How Do I Forgive Someone?

How do I forgive someone
For the way they treated me?
Just because I was different
From them.
Because I did not behave
The way that they all did.

How do I forgive someone
For the harm they have caused me,
And my family?
When they declared
They I was broken.
And needed to be repaired.
And made into someone
Just like them.

How do I forgive someone
That attacked me
Just because I cared
For the people I worked with?
And I let it show.
I let it effect
The work that I did.

Is that so very wrong?

How do I forgive someone
That used me like a tool
For years, and years.
And when they had
No more use for me,
They threw me away.

As if I were a car
They they didn’t want
Any more.

How do I forgive someone
That continues
Harming people?
That continues treating them
As if they were expendable,
Replaceable parts.

How do I forgive someone
That has now done the same thing
That they did to me
To one of my friends?

All because she was not
Like them.
All because,
Like me,
She cared for the people
That she worked with.
And for the work
She did.

How do I forgive someone
That only cares for others
As long at they don’t have
To make a choice?
To take a risk.
Of any kind at all.

When they only thing
They really care about
Is themselves,
And the things they have?

I suppose
It’s understandable.
The way that they behave.
For I know
What it’s like
To be hurt.
I understand all too well
That kind of pain.

But still, I have to ask
How do I forgive someone
When they’ve forgotten
The truth.

That if you avoid pain,
You cripple your ability
To feel everything.
Hope and joy,
Laughter and excitement,
Empathy and sympathy.

That if you cripple your ability
To feel one emotion,
Then you cripple your ability
To feel anything at all.

I asked
At the beginning
How do I forgive someone
For what they’ve done?

I know all too well
The words that God
Has given us
About forgiving people.

You have heard it said,
“Love your neighbor
And hate your enemy.”
But I tell you:
Love your enemies
And pray for those
Who persecute you,
That you may be sons
Of your Father in heaven.

These words tell me what to do.
On that
They’re crystal clear.
But they do not answer
The basic question.
How do I forgive someone
For what they’ve done to me.

I spoke of how the people
That hurt me so badly
Have crippled themselves.
By cutting out
Their ability
To feel pain.
And other things.

And I’ve learned
That this is where
The answer
To my question likes.

If I continue reading
The words from the Bible.
I find that this is what they say.

He causes his sun to rise
On the evil and the good,
And sends rain on the righteous
And the unrighteous.
If you love those
Who love you,
What reward will you get?
Are not even the tax collectors
Doing that?
And if you greet
Only your brothers,
What are you doing more
Than others?
Do not even pagans
Do that?

And I find,
As I read these words
That any anger I may have
Is fleeting.
And soon fades.

For I know how wounded
Those that hurt me,
That hurt my friend,
Really, truly are.
For by running from the pain
Of life.
And preventing it
Within their lives.
They have blocked the rain.
And live in drought.
In the desert.
Every day.

It is as I read theses words
That God has shared with mortal men
That everything begins to change.
And I know
I have already
Forgiven them
For the things they’ve done.

For I also know
How much pain,
And how much fear
They live in
Every day.

Can you imagine this world
Without any rain?

Knowing that the people
That hurt me so
Don’t even know
That they are wounded.
That they have hurt themselves
As badly as they have.
Leaving scars upon their hearts
And souls.

How can I blame them
For the things they did?

Which leaves me with
One final thing to do.

Forgive me, God,
For the anger that I’ve shown
In this past week.
For I know
With in my heart,
And from the words
That you have given us.

That my anger
Was misplaced.
And I was wrong.

How do I forgive someone
For what they’d done to me?

Indeed.

How can I not?

[Author’s Note:

The scripture contained in this piece is from the Holy Bible, The New Testament, The Book of Matthew. Chapter 5. Verses 43 through 47, the New International Version.]

He Sat On The Carpet

He sat on the floor.
On the carpet.
With his legs folded
Indian style.
His hands
Resting on his knees.

His eyes were open.
And he looked
Straight ahead.
Breathing deeply.
In and out.

And as he sat there
On the carpet
Of his home,
He thought
Of the people
That he knew.
Those he called
His friends.

He thought of the church
That he’d been going to.
How very much
The people there
Had welcomed him.

He knew
That he was different
From them.
That it was hard for him
To understand
His friends.
And the people
Of his church.

