Archives for posts with tag: words words words

Eventually, there comes a time when “forgiveness” comes up in many discussions of past pain or trauma (even very recent pain and trauma, honestly). Sometimes it comes in the form of someone seeking forgiveness, other times it comes in the form of someone wondering if providing forgiveness is overdue… or possible at all.

Forgiving someone for something they have done to hurt us isn’t about the person who hurt us, at all. That’s an important detail we sometimes forget (as do seekers of forgiveness). So… there’s that.

Forgiving someone for hurting me has been a peculiarly tender and personal thing to learn to do. It took me a while to figure it out; so often the conversation around forgiveness has seemed to center on the actions being forgiven, or the person, and it’s actually not at all about any of that. Forgiveness is letting go our attachment to pain – that deep down personal aggrieved attachment to feeling wounded, and carrying the anger associated with that hurt. Forgiving is the process of letting that go, and moving on, ourselves.

You know what forgiving someone is not? It’s not permission to repeat that hurtful behavior. It’s also not any sort of agreement to continue inviting that person into our life to continue a shared journey as though there had never been any hurt. In fact – forgiving someone has nothing at all to do with the nuts and bolts and practical details of whether they are a part of our life ever again at all. Forgiving someone else is a way of allowing ourselves to move forward from a painful moment.

I’ve long ago forgiven my first husband for the injuries and scars that still sometimes hold me back, or at least affect my day-to-day experience of health. I’ve forgiven my second long-term partner, now also an ex, for the prolonged slide into learned helplessness and chronic frustration that come from being gas-lighted and manipulated for years. I’ve forgiven childhood enemies for their transgressions, and adults more recently who’ve mistreated me in one way or another, over time. Learning to forgive became almost easy once I understood that to do so did not require me to also invite people back into my life to repeat those behaviors – there is no expectation or requirement to do so at all.ย I can forgive, and move on with my life, allowing them to move on with theirs.

Forgiveness is powerful. I highly recommend it as a practice. I also, and without conflict or contradiction, highly recommend maintaining – and enforcing – healthy boundaries. Respect your own boundaries, respect the boundaries of others, and yes, even when you’ve forgiven someone. Non-negotiable relationship deal-breakers remain non-negotiable, and also deal-breaking, even in the face of “forgiveness”. That’s totally correct and appropriate. That’s proper. Having forgiven my first husband for his violence in no way suggests or requires that I allow him back into my life. ๐Ÿ™‚ Forgiving him is for me, not for him.

When people seek forgiveness from us, the intention often seems to be to re-ingratiate themselves in our favor, as though “all is forgiven” also means “do over” and “no harm done”. That seeking suggests that the forgiveness is somehow about the person who has transgressed – but it isn’t, at all. I understand wanting to be forgiven; it sucks to ache with the pain of having hurt someone we care for. Too bad. It’s actually supposed to hurt if we hurt someone or treat them poorly; to remind us to do better, and to nudge us into making it right. Being forgiven doesn’t get someone off the hook for having to make amends, or somehow right our wrongs, and we’re mistaken if we assume that it does.

Being forgiven does not wind back the clock as though what was forgiven never happened. Relationships end on the backs of some pretty heinous deal-breaking words and actions – they should. Forgiving someone for those words or actions in no way suggests continuing the shitty relationship is going to be a thing, or that somehow the pain of what went down will just stop existing. We are each accountable for our actions. We face consequences – real consequences – for our choices, for our words, for our behavior, and whether or not we are forgiven by someone we’ve hurt, this is true.

I spent some time reflecting on forgiveness this weekend, having overheard a remark to the effect that “he’s not going to forgive me this time…” from a woman aware she chronically and repeatedly abuses her mate. I was astonished at the phrasing, which suggested she did not at all understand that the forgiving of her shitty behavior is not in any way related to whether or not the relationship itself would, or should, continue. It got me wondering about forgiveness, generally, and boundaries, and I found myself looking over past moments, myself, that I had forgiven. I felt pretty relieved that forgiveness has been so hard to learn, for me; the result has been that it did not become the kind of leverage that could be used to get me to “stay with a sinking ship” or “run back into a burning building”.

