Peter Ustinov

The Gift of Forgiveness

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(This is one from my private archives.  More like a journal entry.  I wrote this years ago when I heard from an old love after not having heard from him in a long period of time.  For some reason, I keep being drawn back to this.  I have re-read it many times over the years when I found myself needing a reminder.  Recently, I’ve shared it with a few friends who have found themselves in the same situation, and they have said that reading it brought them comfort as well.  So, I’ve decided to share it on my blog.  Maybe you might be one that needs to hear it too.)

I got a text tonight from him. He wanted to know if we could talk.

Wow.

So, I had rehearsed what I would do or what I would say when/if this ever happened. Of course, I never really thought it would happen at all. But if it did, the Melissa of my fantasies was gonna be a hard ass. She was either going to (1) not respond at all; or (2) respond with a “not a chance, a$$hole” or something equally witty and clever. But somehow, that’s not exactly how it played out. It was more like a “Really? Well, now is not a great time, but would 10:00 p.m. be ok for me to call you?” Oh yeah, hard ass. Reeeeal hard ass.

So, I called him.

I really have no idea what I was expecting to hear. But what I did hear surprised me. There was no “I’m so sorry I ever let you go.” There was no “I really want you back.” There wasn’t even a “I just thought I’d say hey” or something equally mundane.

Instead, it was “Melissa, I need your forgiveness.”

I need your forgiveness.

The tone of his voice had that phrase behind everything he said. And yes, that phrase – I need your forgiveness – may sound selfish. And I’m sure it was. But there was more to it than that. He desperately needed to know that I was ok. That he didn’t do any lasting damage to me. Maybe it was partly for his own conscience. But that wasn’t all of it. I heard that guy who knows me. Who knew me better than most guys because I let him know me. And that guy that knows me knows that he truly and deeply broke my heart. And he wanted to know if it was healing.

So, you know what I did? I gave him what he wanted. I told him that I forgive him.

But you know what? I don’t.

Now, I will.  I know I will.  One of these days.  But not quite yet.

But he doesn’t need to know that.

Yes, it would have been easy to hurt him like he hurt me. It would have been easy to hang on to the bitterness and the pain and to lash out and remind him of how deep the wound was. But why do that? One little lie won’t kill me. I’m going to feel the same way tomorrow whether I let him off the hook and ease his conscience or whether I make him suffer more by giving him a recount of the past few months and how I cried myself to sleep many, many nights (more than I care to admit. More recently than I care to admit also). I was known for lavishing him with gifts throughout our entire relationship. And in a way, this was just another gift. Maybe my last gift. I gave him the gift of releasing him.

And you know what that said to me? That told me that when you love someone…really love them…one little sacrifice for their benefit is really not that big of a deal. And if I had it to do over again, I’d tell the same lie over and over.

***

“Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.”
-Mark Twain