It was hard for him
To understand
How they behaved.
How they acted.
The things they said
And the things they did.

He had spoken with his friends
Many times.
About the problems
They had endured
In their lives.
And the problems
They were facing
Even now.

He knew how many of them
Were hurt.
Were facing problems
Of so many kinds.
Physical injuries.
Unemployment.
Divorces.
Family problems
Of all kinds.

He knew too,
That the people of the church
Were also facing
Problems in their lives.
They had a prayer list
That they reviewed
Every Wednesday night.
With over 200 names
Of people
And of families
Listed on it.

All kinds of cancer.
Heart diseases.
Broken bones.
Unemployment.
Personal problems.
The list went on
And on
And on.

He’d seen people
At the church
As they prepared
For surgery the next day.
There were so many people
In the church
That were hurt.
And dealing
With so very much.

As he sat there
On the carpet,
He did the best
That he knew how
To ask God
To take care of them.
If the were to be healed,
Then he asked
That God heal them.
If they were not,
Then he asked that God
Take care of them.

He wished very much
That all his friends,
And the people of the church
Would know
He was concerned for them.
That despite the appearance
That he felt nothing for them.
That he just seemed angry,
And aloof.
That it sometimes
Seemed to them
That he was laughing
At them.

He wished everyone
Would simply understand
That he wasn’t
Cold and heartless.
And uncaring.
And unfeeling.

He wished that everyone
Could see him,
Sitting there.
On the carpet
In his home.
So they could see
How much he cared
For the people in his life.

But he knew,
As he thought those words,
That many of the people
That he knew,
Would see him
Sitting on the carpet
In his room.

And would conclude
That something was very wrong
With him.
Just like they had
So many times before.

He’d lost count
Of the times
The people he cared for
Had told him
How wrong he was.
That he needed to speak
To a doctor.

That he was broken.
And needed to be fixed.

He asked God,
As he sat there that night,
Why it was
That people tried so very hard
To have him remade.
To be just like them.
Why it was
That people could not accept
That he was different.

And that’s all
That was wrong
With him.
Is that he was different.

And it wasn’t his fault.
It was no one’s fault.
He’d been born different.
And he knew that.
He’d learned,
After so many years,
What the Autism Spectrum was.
And how he’d been born
With genetics
That blessed him with
An Autism Spectrum Disorder.

And that left him
Different.
From the people he knew.
So that they didn’t
Understand him.

And he didn’t
Understand them
Either.
And he knew
That his lack of understanding
Of other people
Left him so frustrated.
And confused.

That at times
He had no idea
What to do.
What to say.
How to behave.

And sometimes
All he could do
Was retreat.
Hide.
Somewhere all alone.
So that he
Could clear his head.
And have time to think.

And that had the benefit
Of getting him away
From the people that he knew
For a little while.
A day or two.
So that his friends,
And the people at the church
That he went to
Would not have to deal
With him.

Alone Among The Roses

He walked.
Through the rose garden
At the Botanical Garden.
He loved roses.
Every different rose
That he could see
In that garden.
And there were literally
Hundreds of them.

He walked through the roses
All alone.
He never brought anyone
To the Botanical Garden
With him.
This was someplace
He could come.
That was safe.
Someplace
Where he couldn’t
Upset or disturb
Anyone.

He came to the rose garden,
And the other gardens
That were here.
Just to walk.
Just to get away.
To get to a place
Where he could just be
What he was.
Where he could feel
What he felt.
Where he could say
What he said.
And not hurt anyone.

There, among the roses
He would sometimes stop.
And stand perfectly still.
And just stare
At a rose bloom
For a time.

Sometimes he would
Reach out.
And touch the leaves,
And thorns
On a rose bush.
Just to feel the texture
Of the leaves.
And the sharp tips
Of the thorns.
With the tips of his fingers.
For his fingers
Felt everything.

And in the roses.
All alone.
With no one there
To see.
No one there
For him to scare.
He could let his fingers
Feel.
He could cast off the rules
That he lived with
Every single day.
And just let his fingers
Feel.

And, oh,
How very much they felt.
Every texture.
Ever curve.
Every line.
Every surface.
Everything.

Walking through the gardens,
With all the flowers in them,
He would smile.
And sometimes he would laugh.
As he walked along the pathways
Through the gardens
Filled with flowers.
And with trees.

