Monday, September 10, 2012

awkward letters

I found this letter recently in a used book I bought online:

Your pearls and dress are in my room/Dad's study. I no longer wish to receive your spitefulness and hatefulness (your comment about my weight loss is an example of your hatred and disrespect for me). I do not know why you hate me so much--but that is your problem. However, I do not wish to have my looking forward to my family diminished because I know I have to deal with your malice. You haven't been much of a sister to me anyway--except when it suits you--so it will be no great loss for me to no longer associate with you.
I do not intend to interfere with whatever relationship you have with the rest of the family, and expect you to do likewise.
Any efforts at reconciliation would have to come from you--when and if you ever deal with your problem of the mean and abusive way in which you have treated people in general, and myself in particular.
Sincerely, Cath... (?)

And I wondered about this mysterious note for quite a while:

-how old is this person?
-did her old room become Dad's study?
-how much did Cathy weigh? How did she lose weight?
-what on earth did Lydia actually say?
-were they real pearls or fake?

I also made several assumptions:

-it's from an adult because it is written in grown-up cursive: letters slanted and skinny, not fat and happy like we write when we're young.
-and, young people don't use words like malice and diminish, unless they're trying to get into an Ivy League school.
-it's from a woman because she borrowed pearls and is sensitive about her weight
-it's a rough draft, many words are crossed out and reworked, and it was printed on two index cards--did she ever send a final draft?

The primary reason I spent so much time mind-fucking this doozy is because I could have written it myself... to someone in my family.

And I let it bother me. Too often.

And we likely all have people like this in our lives. People we allow to steal our energy while we waste it on thinking and re-thinking how what was done in the past was interpreted so differently than we ever intended... how a slight misstep or a casual remark was taken as offensive... how a missed occasion or a lack of calling was perceived with malicious intent.

Yet. To confront this person and attempt healing is a vulnerable step--one that requires risking much discomfort and awkwardness. Confrontation is like getting a bikini wax--I know I'll be happier that I did it, but I dread the appointment. Much easier to take Cath...'s path: Just cut 'em off and give them all the responsibility.

"I do not know why you hate so much--but that is your problem." Well, Cath... I'm afraid I may have to disagree with you there. I suspect that hating someone is more difficult on the hater than the hated. My time spent hating, resenting, and stewing over my nemesis causes me more pain than it causes her. The time I've wasted in anger toward her are more revealing of me than of her. My anger points to some work I need to do in my own soul, maybe some truths I need to deal with about my harsh personality, maybe some sharp corners I need to sand. The anger reveals my own disappointment that not everyone loves me and thinks I'm wonderful. Why the hell not? My anger reveals my search for an identity in the approval of humans. My anger reveals that I want this person to be different than who she is. As if I have the magic potion and have figured it all out. My anger reveals arrogance. And it also reveals that I have a difficult time picturing her as a "child of God... dearly beloved." And treating her as such.

So, instead, I should say, I don't know why you hate me so much, but it is MY problem that I haven't done more to help heal the wounds and distance between us. It is MY problem that I wallow in anger over the seeming injustice of your seemingly unfair appraisal of me. It is definitely MY problem that I have lowered you in my estimation merely because you don't like me as much as I believe that you should.

So, I'm going to try and let my anger go. Just drop it like a spider in the toilet. Flush it away. In reality, it may be a bit more like weaning... the web is attached, so it may take some effort.

Cath... I hope you're able to do the same.

1 comment:

  1. Lots of mature reflections here, to take responsibility for what is ours, relinquish control, patiently let go of anger, and wish the best for others.

    (On a side note, I don't think I've ever found anything this interesting tucked away in a book before.)