It’s not so much an apology that I want from those who have acted from their own shit and hurt me badly in the process. I know, after all, that they were just doing the best that they could do at the time, struggling with their own limits and issues.
No, what I want from them is some acknowledgement that they understand that their action or lack of action required me to pay a price, and often a big price.
To acknowledge their own accountability, though, would mean that they have to be reflective and considerate, going back and seeing where they missed the mark.
Doing that kind of work would mean that they have to see how they haven’t changed the patterns that lead to their choices.
The patterns they hold are their survival techniques, the way that they have ended up being to tolerate what they have to tolerate in the world.
Change doesn’t feel like an option for them because they are just holding their head above water, just barely surviving the burdens of everyday life. How can they even think about change when they are consumed with the challenges and stresses of this month, this week, today, this moment?
Without change, though, nothing will change. Unless something gives, nothing is going to give.
The reason most people don’t put in the time and effort to hold themselves accountable is because they can’t imagine making any other choices, not then, not now and not in the future. They just are who they are and do what they do, so the people they are in relationship with just have to take it or go. Simple.
I’m trans. I knew, from the depths of my being, that if I didn’t create change in my life I would be crushed by the wearing routines of daily life. The conventions not only didn’t fit me, they were squeezing the life out of me.
I couldn’t create change in my life without evaluating where I missed the mark, where change was needed. How was I making choices that didn’t consider and respect that which I claimed to value in the world? How was I acting on priorities that were hypocritical, different from what I said I loved and I wanted?
One of the key challenges in any religion is becoming a better person by learning to make choices that are more aligned with our stated beliefs. We gather together to reflect on our lives, assessing where we can do better than we have done in the past at embodying the spirit we follow.
It’s easy to get all tangled up in the needs and habits that it feels like society demands, easy to put doing the work of becoming more actualized, integrated and righteous on the back burner. It’s easy to get caught up in the urgent and miss the important, easy to spend our energy fighting fires and trying to recover rather than making a world that is more balanced and fireproof.
The ego likes to maintain the status quo by repeating old patterns and hates to have to do the uncomfortable and challenging work of seeing where and how change is needed. Change always requires saying no to something, requires letting go of something, requires engaging loss to claim the new, better and scary.
I know that people who can’t acknowledge how they have made choices that hurt me are people who can never change the patterns that slammed me over and over and over again.
I know that no matter how much work I do to get clear and make better choices, if the people around me keep doing the same shit, resisting growth and healing because they are consumed with their habits, my world will never really change.
I don’t need them to apologize to me. I know that they did the best they could in the moment, no matter how much it hurt me.
I do need them to acknowledge the outcomes of the choices they made, because if they can’t do that, they will keep making the same choices and keep slamming me in the process.
This is hard for them to do, I know. Change is always hard. Our habits seem to be the only things that keep us moving forward, the only bits that might finally get us what we have always desired. For most, change is never a first response rather it is a last resort, engaged only when there seem to be no other possible alternatives.
People heal in their own time and in their own way, and that includes me.
Until we can stand up and acknowledge that we have a problem, that our choices are causing ourselves and others pain and struggle, though, we can’t even start to find new and healthier ways to be present in relationship with those we care about.
I don’t need apologies. I do, however, need acknowledgement. Without that the future is bleak, because I have no hope of change.
No matter how hard I try, I can’t do all the changing; others have to come along with me and there is no way they can do that until they acknowledge that change is necessary, until they commit to the work of engagement and growth.
I need hope for change, hope that there is a better world for me. And I know that the first thing that has to happen is that we have to agree that the old patterns aren’t working, have to acknowledge that change is required.
But I also know that most people are just struggling to get through today, are consumed by what they feel mired in, and for them change seems like a luxury they cannot afford.
For we change eaters, though, the liminal ones, we know that life without change is just death without rebirth.