He was there
To be who he was.
To be what he was.
In a place
Where he was alone.
Where the people that he knew,
That he worked with every day,
That he went to church with.
The people of his life.
Would not have to see
What he was like.
Would not have to see
How much he lied to them.
Every day.
Would not have to see
Him as he really was.

So that everyone he knew
Would still believe
That he was like them.
That he understood
Their ways.
And was safe
To be around.

So that he would not upset,
Or disturb,
Or disrupt,
Any of the people
That knew him.

And there
Among the roses,
And the other gardens
He walked through
Alone.
All on his own.
He knew.

That everyone he knew
Would not have to see
How different he was
From them.
And they could all believe
That he fit in.
And belonged.
With them.

Why I Walk

I find myself asking
Again and again.
How?
How can I ever
Cope with this?
The anger that I feel.
Anger that’s been building up
For so very many years.

I try.
Oh, God, but I try.
I take long walks.
Time and time again.
Because it helps me cope
With all the anger
Trapped
Inside of me.

God,
I’ve walked until blisters formed
On my toes and heels.
And kept on walking.
Until they popped.
And still I kept walking.
Even though it hurt.
Because I knew.
I knew what would happen
If I stopped.

I’ve walked
Until those blisters
That had popped.
Started to bleed.
And then I just kept going.
And going.
And going.
Until my toes ached.
And my heels ached.
And it was hard.
Very, very hard.
Just to take another step.

And still I kept on walking.

I lost count
Months ago.
Of the times that I got home
With blood.
My blood.
Staining my socks.
And the inside of my shoes.

Blood from my heels.
Blood from my toes.

And the next day,
I would put tape on.
To cover up the blisters.
And the cuts.
To protect them
As best I could.
And I would walk again.
Day after day.

Why, you ask.
Why did I hurt myself that way.
How could I do that
To myself.

Because of them.
Because of the simple truth.
That I could not tell them
What I felt.
That I could not show them
How I felt.
That I could not let them know
How much the things they did
Had injured me.
How much what they did
In the year gone by
Brought such pain
Into my life.

I walked in part
Because I knew
I had to let my anger out.
Somehow.
Someway.
I could not keep it
Bottled up
Inside of me.
I had to find a way
To let it out.

I could have written words
About how I felt.
I did that once.
On December 4th.
Of 2010.
And those words
Were used against me.
Time and time again.

I did that same thing
One last time.
One morning in May.
When I said exactly how I felt.
When I told them
What they’d done to me.
How they’d treated me.
That they’d ripped themselves
From my life.
That they were gone.

They reacted.
Did they ever.
And I know
That I will never
Hear from any one of them
Again.

Because the words I wrote.
The anger that I felt.
That I let show
On that day.
Was used against me
Once again.
As one more reason
Justifying
The actions that they took.

That’s why I walked.
Until my toes and heels
Bled.
Because I knew
That every word I wrote.
Every words I said.
Every thing I did.
Was one more reason
They could use
To justify the way
They treated me.

To this day
They have no wish
To ever understand.
What happened to me.
A year ago.
They don’t know.
And they don’t care.
And they don’t want to know.

If they did.
They’d ask.

And I know
It was them
That did all this.
I was told.

I spoke to my former boss.
And asked if the silence
Would ever be lifted.
And told him
So he’d know
That the silence
Had injured me so.

That was when he informed me
That the silence was something
That they had all requested.
The people that I once worked with
Demanded the silence.
Wanted me to go away
And leave them alone.

That’s why I took the walks
I took.
Walking until there was blood
From my heels
And toes.

They have never once
Explained to me
Any action that they took.

And I know
They never will.

I know that they will sit there.
In their safe little world.
With their hearts
Colder than any ice has ever been.
Harder than any stone
Man has ever know.

Worlds that they have built.
So very carefully.
So that they could control
Every detail of their lives.
So that every day
Was exactly the same.
Safe.
And predictable.
With no surprises.
Ever.
Where nothing ever changes.
Not in any way.
Where all risk is removed.
All chance of pain
Has been erased.

Because they can’t handle that.
Pain hurts,
Damn-it.
And their solution
To that hurt
Has been to destroy
Their hearts and souls.
So that they are dead inside.

