*Note: This post, though spurred by the death of Kobe Bryant, is not implying anything about the accusations against him. I have been working hard to process through some of what I have seen on social media, and this post reflects MY experiences in MY situation. I do not want to use someone's death as a platform for my feelings, and I certainly do not feel that it's my place to discuss what transpired in his life.*
How do we measure someone's legacy in life? How much are the "good" moments worth? How much are the "bad" moments worth? How many "good" things does someone have to do to wipe away the "bad" things they do? How do these ratios change when it's your own legacy you're speaking about?
Social media is a wild thing. Social media allows news to break in an instant. It allows you to follow your favorite celebrities. It allows you to share photos and experiences with family members across the country. It allows you to "investigate" potential dates before you meet them. It allows you to "research" what your best friend from high school is doing now. *Trigger* It also lets you see what your assaulter is up to these days. Mine, he's got a family. He has a beautiful daughter and a beautiful wife, and it appears, by all intents and purposes, that he is contributing positively to society.
For almost a decade, I harbored so much hatred in my heart. Why does he get to have a family? Why does he get to be successful? Why am I the one who had to change the course of my life because of the residual effects he had on me? Why does it appear that everything is going right for him when he planted so. much. pain. in my life? Those questions burned in my brain and heart for years. I wish I could tell you what changed. Maybe, it was having kids of my own. However, the pain doesn't burn as hot anymore, and it has allowed me to see the situation with some clarity I so desperately needed. I have to be honest; this might not sit well with some people. However, it's my truth, and I hope that telling it might reach someone who needs it:
I want my assaulter to be a good father and husband. I want him to positively impact the world. I want his daughter to adore him. I want his wife to be faithful. I want his career to be one that positively impacts the world. I want him to be fulfilled.
I want him to be happy.
Why do I want this? I wouldn't want my legacy to be based on decisions I made at the age of 18. I wouldn't want my legacy as a mother, a wife, a daughter, a friend, and a professional to be permanently tarnished by a lack of judgment, though severe, that occurred before the complete development of my frontal lobe.
That doesn't mean I've forgotten about what he's done to me. That doesn't mean that "it's no big deal." Heck, that doesn't even mean that it still doesn't bring me to tears some time. My ability to let him have a new legacy doesn't necessarily speak to his success. Rather, it speaks to my hard work and determination to heal enough to give grace. So by letting him have a legacy that isn't defined by his actions as a young adult, I am actually letting myself begin a new legacy of my own that isn't defined by his actions. He is somebody's father. He is somebody's co-worker. He is somebody's husband. He is somebody's son. Acknowledging him for who he is now doesn't negate what he did. It doesn't mean that my life is worth less. It means that I am able to separate his actions from his person and his ability to contribute to the world. It means that I have a hope that people can change their actions. I have a hope that we can give grace in all our journeys. I have a hope that he will raise his daughter in a way that makes her feel loved and respected. And through that hope, I find true healing.
*Note: Again, this is MY experience. I am aware that there are simply bad people in the world, and I am, by no means, implying that you have to feel the way that I do to have fully achieved healing or forgiveness.*