“Am I making the right decision?”, she wondered. Tendrils of doubt, arose like smoke from a smoldering fire and she began to second guess herself.
MAYBE he’ll admit he messed up. MAYBE he’ll say he’s sorry. MAYBE he’ll want to work things out. She allowed the thoughts to linger---but her reverie was short lived.
He was her abusive husband. At least for the next few hours. He was coming to take her to lunch and then to court. The irony of their shared commute to the dissolution of their marriage was NOT lost on her.
“You’re not going to ask for more money are you?” he asked nonchalantly, shattering any residual hope of reconciliation like a hammer to fine glass.
In truth, money was the furthest thing from her mind. After years of humiliation, pain, and secrecy, her primary desire was freedom. She wanted her life back.
She is my niece Angel.
She spent close to two decades embroiled in a volatile relationship with a narcissist.
She did hard work to heal from the mental, emotional, and spiritual wounds inflicted during an abusive marriage.
Forgiveness work was part of that process Reconciliation with her abuser was NOT.
She co-parents with him. She co-exists with him. But reconciliation is NOT an option. Because he is UNapologetic, UNremorseful, and UNrepentant.
I reflected on her story this week, as I struggled to untangle this week’s knotted web of emotions.
Pondering how to feel about, respond to, understand, those whose worldview and ideology led to four years of unwavering support for the departing President and embrace of his accompanying chaos. Especially after the insurrection, he incited in a thwarted attempt to overturn the election.
Domestic terrorists attacked OUR capitol. Threatened OUR citizens. And the leader of the insurrection was OUR president!
The world watched an armed mob storm the Capitol complex, creating bedlam as they advanced, leaving havoc in their wake.
And our "leader’s" response, was to observe from a distance as a firestorm raged unchecked.
His silence deafening. His motives self-serving. His inaction intentional.
America’s version of Roman Emperor Nero, fiddling as Rome burned.
Friends have shared conflicting emotions about what transpired. Many struggle to find language to convey the all of what they’re feeling.
I share their dilemma. But I DON'T lack for words.
I'm wrestling with a myriad of emotions. Anger. Grief. Anxiety. Despair. I’m at tolerance level ZERO for excuses and gaslighting.
It’s exhausting. Insulting. Demeaning.
Hatred is too great a burden to bear. I refuse to surrender to hate.
But I’m hearing repeated calls for an equally UNacceptable response: RECONCILIATION.
Reconciliation under the current circumstances is a non-starter!
Because there can be NO Reconciliation WITHOUT repentance.
One conservative commentator said the insurrection was "necessary" because it was the “only means by which the perpetrators could be heard”. Last summer, same commentator called 17 yr murderer old Kyle Rittenhouse a “patriot” for shooting two protesters in Kenosha.
By contrast, he (and others like him) decried NFL player Colin Kapernick a “thuggish son of a bitch” for protesting with a silent kneel.
His voice is one of SEVERAL I've heard echoing nonsensical drivel, and issuing false equivalencies galore, in the wake of these calamitous events.
An astounding level of deference was shown to rioters by police who demonstrated that they DO possess the discipline to hold fire, and exercise restraint when those being policed don’t belong to souls housed in black or brown bodies.
There is universal acknowledgement by EVERY Black person I know, that had these been Black insurgents, we'd be tallying the body count and awaiting mass funerals.
I hear GOP calls for reconciliation and unity the same way my niece would hear the call to be reconciled to her abusive spouse.
The answer is "No." Actually, it's "Hell No!"
One friend shared this perspective.
“For there to be RE-conciliation, would be to suggest there had ever been CON-ciliation. To reconcile is to restore a relationship that was whole, and is now broken. My relationship with these views has NEVER been whole. There is NO repentance, so there can be NO reconciliation---only forgiveness.”
Her words provided a mic drop moment of clarity.
Forgiveness is a solo decision. It’s my choice to release an offense. It frees ME from the burden of bitterness and its corrosive effects. It is independent of the actions of others. It does not require an apology.
Reconciliation, is different. It requires repentance. It requires heart change. It requires symbolic and practical action.
And in the presence of abusive behavior----IT REQUIRES THE ABUSE TO STOP!
And therein lies the rub!
James Baldwin said: “We can disagree and still love each other, unless our disagreement is rooted in my oppression, and denial of my humanity and right to exist.
Substitute the word “love” with the words “reconcile with”, and this quote well surmises where I land on this issue.
I will not reconcile with sedition. I will not reconcile with white supremacy. I will not reconcile with xenophobia, homophobia or misogyny. I will not reconcile with religious nationalism. I will not reconcile with anarchy.
I will not reconcile with ANY ideology which asserts in ways subtle or overt that my skin color makes me inferior and that my Black life does not matter!
That said... I CAN choose to forgive adherents to this belief system. I CAN choose to peacefully co-exist from a safe distance.
And I CAN add a few Yeses to my HARD NO.
I can say.... YES, to civility. YES to seeing individual humanity beyond ideology. YES to the pursuit of light despite the prevalence of darkness.
I will close as I began, with the words of my niece:
“My husband was in a relationship with one wife and three children. The president is in an abusive relationship with an ENTIRE country, that is connected to the WHOLE world. If not impeached, he stands to be protected by the government for the rest of his life. Imagine my husband being protected no matter what he did because we share children!”
So where do we as a nation go from here? I do NOT claim to know.
Like everyone else in my friend circle, I am still processing the full magnitude of what transpired.
Sometimes, the path becomes clear as you walk it.
I’m not sure where my journey along this path will lead. I'm taking along a backpack of FORGIVENESS But I will not be making a pit stop at RECONCILIATION.
Forgiveness is an ongoing element of spiritual and emotional well being. But forgiveness does not always lead to reconciliation.