And the only thing that matters
In their lives.
Is that they have control.
That they do your job.
So they can get paid.
Every other week.
No matter what they feel.
No matter what their hearts
Tell them.

For they lost touch
With their hearts
Many years ago.
Their hearts are frozen.
Hard as stone.

And they don’t feel
A single thing.
That they don’t want
In their perfect world.
Where they have
Perfect control
Of everything that happens.

Where everything
Is how they wish for it to be.
And they can wear that smile
That they put on
Every morning
When they wake up.
Knowing that in the world they’ve made
If anything happens
They can’t control.

They’ll just throw it away.

And then continue pretending
That everything’s OK.
Inside the little walls
Of the perfect world they’ve made.

Now you know
Why I take the walks
That I take.
Even though
They sometimes cause me pain.

Because I refuse
To ever live
In such an artificial world
Ever again.

And the anger
That I feel
Burning  in my heart and soul
At the way that they’ve behaved.
And the way they treated me.

I have to get that out.
Any way I can.

I pray to God above,
That he can cure
The wounds that they
Have left me with.
For I know
I can’t.

And I know
That I will keep on walking
As often as I can.
Even if it means
I come home sometimes
With blood stains
On my socks
And in my shoes.

For that’s the only way I have
Of expressing the anger
That I feel
For the way
That they have treated
Me.

Memories : Silent Movie

I remember June 16th, 1976.
The day that Silent Movie
By Mel Brooks
Was released.

I wanted to see that movie
Very much.
And I had a group of friends
That wanted to watch it too.
So, we got together,
And I drove the station wagon
(Back then,
there was no such thing
As a mini-van)
And we all went
To the movie.

Altogether
There were 5 of us.
That went to the movie.
And we stood in line
For quite some time.
It was opening day.

We got into the theater
And found a set of seats
That let us sit together
As a group.
Spread across a row.

When the lights went out,
Movie previews came on.
And people laughed.
And talked.
And made lots of noise.

And then the screen went blank.
It was so dark
You almost couldn’t see
Who was sitting next to you.

These tiny dots appeared
On the middle of the screen.
And every sound was gone.
No one made a sound at all.
I’m not sure
Anyone was breathing.

You could have heard a pin drop.
It was that quiet
In there.

Those dots
In the middle of the screen
Began to grow.
Until they became
Towering letters
In the middle of the screen.

“Silent Movie”
They declared.
In total silence.
Not even any music.

And then.
In all the silence.
A single human voice
Was heard.
And it said
These words.

“Oh, goodie!
It’s movie time!”

Oh, my.
You should have heard the laughter
That broke out right then.
No one in the place
Laughed any harder that night
While the movie was showing
Than they did right then.

People on the row in front of me
Were poking each other
With their elbows,
“Did you hear what he said?
It’s movie time!”
As they laughed so hard
The couldn’t breathe.

The four friends I’d come with
All patted me
On my shoulders.
As they laughed So hard
They couldn’t talk.

Finally,
One of them said,
“That’s one of the best ones
I’ve ever heard,
Mark.”

That’s right.
I’m the person
That said those words
That night.
In that movie theatre.

And I sat there
In my chair.
Trying to understand
What I’d said
That was so hilarious.

I will say
That I laughed
Right along with everyone.
Even though I didn’t really know
What was so funny.

Now,
35 years later,
I understand completely.
It was just one of those times
When I behaved like me
With my ASD.

And did something
That made perfect sense to me.
That no one in the theatre
Would have dared to do.
Even if they’d thought of it.

See,
I don’t detect those rules
Of proper behavior
In a social environment.
So, I just said
What popped into my head.
And provided everyone
The best joke of the night.

This is just the kind of thing
That I’ve done
All my life.
And even though
I’ve never understood
Why people laughed so hard.
That’s always been OK.

Even with my ASD
I have always known
Laughter is a good thing.

Donchaknow.

An Old Zen Saying

There is an old Zen saying,
“Leap and the net will appear,”
That I find defines
Both faith,
And fear.

For to me the saying says
If I have the faith
In myself.
In who I am.
And what I believe.

Then I will do the things
I know to do,
And need to do,
In the life
That’s been granted me.

But if my faith is weak,
If I do not believe
In who I am,
And the things
That I believe.

