Where the Heart is Afraid to Tread

by Fernando Perfas

Love padlocks | Photo by Petar Milošević via Wikimedia Commons

Some secrets have a way of enslaving us, haunting us in moments of solitude, leaving us with no peace of mind. They arouse guilt that can leave us with feelings of regrets and shame. They can evoke unpleasant memories that turn bright days into desolate nights. And yet, deep down is a gnawing feeling of ambivalence toward pain and happy memories. Eventually, they drive us into a state of denial or a wish to bury memories of the event on the one hand, and on another, to hang on to that brief memory of being free, of letting go, while stilling our heart and vowing never again to revisit those vexing moments.

There is no redemption. Or is there? How can we extricate ourselves from such lapses, from that glaring moment of human fallibility, so that we regain our sense of inner freedom and self-esteem? Forgive. Forgive ourselves and others. But how? The road to personal reconciliation and coming to terms with the reality of human foibles and the consequences of moments of weakness is neither simple nor easy.

When the act is an honest mistake, devoid of malice and bad intention, or even an act full of tenderness, the greater the pain, despair is acute, as opposed to cold-blooded acts. Indeed, the tyranny of guilt is great when one cares and inadvertently brings harm to a loved one.

“It may not be horrible as we have first conceived, for once we put things in perspective, we realize that all the curses we hurled upon ourselves are not fully justified. We come to understand that there are forces beyond our understanding that impel us to action, oblivious of consequences.”

Facing up to this kind of mistake is like taking a bitter pill to cure the illness. It requires unremitting self-analysis and taking accountability for the hurtful action. It means going where the mind and heart refuse to tread, suffering the ambivalence of our heart and the searing conflict borne out of our heart’s desire, and ignominy of conflicted memories. It may not be horrible as we have first conceived, for once we put things in perspective, we realize that all the curses we hurled upon ourselves are not fully justified. We come to understand that there are forces beyond our understanding that impel us to action, oblivious of consequences.

There was an inevitability at the moment that had been building up, like the course of destiny that arose in distant and dim past. The will rendered powerless by the momentum set to motion by the circumstances shaped by our past thoughts and human desires. The “here and now” is an echo of the past, begotten by forces beyond our present understanding. There is a history to everything, whose thread transcends time and space and often baffles our understanding. It is the tyranny of Karma, haunting us, leaving us in a state of a constant quandary: why, oh, why?

“Maybe our redemption lies in our capacity to love, no matter how inadequate and imperfect. For love mitigates and the greatest equalizer to all that is human and imperfect.”

We are free to judge our actions either harshly or gently for breaching the standards of behavior we have set for ourselves. I must say, don’t judge yourself harshly, especially if your heart is devoid of malice and your heart is incapable of evil acts, though you may suffer from guilt and shame for actions you poorly understand.

Maybe our redemption lies in our capacity to love, no matter how inadequate and imperfect. For love mitigates and the greatest equalizer to all that is human and imperfect.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR  Dr. Fernando B. Perfas is an addiction specialist who has written several books and articles on the subject. He currently provides training and consulting services to various government and non-government drug treatment agencies regarding drug treatment and prevention approaches. He can be reached at fbperfas@gmail.com.

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