Family · Mental Health · Self Improvement · Survival

heart of the matter

I’m learning to live without you now
But I miss you, baby
And the more I know, the less I understand
All the things I thought I’d figured out
I have to learn again
I’ve been trying to get down
To the heart of the matter
But my will gets weak
And my thoughts seem to scatter
But I think it’s about forgiveness (Forgiveness)
Even if, even if you don’t love me

There are people in your life
Who’ve come and gone
They let you down
You know they hurt your pride
You better put it all behind you baby
‘Cause life goes on
You keep carryin’ that anger
It’ll eat you up inside

I love this song. (Especially the India.Arie version.)

It’s given me something to focus on the last year, when I’ve often had consecutive days of feeling deeply, but not knowing exactly how to express it.

People tell me I’m good at being unbiased, that my diplomacy is a true skill. They remark on my ability to forgive, wondering if it’s a positive attribute or if I’m too nice and hence prone to getting taken advantage of. Mostly, people are surprised that I’m so “well adjusted” (or for those who aren’t as PC, “normal” or “sane”) for someone who’s “been through so much, oh honey!”

Honestly? I hold grudges. I have violent urges towards those who’ve slighted me. I’ve been known in the past to hit, scream, and cuss. Nowadays, I become numb to cope with the sheer volume of emotions. Hell, I quite frequently get real melancholy thinking about challenges life has thrown me and how I’ve failed them. I try hard to let go but sometimes the enormity of how not fair life is gets overwhelming.

That’s when I turn on this song.

I think most people focus on the assumption that this song is reflecting on a previous romantic relationship. But the times when I’m feeling extra despondent and allow myself to wallow in it (by listening to this song, and a few others, on repeat), I’m not usually recalling a romantic relationship.

I’m thinking about all the things I did to try to please my father, because I was a little daddy’s girl. I remember the times in my childhood when he made me laugh so hard I choked, the late night talks that occurred when we caught each other in the kitchen after midnight, him opening up to me about his childhood. I think about hating him – about him spitting in my face, throwing things at me, telling me that I’d amount to nothing because I’m a nobody. I cry as I relive my discovery of his untreated PTSD and bipolar disorder, my resolve to be there for him, his many calls for help and advice after I became an adult, his praise of me, and the long, ranty voicemails about how I was a bitch just like my mother. I try not to be ashamed that I still hesitate when he calls because I’m not sure what mood he’s in, so I tend to just not answer at all.

I’m remembering my best friend from middle school whom I found out was spreading rumors (are they rumors if they’re true?) that my family’s electricity was out because my mother couldn’t pay the bill since my father drank it up, that I was still a virgin probably because I liked girls, that I had to go through a complicated routine so my skin didn’t ooze pus during school hours. I reminiscence about our giggles while hidden up on tree branches, singing naughty songs on the swings, her holding my hand while I cried about family issues, and the confusion of trying to merge and reconcile these different actions and memories into my perception of my…friend? Was she my friend?

I’m recollecting the moment I realized that who I really was and what I really believed did not match up to how I was living. How I had to let go of that caricature of myself, no matter how much I put my entire identity into that role, and let myself be me. At the time, it was like I was rejecting everything I had been through, everything I had built, to step into the unknown: “And I thought of all the bad luck and the struggles we went through – how I lost me and you lost you. What are these voices outside love’s open door [that] make us throw off our contentment and beg for something more? I’m learning to live without you now, but I miss you sometimes. The more I know, the less I understand;  all the things I thought I knew, I’m learning again. I’ve been tryin’ to get down to the heart of the matter, but my will gets weak and my thoughts seem to scatter. But I think it’s about forgiveness even if you don’t love me anymore. Ah, these times are so uncertain; there’s a yearning undefined and people filled with rage. We all need a little tenderness. How can love survive in such a graceless age? The trust and self-assurance that lead to happiness, they’re the very things we kill, I guess. Oh, pride and competition cannot fill these empty arms, and the work I put between us, you know it doesn’t keep me warm!”

The song always brings me back to the realization that yes, hurtful things happen. But the thing that affects you the most is holding on to that hurt, that anger, that bitterness, that pain. So I’ll persist and continue to intentionally challenge myself to process negative emotions so that I can live my life authentically.

And I’ve learned that the hardest thing/person to forgive? Is myself.

But I think it’s about forgiveness
Even if, even if you don’t love me anymore

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