Then I will be paralyzed
By fear.
Stuck in place.
And stuck in time.
No longer growing.
No longer changing.

And when a life stops
Growing,
Changing,
And remains the same
Day after day.
Then that life
Is all but over
Isn’t it?

This Zen saying
Also says to me
That it’s OK to be afraid.
That fear is a normal thing.

It’s like a zip line tour.
When you can’t see
Where the line ends.
It just passes
Through the trees.
And ends somewhere.
When you look down
From the platform
You are standing on.
Way up in the air.
Looking at the ground
Way the heck down there.

You know
That the zip line
Just won’t break.
That it’s rated to carry
20 times your weight.

You know
That the gear you’re wearing
Won’t break either.
That it will keep you attached
To the zip line.
That the gear,
Just like the line,
Can carry someone
20 times your weight.

But still,
You stand there.
On that platform
In the air.
Not knowing where the line
Will take you.
Afraid of having your feet
Hanging in space
100 feet or more
Above the ground.

You know
That if you were to fall.
It would just be the end
Of you.

That’s how fear works.
And it’s certainly OK
To be afraid
Of hanging from
A heavy gage steel cable
100 feet or more
Above the ground.
Especially
When you have no idea
Where that cable
Will take you.

You have a choice
As you stand there
On that platform
In the air.
You can pick up your feet,
And ride that zip line
To its end.
Or you can listen
To the fears you have.
And climb down to the ground.
And just go home.

Even though you know
That all you have to do
Standing there on that platform,
Is trust in what you know.
Instead of what you feel.

For like that old Zen saying says,
“Leap and the net will appear”

As I sit here on my sofa,
Writing down these words.
I can’t help but think
That I’m at such a place
In the life
That’s been given me.

A place where I simply have to take
That leap of faith.
And that everything will be OK
If I just don’t let
The fears I have
Tell me what to do.

Dreams : Kayla

I had another dream today
To another song I know.
A song by Sirenia,
Named “My Mind’s Eye”.

In this dream
There was a woman
Named Kayla.

Kayla knew she wasn’t beautiful.
She could see that
In the mirror.
And she knew it
From the way
That everyone treated her.
Especially the men.

She saw how they treated
Pretty women.
The way they just went stupid
Around them.
The way that pretty women
Could ask them to do anything
And men would not argue.
They would just nod their heads,
And do whatever the pretty women
Asked of them.

Men didn’t seem to listen to her
At all.
So she knew
She wasn’t pretty.
She wasn’t beautiful.

She had never married.
No one had ever loved her
That she knew.
All the other women
That she knew,
And worked with too,
Had gotten married.
And had children.
Families to care for.
Families that would care
For them.

Kayla was all alone.
She couldn’t even remember
The last real date
She had been on.

All she had
Was the work she did.
Her job.
Which lately
She hated.

At work,
It seemed to her,
That her suggestions
Were ignored.
That when she talked at all,
No one heard a word
She said.

She had no idea
Why they still insisted
That she show up at meetings
Every week.
Because even on the weeks
That she had something to say
In the meetings that they held.
No one listened.
Instead,
Everyone just carried on
As if she had never spoken.

She felt left out
All of the time.
For she always had her lunch
All by herself.

She was never invited
To lunch with anyone.
Everyone else
Broke up into groups.
Like little clubs.
And they went to lunch
At different places,
On different days.

Even when there were
Big lunch events,
That everyone was expected
To attend.
Like when someone
Was retiring from work.
Or moving to another job
Somewhere.
She would go.
She would attend.
And no one there
Would ever speak
To her.

Kayla looked in the mirror
Every night.
Before she went to bed.
And found she had
To look away.
That if she looked too long,
She’d cry.

She’s lost count of the times
She’d sat down
In the floor
Of the kitchen
In her town house.
And leaned against
The cabinets.
Her knees pulled up,
Almost to her chin.
In the dark.
In the middle of the night.
Alone.

She’s stopped crying
Years ago.
All her tears
Were long gone.

Every night,
When Kayla went to bed,
She had nightmares
All about the life
She lead.

She could hear the voices
In her dreams,
Telling her
How worthless
That she was.
How no one cared for her.

And I heard the words
Of My Mind’s Eye,
Because I knew
What she was feeling
Deep inside.

