That's pretty messy, but so's the concept.
I've betrayed a person close to me some time ago. It's something I think about often and know I will never ever shed.
People talk about the infantilization of America...but I think what it comes down to in part is our unwillingness to accept the painful, introspective emotions. We talk about "letting go," and "moving on," and so forth, but there is something to be said for persistent grief and sadness.
Hamlet's final words, "Absent thee from felicity a while / And in this harsh world draw thy breath in pain..." are a testament to lasting grief.
Even so, I don't mean that.
Oh, sure, we all talk about the pain of being rejected, the pain of losing a loved one, and so on... but those originate outside us. This pain is brought into us from the outside.
Guilt and shame, on the other hand, are purely self-manufactured.
To misquote Gordon Gekko, "Guilt is good."
I'm not into self-flagellation, but the guilt I feel at my betrayal is like a badge in a perverse sort of way. I feel it often--perhaps not every day, but often enough that my guilt and my life and well connected. It's GOOD that I feel guilty.
Can you feel proud of feeling ashamed?
So my betrayal is something I carry with me and can never ever wash off. We go through life and pick up stains--stubborn ones that no amount of baptismal washing can cleanse. I know that flies in the face of some religion (the purging or washing of sin, the ultimate scapegoat in Christ) but I truly feel it is so. And they tarnish us and give us blemishes every bit as real as the age spots we accumulate. I am such a tarnished man.
And yet...I am loved anyway. To know one's faults and transgressions, and to KNOW others know them as well and yet love on...
That's the purest kind of thing.
So having been betrayed recently, why can I not find it in myself to forgive? I was forgiven mine: why can I not find it in myself to do the same?
Forgiveness is not an act of will. It is an act of love.
And I find I do not have love, or even affection, for this person. We all have our thresholds, our battle-lines. Once the Rubicon of our hearts has been crossed--for good or for ill--can we return?
I suppose I shall see. I know I am working through this issue in fiction, which is good. When life cannot provide an answer (and here's the secret, kids--it NEVER can) look to fiction as your tutor. I am working through fictional betrayal, which allows me to assess the issue somewhat more dispassionately than if it were happening to me. Though, truth be told, we do pour some of ourselves into our characters. I used to think there was a very clear demarcative line between the writer and his or her creations, but I have come to believe that is no so, nor should it be. So I can work though the concepts of betrayal in my characters' heads and see what it does to me in mine.
So. Somewhat self-indulgent, this time, folks. But it's my blog--I'll do what I want.
Be seeing you!