I thought about this long and hard, and I could be glad Ex-Director is reading this blog. But only if the message he sent me expressed his truth.
If he’s open to the idea that he was wrong…
if he’s beginning to accept that he behaved in a way that deserves revulsion…
if he’s ready to acknowledge that he purposefully made women feel unsafe…
if those things are true, and this message came from an honest space within him…
…well, then the fact in and of itself that he’s open to the discourse feels like a step forward, albeit a very tiny baby one.
I just don’t know if I can trust the nature of his message in the slightest. He proved to me time and again that he couldn’t be trusted. How do I let go of that learned knowledge?
Part of me thinks he just doesn’t like being the bad guy, and he thought an apology would fix it. That could be my anger talking again, but my friend Mark sent me an article on abuse that I think I’ll talk about next.
Please don’t mistake my empathy for forgiveness. It’s a very important distinction to make.
I do not forgive Ex-Director for any of this, particularly as my count has now reached 16. Sixteen women — compassionate, intelligent, amazing women — that he managed to harass over a very long time.
So I’m not in a place to forgive Ex-Director. I’m only in a place to acknowledge that, if that message is his truth, then he’s taking a good hard look in the mirror and not liking the person he sees staring back.
And that’s difficult. And that’s good. And, here, that’s necessary.
But my empathy for the position he’s found himself in does not mean that I forgive him. I think he deserves that stare down with his own disgust. And I’m not sure he’s even reached that level of self-awareness yet.
If I ever did decide to forgive Ex-Director, that forgiveness does not excuse him of what happened. If anything, it highlights that the behavior was wrong, that he needed forgiveness.
Forgiving him would be something I did for myself.
Forgiveness is never about the other person, the person who hurt or wronged you. Forgiveness doesn’t mean reopening yourself to someone. It doesn’t mean telling someone what they did was okay. It doesn’t mean trusting them again. It doesn’t mean having a relationship with them at all.
Forgiveness is about not wanting to carry the load of anger or disappointment or hurt that comes with holding onto this moment in my life, to what he did, to how I felt. Forgiveness is saying, “I’m not going to think about this or you anymore. My emotional space is more precious than that. So I’m going to move on from here, and you can do whatever you need to do.”
It sounds great, doesn’t it? I’m just not quite there yet.
Listening to: “Shell Suite” Chad Valley