“If you were here
I’d whisper sweet nothings in your ear
And appeal to all your fears
If you were mine, if you were only mine
I’d bring you so much further down
And twist your mind until the end of time”

It was the whisper
That depression instills
In your heart and soul.
How it whispers in your ears
Such awful things.
About how no one
Cares for you.
How everyone you know
Just wishes
You were gone.

How that voice
Speaks to all your fears.
Bringing them to life.
So that you can see them
Everywhere you look.
Every day of life.

Kayla never slept that well
At night.
She would wake up
Hours before the dawn.
Wondering how long
She could go on.

Somewhere along the way
She lost all her faith
In herself.
And she began to feel
Like everyone behaved.
As if anything she thought,
Or said,
Of felt.

Was meaningless.
No one cared anyway.
And if no one else cared
Why should she?
How could she?
When it was so obvious
That she had no value
To anyone.

And I heard the voice
Of depression
As it sang these words
From that song.

“If you are down
I will come to chain you to the ground
And penetrate your mind
If you are lost, if only you are lost
I’ll be there to break you trust
And ravage all your lust for life, my love”

Kayla reached a point
One day.
Where her head ached
Every time she parked her car
At work.
And her pain pills
No longer worked.
No longer dulled the ache
She felt.

That headache made it
So very hard for her
To stay at work.
And she would go home
Every now and then
At lunch.
To escape the pain
That she was in.

As time went on
It became harder for her
To get out of bed each day
And even go to work.
And much to her dismay
She soon realized
She’d used up all
Her sick time.
And her vacation time
Too.

And was having to take
Time off
Without pay.

Kayla didn’t understand at all
What was wrong with her.
She only knew
That everyone at work
Noticed every mistake she made.
And never noticed at all
How well she did her job.

It was to her as if
They ignored her every day,
As long as she sat at her desk.
And did her job.
But if she had to get up
And take a short break
To walk down the hall,
To keep her hands
From shaking.
Everyone there noticed.

And the voice of depression
Sang more words
From that Sirenia song.

“You will never realize
What darkness lies inside my mind”

One day,
They called Kayla
Into the boss’s office.
Where they spoke with her.
And then they fired her.
They told her she’d become
A problem in the workplace.
And was disturbing
Everyone.

They told her
That her work
Was not as good
As it once was.

Kayla wound up
In the hospital.
In the psychiatric ward.
Where she was treated
For depression.

The life she’d had
Was gone.
Her illness had destroyed
Everything she was.
Everything she’d worked for
Was gone.

And she was totally alone.
Every one that she had known
Had abandoned her.
She had no one at all
To talk with.
Except for the voices
That were always there
Inside her head.

She lost her friends.
She lost her job.
She lost her home.
She lost her car.
She lost her savings.
She lost it all.

And Kayla never understood
What had happened.
What had gone wrong.
Nothing made any sense to her
Any more.
No sense at all.

And I heard the words
Of the Sirenia song,
As the voice of depression
Carried on.

“You will never realize
What darkness lies inside my mind”

I would tell you
How her story ends.
But the dream stopped
At this point.

But I have to wonder
If you know
Anyone that’s like
The Kayla in my dream.

I have seen first hand
What depression does
To a person’s heart
And soul.
And how it strips away
Everything you have.
Everything you spent your life
Working for.

I know this
For the same thing happened
To me
Just a year ago.
When I lost
Every friend I had.
Everyone I knew.
And I lost my job too.

To the depression
That I didn’t even know
I had.

And I can’t help but wonder
Why people abandon
Someone that’s so hurt.
It’s as if they’re saying,
“I don’t want to get involved.
I can’t take it any more.
That person’s got to go away.
It’s hurting me
To see them
Every day.
Make them go away.
So that my world
Can be OK
Again.”

And the victim of depression
Is left on their own.
And no one ever knows
Or understands
The darkness they live through.
No one ever knows
Or understands
The way that their hearts ache.
Or the tears
That their souls cry.

And every time
I stop and think
About depression for a while.
I can’t help but hear the words
Of that song once again.

“If you were here
I’d whisper sweet nothings in your ear
And appeal to all your fears
If you were mine, if you were only mine
I’d bring you so much further down
And twist your mind until the end of time

You will never realize
What darkness lies inside my mind”