Last night I went to a play and there, during intermission, I saw her. She looked at me quizzically. When she caught my eye, she came to me and bantered lightness.
How are your children? Are they living in town? How lucky you are? Her questions rambled on.
I was gracious. And uncomfortable. My body entered into a conversation that withheld me, not wanting to give her anything that I valued. I responded with surface answers and engaged in questions to deflect. My mind, though, went to many years ago when we worked side-by-side. When she hurt me. Deeply. When I was young and when I jumped to a new position to move away from the hurt. (A life lesson was learned in the jumping, but that is another story.)
It was then that the forgiveness cycle began. For me. I knew that to truly move on, I needed to forgive. I knew that forgiveness benefitted the forgiver. So I forgave, so I thought. And moved on.
Then last night I saw her again. As she volleyed her words, asking me to do the same, my mind was filled with questions.
What did I do to you that made you feel you needed to undermine me? I was blindsided. Why?
At that moment I knew that forgiveness needed to run deeper still. I thought I had done the hard work. I thought I had forgiven with the passing of many years. And in the easy-spirit conversation of nothingness, when there was no between conversation of what really did happen, I knew that resentment lingered.
She speaks to me as if I am a long, lost friend.
Yet, I know. I know you hurt me. I know it was wrong. I know I forgave you and I see now, as we chitchat lightness in the shelter of the theater during half-time, that my work is not fully done. In the catch of eye-to-eye during a break between scenes, I know I have more work to do for me to be over the hurt. Some wounds are deep. I thought I shed the skin of many layers, yet in an instant the rawness reappeared. I have yet another layer to shed…many years after the event.
When will the last layer be shed? Perhaps we will meet again…not during intermission, but after the final curtain call. Then, maybe, I can be gracious and comfortable. Then, perhaps, I will have uncovered that last layer and know the final freedom of full forgiveness of you. For me.
Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for dedicating space and time for teachers and teachers of literacy to come together to share ideas, practice and life experience.