My Enemy’s Doppelganger: A Letter of Forgiveness

I saw your doppelganger today
I found it strange because I haven’t seen one in over a year
I used to see you everywhere – in the curved bill of a ball cap, in the ruddy
tones of another man’s beard, in the gap of a toothy smile
I remember feeling hostile towards any poor sap that would resemble only a sliver of your appearance
I once caught myself staring down a guy who could have been no more than your distant cousin
He was a pastor; a faithful family man
He didn’t deserve my ocular wrath
None of your doppelgangers did

Our past is a sobering oddity
I had only met you once or twice in person
But after your crimes against me, I couldn’t get the image of you out of my head
That may sound strange, as such vernacular is typically reserved for people who have fallen in love
But this was the first time I truly felt hate

You never forget your first time
In every way, it is the counterpoint to falling in love
Falling in love is euphoric, divine, with paradoxical overtones of misery
Falling in hate is debilitating, subhuman, with paradoxical overtones of exhilaration
Hate is the leaky battery that fuels your motivations but corrodes your soul
Hate makes you the voodoo doll

After a few months, I decided I would need to stop hating you
And start walking down the path of forgiveness
Please know that I’m no saint; I initially decided this for purely selfish reasons
Your mental image was like an overplayed Taylor Swift song
One of the ones I never liked but was still an earworm
I grew tired of mentally constructing elaborate plans for vengeance, knowing I’d never actualize them
I was sore from all the pushpins
Sick from all the poison I was ingesting, thinking it would somehow affect you
I wanted to take back the power you had over me
A power you never wanted and probably didn’t even know you had
It wasn’t exactly forgiveness
It was a variation that was declared with the simple refusal to hate
It was forgiveness expressed with the head, but not yet felt with the heart
But it was a beginning

My journey towards healing was long
But I was more fortunate that most others who have traveled that road
I had an army of loved ones who kept guard while I repaired the cracks in my soul’s foundation
And the more I healed, the less I saw of your doppelgangers
They would show up occasionally, but they brought along different emotions
When I saw them, I no longer felt anger
I felt a strange and subtle fear
But sometimes that’s all anger is, really
Anger is often fear with a few extra ingredients thrown in to give it a different form

I soon realized that the fear I was experiencing really had nothing to do with you
It was the fear of some metaphysical evil that was lurking around the corner
It was the vulnerability of thinking that the tide would inevitably come and flatten my sandcastles again
You’re not responsible for those feelings
There’s no doubt that what you did to me was wrong
But that does not make you the incarnation of evil

It’s now been a few years since that time when our lives disastrously converged
When I saw your doppelganger today, I felt something entirely new
The only word I can think that could accurately describe it is humanity
I didn’t see you as an object for my anger, nor as a two-dimensional poster child for maliciousness
You had flesh and blood
You had dreams, desires; you had virtues that I find lacking in my own life
You had your own share of sandcastles that have been leveled
You had your own fears and vulnerabilities
You looked…not all that different from me

And that’s when I realized what I was truly, ultimately feeling
It was complete and total forgiveness for you

In two cities of nearly a million souls, it is unlikely that serendipity will cause our paths to cross again
But I wonder what would happen should lightening ever strike twice
There’s no relationship to reconcile between us as our timelines diverged just as fast as they collided
We were but cameos of great consequence in each other’s movies
We’d probably just awkwardly nod at each other and pretend the
encounter never happened
And we’d go on to build more sandcastles with the people who have a lot more lines in our scripts
So you probably don’t even need my forgiveness
But it’s there, should you want it, without reservation
I forgive you
Truly
And I sincerely hope you’re doing well