Monthly Archives: April 2014

Why I Chose Forgiveness (and Why it was the Right Choice)

When we hold on to the hurt and anger of our past, we let it own us. We carry the weight of it on our sturdy shoulders and we allow it to hurt ourselves and no one else.

I don’t believe forgiveness just happens; I believe it’s a conscious process where we decide that the pain of holding onto our grievance is greater than the benefit of letting it go. We choose to release the self-imposed suffering that we are holding onto and decide that we value our happiness over the bitterness. 

We choose freedom.

When I was a girl, I wanted to be a lawyer. I grew up watching Perry Mason and I was mesmerized. Perry always worked hard, analyzing a situation, talking with people, putting the puzzle pieces together to build his case and then delivered it with such panache. It was so impressive and I wanted to do that.

I grew up with a passion for building my case. If there was something I wanted, I put a plan in place to make it happen. I was determined to go to college even though I had to fund it entirely on my own, and with every roadblock, I found a way through and made it happen. 

I also learned to build my case in arguments or troubled times in a relationship. It was always so important to me to be right, and to be sure that I was, I had to prove it. That’s what Perry would do. So I set about collecting all of the reasons why I was right and the other person was wrong. It has been only recently that I realized that I do this, and recognized that it doesn’t serve me.

Before my recent relationship ended, we had a rough few weeks. I was hurt, angry, scared and started doing what I do—I built my case of all the wrongs. I collected them and nursed them to determine if the sum was great enough to take action.

Then one night, I stepped back and took a look at what I was doing. I considered if it would help me get to where I wanted to be, and that made me step back to think about what I truly wanted. Through all the thinking it dawned on me: yes, I was angry, yes, I was hurt, yes I had every reason to feel that way, but did it really matter? I realized that I was in love with him and regardless of my “case,” each of the items on my list really didn’t matter.

So instead of focusing my energy on my case, I channeled my energy into being more clear about what I want, and how I was going to try to achieve it. Ultimately, I realized that I couldn’t get what I needed from the relationship and it ended shortly after.

“Forgiveness is giving up all hope of having had a better past.” Anne Lamott

Sometimes no amount of wanting something can make it happen, and while I’m sad about the outcome, I’m not disappointed by how I handled it. I learned a valuable lesson, that when I was clear about what I want and what I was willing to accept to get it, then it became much easier to handle the situation as a confident adult and not through the eyes of a child.

Enter the lesson of forgiveness.

We cannot control other people’s behavior, however, we can control our reaction and response to his/her behavior and actions. It’s not easy, but I realized that my being hurt and angry was giving my power away. I chose happiness, and by standing firm for what I wanted, I learned that the relationship couldn’t support my needs. 

Instead of railing, yelling and suffering, I decided to grieve, forgive and let go. I don’t accept how things were handled, but I do release all of the negative feelings that invaded my space to open myself to fill it with wonderful new feelings that I deserve. Now I can smile and think of the wonderful memories we shared while working to move forward.

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“Forgiveness is about pardoning behavior. It isn’t measured against what the violation was, or what the betrayal was. Forgiveness is a standalone choice. It shouldn’t be measured by what someone did. It also isn’t saying “I’m ok with it.” It’s not accepting it, it’s not agreeing with it. It’s not losing any power.. we think staying mad is powerful, but it’s consuming so much of our energy going to a dark place. Forgiveness is simply about saying that I don’t want anger to occupy any real estate in my body. I don’t want anger, or hate or hurt to live inside my temple. I love me too much for that.” ~Lisa Nichols

 

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Why I’m Glad My Heart Got Broken

When I was a kid, it seemed my mother’s mantra was, “You wont remember this on your wedding day.”

I never married, and yet I still don’t remember any of the events in my life that would cause her to say that. I do remember her saying it, though, quite often.

Loss is a part of life: we lose jobs, we lose friendships, we lose lovers, we lose cherished pets and we lose other connections that take a piece of us every time they go.

If we’re lucky, they leave an even bigger part of their heart within us.

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I recently ended a relationship, and I have decided to put my over-charged analytic mind to rest for now to focus on what is important. Instead of dissecting every part of our relationship trying to find answers that no one can give, I am going to just be.

I choose to forgive and to be grateful for the experience of all the wonderful gifts that I received when we were together. He showed me my capacity to love, my willingness, albeit awkwardly, to communicate and to share my feelings and thoughts, my ability to open my heart to someone else and the amazing pleasures of doing so. Along with the fear, opening my heart brought me great joy.

Offering my love to someone else expanded my heart. I’m grateful that I loved enough to have my heart broken.

Whenever I feel the pull of my vacillating emotions, I close my eyes and breathe.

At the end of the day, I don’t really need to understand why.

What I know is that I am loved, and that I am worthy of that love.

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What I Didn’t Say

I really enjoy writing—it’s a passion of mine: my creativity, my art and my release. Generally the topics I write about are inspired by some of the work I’ve done, and continue to do, in my life. Several people have been encouraging me to get deeper and to really delve into what I write about and I have been trying to do that. Sometimes I think I do a pretty good job. Other times I try and miss the mark, either because I’m wanting to post and not quite ready, or because a post topic hits a little too close to home and I clam up.

I feel I should go back to my last post to expand upon it. I chickened out, frankly, and left quite a lot unsaid.

What I didn’t say, is that this concept of changing relationships has been a really hard thing for me to manage in my life. It’s almost like the roller coaster of weight management. It feels so good when you’re losing, but gaining doesn’t feel so great and even maintaining is a frustration at times. It has almost been similar for me with relationships. Establishing a new relationship feels good. When it deepens it feels great, though can feel scary as well. When the relationship changes, or ends, it doesn’t feel good. A part of me often feels rejected even if the change has nothing to do with me. Then I seek solace with my friends Ben and Jerry, but that’s another post..

I have wanted to work on this, especially as I haven’t always handled it well. That’s an understatement, though I think, and I hope, I’ve gotten better with it. I have been working a lot on communication, both sharing how I am feeling and being open to the feelings of others when shared. It’s a learning process for sure, and while I’m proud of where I’m at now, I still have those “facepalm” moments where I want to bow my head and just smack my forehead with my palm.

I also really struggle when other people choose to not share their feelings and I have a tendency to take things personally. Growing up in an abusive home, I developed a strong antenna: I learned to sense the vibe in the house around me to know if I was safe. Any whiff of tension set my radar in a tizzy and I was on watch for what might come next. I look to interpret people’s actions as a way of understanding how they are feeling, and that’s often not a good indicator at all.

Fight or flight.

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11-20-09 © mikkelwilliam

What served so well to keep me safe as a child doesn’t serve me as well now, and often leads me to feel concern or panic. I assume what got my radar in a tizzy is either due to me, or going to impact me and my adrenaline kicks in. I have a tendency to take things personally, as I am interpreting actions as thoughts and feelings and reacting, instead of connecting with my adult self to think instead of feel.

Only now, twenty-five years after I left my house, am I able to ask the question, “What is going on here?” Sometimes, and it’s a real effort to do. I have to work through the panic that bubbles up in my chest, wrestle with it to reduce it to a level where I am capable of stepping outside of the fear and the trauma and be in the moment to handle the current situation as the confident adult that I am learning to be.

Sometimes.. and I’m still learning. I’m grateful to my friends and family for sharing this journey with me, and for helping me on my clunky baby steps through this process of learning and growth.

Maybe I should have titled this, “How to write something that makes you feel like you’re walking down Main St. in your panties.”