Lately I’ve been pretty pierced with emotions. It hit me yesterday when I was doing dishes at work – a memory of something I did once, something I said once, a way I responded once. I hadn’t thought about it in years, but suddenly, out of nowhere, it hit me like a body-shot right in the gut. Guilt I hadn’t felt in ages. The sentiment of being an immature, heartbroken young man who lashed out in anger at an Instagram post made by an ex. The scent was familiar but foreign – because I knew that was me, but the person I am is miles away from the young man I was then. Still, it hits hard. It’s a device of the enemy to make us feel like we are somehow still that person – that we never learned from those countless mistakes.
I remember what it was like to hide when she came to get coffee in the mornings, even though we’d broken up. I remember the dryness in my throat, the heartbeat skipped over not by infatuation, but by frustration; I remember trying to vindicate myself by telling my co-workers the story of how we broke up and just how unfair it was – and I wasn’t blind to the sequence of events, rather, I was some sort of color-blind. I still think of her because I go to her old church (then again, she may still attend.) I think of her because I’ve worried that I may never find a woman who is as upstanding in her faith and as good of a person as she is. I’m afraid I don’t deserve a “good Christian girl” anymore. Not after the way I treated her.
Not after the kinds of tricks I’ve tried to pull off.
Not after trying to manipulate relationships by trying to justify my occasional flying-off-the-handle by being overly sweet at other times. I remember the moment when I realized that there was a simple formula in my head: if you make a girl upset by losing your temper in some capacity (for me, it’s usually over-sentiment and emotionalism) then she’ll forgive you if you bring her flowers and some chocolate. I remember the temper tantrum I threw when I picked up my then-girlfriend who was supposed to stay the night with me and I asked her why she didn’t have her stuff with her. She said she’d changed her mind but didn’t tell me about it before picking her up. I lost my temper (because you can guess what I wanted to happen that night.) I have never physically hurt a girl, but man, have I messed with their hearts. I messed with them because I led them to believe I was a kind, sweet, gentle man, but the second things didn’t go my way, I snapped and became a control freak. I bent and snapped them until they fit my mold and what I wanted from them emotionally. and by God, I hate that there has been so much pain caused – to me but mostly to them – I have repented more times than I can count. and I’ve thought about writing them letters, because in some cases, I’m only now seeing how messed up I was. How scared I was; how approval-hungry I was; how manipulative I was; how foolish I was.
i’m not entirely sure why i decided to write this. i’m not sharing it on Facebook like i normally do – i’m not scared of it (or else i wouldn’t have posted it) but for the same reason you don’t put the dirty laundry in the living room when you have guests over. if they want to know, they can know. i guess on some level, i hope this is read by someone i hurt and i can reach a little closure. on another level, it alleviates some of the weight i’ve felt of mistakes i’ve made. i’m trying to figure out how the heck to reflect Jesus in my relationships – the romantic kind – because to this point i’ve been, quite frankly, unable to make that happen. usually i’m not mature enough to make it happen. sometimes i’ve dragged them (whoever i date) down, other times i’ve been unable to raise us both out of a quagmire of immaturity and selfishness and we both hurt each other in our attempts to protect ourselves. i’m trying to figure out what God has to do with it.
mostly i’m writing because it’s not who i am anymore. i’m not my mistakes, and i know that. and i hope that somewhere out there, this sticks with someone else who’s dealt with this, too.