Monday, August 13, 2012

A Tale of Serious Woe

Dear Eve,

I used to be in a group of friends that had really low morals, for lack of a better description.  I had a great time, met my wife there, and since then we've grown apart from just about everyone.  We stay in touch with just a few on an acquaintance basis and that's cool with me.  They were a really smart, interesting crowd.

The problem is that one of these people, one of the most loved I should say is a very bad person.  Or I should say did a very bad thing to someone one time in the far past and I know about it.  It makes me furious when I hear people say how great this person is and hear them say I love you and tell them they're the greatest.  I want to tell everyone what this person did and have them shunned from society.  The problem is, it's a secret.  The "victim" doesn't know I know.  I don't even know who else might know.

I feel like I'm going insane every time I hear that asshole's name.  What can I do to make this right?

Dear Nice Man,

You seem nice, anyway.  To keep your friend's secret (can I call them a friend?) and go crazy over it for years is an amazing feat and a kindness that most people could not offer.  I'll thank you on their behalf.

Now what to do, what to do?  Of course, exploding the information all over the place would be terribly messy and hurtful to the person that you're protecting.  You also don't know who knows.  Maybe everyone already knows, has processed it and moved on.  You said it was a one-time thing.  Sometimes people make really bad mistakes and go on to be forgiven.  The victim, as well, might have moved on, making peace with the person, or just within themselves.  With this in mind, sharing this information with anyone for revenge is simply not an option.  You've been such a gentleman so far, don't screw it up now.

You can only make this right within yourself.  Which sucks.  There is going to be no glorious release of pent-up rage.  There will be no public metaphorical flogging or literal shunning.  This person will not be punished in front of your eyes.  Accept this, my darling, and move on probably with the help of a professional, or even your wife if she's a good listener and can keep a dangerous secret.  Let it all out.  Every injustice you've heard or witnessed, your worries and fears about both the victim and the abuser, your anger toward your own impotence.  Expunge it all, then you will have a foundation to start to forgive yourself because that is really where your anger lies.  Of course, you want justice, but that white-hot rage is really toward yourself for not protecting, stopping, doing something to make it not so.  This isn't logical, but it's true. You didn't say you witnessed the act, so you couldn't have physically stopped it, but people have a way of what-iffing their way to responsibility when someone they love is hurt:  What if I didn't go out that night?  What if I listened to them when they said they were scared?  What if I never introduced them?  I had a feeling, why didn't I do something?, etc.  We love to hurt ourselves with what-if's.  The fact is that it happened because the bad person did it.  Not you.  They chose their actions and you couldn't have stopped it because you weren't there.  Nothing else matters.  You had no physical way of knowing what was happening or keeping it from happening.  That's a fact.  Let go of your self-imposed responsibility; give yourself the gift of freedom and get it through therapy if you need to.

I don't have anything funny to say about this.  It breaks my heart.

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