aches and pains

Of late, I wake with achy joints—middle fingers, ball of my foot, small of my back. In dreams and while padding around the house, I clench my teeth. Is this a sign of fifty-six, or of resentments settling in my bones? If the latter, can I let them go and, if so, how?

I must be able to free deep-seated bitterness from a long history of hurt rendered by some who've claimed to love me. Can I shed my displeasure of what seems like game-playing and deceit? Can I forgive the pain of betrayal, abandonment, the strangeness of envy, the lack of respect, the failure to utter the simple words, I'm sorry that what I said hurt you. And what hand do I have in it? Michael, my best champion, claim's I've little. I'm less sure of that.

How does one go about forgetting wrongdoings, hurt feelings, odd and uncomfortable efforts to cloud the truth, malign, manipulate and fix me? I don't know. How do I go forward when trust has been broken repeatedly?

And when it comes to my son, how do I reconcile moments of adoration with those of such contempt? I wonder if releasing my other grievances—the gnawing, vexing discontent—I'll have more room to love him, less time and energy to magnify his defects. And what of mine?

Perhaps I should scrawl my complaints on paper—the ridicule, manipulation, dismissal, bullying, belittlement, one-upmanship—then wad it up and put a match to it. Maybe if I make the feelings tangible—graphite on a sheet of wood pulp—I can set it aflame and watch my indignations burn then float away as embers. Maybe then I'll be able to forgive myself, my son, the others, and from that forgiveness, melt away my aches.

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