Lights In the Distance. . .
Walks’ Outdate – 26 Days and Counting
By Steven Maisenbacher
Expectations. We all have ‘em, like when you go to a restaurant and order food, you expect it to come out well prepared and to your expectations of delicious. Or when you see a big dog growling and barking, you expect it to be mean or a threat. Unless you’re Cesar Milan and wanna try to whisper to the nice doggie, you get the heck out of there to someplace where Cujo can’t get ya. (That would be me, I do not care at all for mean dogs.)
But that’s really not what this is about. This is about people and the things we hold on to or the false fronts we put up with each other. Just as everyone has likes and dislikes, we all have certain things we “expect” from others and ourselves as well. For instance I don’t expect people to forget that in my early and younger days I was a fairly dangerous and deceitful person, not worth a tinkers damn. I could not be trusted to anything except what I wanted for me, or what I felt was of gain to me, regardless of who I hurt or who I deceived or who I mistreated, either by deception or out and out theft. See, that was wrong. My behavior was horrible and totally unacceptable. Such behavior is wrong for anyone, but for me to have treated people like that became my burden. At this point, I’ve begged forgiveness as much as I can or will. I have forgiven myself for all the nasty things I did. I have been told I’m forgiven by most of the people in my life and so it’s time to just move on.
Now that I have paid my debt in full I don’t look to intrude my expectations upon anyone, and I certainly would not expect anyone to just “forget.” If you have heard from me that I am sorry and acted like you accepted my apology, then let it be that. Isn’t that what anyone would expect if they had made mistakes and then paid for them whatever the cost came to be? At this point haven’t you earned redemption, or if not redemption, then at least the chance to move freely around for the remainder of your life without having to “prove” yourself to anyone?
See, it’s like this, I have things to do and things to still make up for, but not to you or for you, but for me and to myself. Yes, that’s right – to and for myself! Even though I made a mess of things in the past – 20, 30, 40 years ago – it’s time to let that go, especially on the forgiveness part. See, I know the real changes in my own self. I know the many nights I laid in these prison cells and silently sobbed myself to sleep thinking of the cruddy things I had done in the past to those I love or claimed to love. I know how heartfelt my prayers were, begging the Creator to fix me or kill me in here, to show me how to not be a demanding, self-serving person, to show me how to care for people as people and to not lose myself to the harsh treatment of my keepers. I begged for the strength to not become the animal they pretend I am so that they can justify the sick and demented way they treat everyone in prison, like we are less than human, not men with feelings and beliefs and desires, and here’s the big one, regrets.
When I go home I do not for one second have great expectations on how I will be received by the people I have wronged in the past, nor do I feel that I am obligated to prove anything to anyone. Beyond that, I will continue to answer to the Creator first and second, to myself. Even the person whom I respect and admire and love more than any living human being I know, will have to just go with her trust in me. This person has already said it is not her place to judge or forgive; she never met that long-ago person and sees only the good in my heart. While I have no doubt about her unconditional love and concern for me, I also have no right to have the expectation of that love.
See, it’s like this: In my past 20 years of change for the better, I have learned many things, about myself and life and people and how it is to be a good person as opposed to a bad person. The change starts within and that’s where it ends – within yourself – and if others don’t see it then it’s because they don’t want to. There is no proving you have changed, you either have or you haven’t. There is no proving you forgive, you either do or you don’t, and there darn sure are no degrees or term limits on how long or what you will need to present to others to prove anything. You are either going to be worth life and respect, or you’re not.
People who live in glass houses should never forget that they, too, have made mistakes. Were they caught or did they try to repair the damage? Did they make any attempt in their lives to do better and truly forgive themselves and others? I guess what I’m trying to say here is, if you have found it in your heart to forgive me, then I beg one more boon of forgiveness from you. Forgive me if I don’t spend my time trying to prove to you that I have changed. I will be far too busy living what’s left of my life and doing the positive things I have planned, to meet your expectations or to put any on you…