Forgiveness Starts With Me
A long-time friend recently left me gaping fishlike when she informed me she was angry with me. As shocking as it seems I am not for everyone and my humor is easily misconstrued, dark, yes, malicious, no. Hurting people on purpose is not how I roll.
If injured, and I sure felt like it, I did what any normal red-blooded victim entrenched in victimhood would do; I marshaled my forces by retelling the tale. Lucky for me I am related to a man who possesses more sense than I. When informed of my woebegone plight, his response stunned me. “What a gift!”
“Whoa, a gift?” I couldn’t help looking at him like he spoke in tongues, nor could I refrain from feeling a degree of disappointment. He wasn’t going to help me shore up my wronged spin. My guilt was never in question, though I was ignorant of the charge. With an indignant splutter, I asked, “Un-forgiveness a gift, what are you talking about?”
“Who haven’t you forgiven?”
The question stopped my moral outrage, cold. “Uh me, for about anything you can name,” I simpered after some concentrated effort.
Before I could launch into the miserable litany of all my un-forgiven transgressions, smarty-pants piped up, “Maybe you ought to start there.” He allowed me not a second of narcissistic hand wringing.
After more time than I care to confess the fog lifted and I understood the wisdom in his words. God, The Universe, Cosmic Muffin, or, my Higher Self handed me an opportunity to heal a lifetime of hurt. My friend reflecting back to me my unforgiving nature did me a favor by hanging on to her pain. O-U-C-H!! The story of now I am the wronged one made me want to gather a battalion together to bolster my wounded ego, only preventing me from seeing the self-destruction in holding a grudge. Hanging on to anger is like throwing poison down your own well and hoping the S.O.B. who wronged you comes by for a drink. Newsflash: it ain’t going to happen! Payoffs are scarce in the animosity game, so you might as well let all the ill will go.
My lifelong tendency toward nursing victimhood feels like a huge sacrifice when I consider leaving it behind. My first thought is I will lose a large piece of me. Habits are hard to break, self-destructive bad ones harder still. Perhaps the singularity of this foible is mine alone, the nurturing of resentments. One thing is for sure. I need this reminder. Unresolved conflicts grow deep ruts with millennia of use. A To find a new way of operating in the world takes courage and kindness to yourself. This, I know because the last month I crawled up and over walls built from and on old wrongs and long ago hurts. The work entailed looking at my default: it’s all my fault, no matter what it is; then assess my true responsibility. Where necessary I forgave the poor sot I blamed but mostly I forgave myself.
In undoing the victim story, I got a reward. A few months ago, the family went to New York together. With the aid of my new skill, I let the world spin unaided. My feelings, as I suppose with most people, take a hit when reality trumps dreams. I had great expectations for this trip. Visions of familial bliss captured my imagination as we strolled arm in arm down Broadway meeting every deadline with perfect timing. Also dancing around in my cranium were pictures of our dining on sumptuous meals, and residing in beautiful accommodations.
Not one thing, I conjured in my dreams happened in any way close to how I envision it. Historically, a tissy befitting the Hellenic Gods would have rained down creating indignations across the generations. So far from my dream, the entire weekend would have gone up in a noxious cloud of infamy. There isn’t a dream, hope or vision worth those kinds of hurts.
Thank you, friend, for not forgiving me, for showing me my work was to get over myself. Though I have a long road ahead, I endeavor to let a little of my blame game go every day, thanks to you. Hubs helps with daily reminders that forgiveness is the key, such a helpmate.
Self-forgiveness is a powerful tonic one I need to practice more.