Here’s a thing that ranklesย me about that overheard remark; it also suggests that the speaker does not understand accepting forgiveness. Understanding that one has been forgiven requires a change in behavior – because accepting forgiveness implicitly acknowledges the wrongdoing. Once we know we have wronged someone, there is an obligation to change the behavior. No change? Well…um… why the fuck would a reasonable person expect that relationship to continue?? Furthermore, continued poor behavior, once forgiven, and having been acknowledged as poor (and undesirable) behavior – is willful. Yep. I said it and I mean it; if you know it’s unwelcome behavior, you’ve previously expressed regret for it, previously been forgiven for it, and you continue that behavior? You are deliberately, willfully, and yes on purpose,ย doing this hurtful thing. Seeking further forgiveness for the same shit is fairly sick, very manipulative, and in the face of chronic behavior, just a way of holding back that person you are hurting from seeking healthier relationships, and keeping them mired in bullshit with you. Particularly since the forgiveness isn’t about you. lol

For those faced with forgiving someone yet again for the same old same old, maybe also consider getting off that fucking hamster wheel at some point. Forgive, yes, but damn – respect your own boundaries, and be prepared to follow through on your non-negotiable deal-breakers. It’s okay to do that – and more to the point, it’s healthier to be free of abusive relationships than it is to attempt to “fix” them in the face of chronic mistreatment. Forgiveness is not tantamount to permission, or an agreement to ignore the damage done. ๐Ÿ˜‰

It’s a whole new day. It’s a grand one to forgive old pain! It’s also an excellent day to stand strong on your resolve to treat yourself well, and to respect your own boundaries. It’s a lovely day to begin again. ๐Ÿ™‚

I look back on the weekend and find myself smiling in spite of notes of discord and discontent in life’s song. Learning to recognize the difference between emotional climate and emotional weather has been useful. ๐Ÿ™‚

I spent what felt like a deliciously long Sunday on leisurely self-care in the form of housekeeping, marveling at the quality of my time, having not spent the morning in a fury heading up the highway. The drive itself was leisurely and pleasant. I arrived home feeling more balanced and content to begin with, and I guess it makes sense that the day was therefore more easily a pleasant one.

Why do I find myself, even now, surprised when things work as intended? When a practice intended to improve emotional resilience does do that, why would I be amazed? Is it only because I fought so hard to achieve that result using means that could not be expected achieve it at all, and grew to believe it was therefore not achievable? We screw with our own thinking far too much for our general well-being, don’t we? That’s what I find myself thinking about this morning.

My thoughts began with a meme posted by a new friend. Some random obvious-seeming list of statements that bites at me and worms into my consciousness expecting my agreement – and since there is a list, it’s likely I may agree with one or more of the listed statements, but… why would I swallow a pill of unknown origins handed to me by a relative stranger, based on casual assumptions about the effects, and no real data or confirmation of what, precisely, is in that pill, and the effects will be?? I wouldn’t do that. I know not to do that. We do that with our thinking all the fucking time, though, without pausing to consider just how important our ability to reason clearly really is, and just how fragile the sanctity of our cognition and will really are. Memes that “go viral” could be understood, seriously, as “viral”, indeed. A kind of sickness. A kind of contagion. Maybe mild and mostly harmless, but some of them really dig down deep and foster a sort of cultural reprogramming – and it would be wise to really consider them in context, more fully, and insist that the content we shove into our brains to be included in our actual thinking and behavior be, at a minimum, factually accurate. Just saying; don’t take poison. Even well-meaning, or humorous, poison has consequences.

We become what we practice. We “know” what we hear repeated often (even if it is not, in fact, true). Don’t just trust me on this; do your homework. Test your assumptions regularly. Try hard to prove yourself wrong, regularly – because you are wrong, more often than you know.

Don’t share poison. Don’t take poison. Practice cognitive good hygiene and intellectual self-care with the same rigor, attention to detail, and concern for your health and well-being that you do with your physical care (do better, though).

Don’t feed the trolls.

Don’t take the bait.

Do the verbs.

Begin again.

 

The first time I heard “YOLO”, I remember being rather struck by it in a positive way, which was before I was fully aware how often it is attached to a level of foolhardiness or stupidity so vast as to be quite noteworthy, and… on purpose. Wild. Kinda scary. Definitely not at all what I might mean were I to observe that “you only live once“. Not at all. I’d be saying “live your life – truly live it, awake, and aware, and willful, you may not get another shot at this, so do your best”.

I try, every day, to take my own best advice. Sometimes I even succeed.

I am enjoying a relaxed quiet evening, but it isn’t “everything”. I plan the weekend, making sure my needs over time are considered ahead of the needs of the moment (which often aren’t truly needs at all, but instead some distraction or alluring momentary fancy). I smile when I realize how excited I am to have two days in a row to sleep in, and no driving. I feel that twist, and become a pang of regret and loneliness; I won’t see my Traveling Partner this weekend. I do need some real down time, though, a chance to rest, and a chance to take care of this space I live in, and some time to finish moving into my studio, so that days I am inspired to paint are as effortless as days I am inspired to write. These are things I need. ๐Ÿ™‚

My mind wanders to that dark corner labeled “all the shit you forgot to take care of”, and instead of a panic attack, I find myself just sort of mentally “tidying up”, letting myself consider a large number of very assorted sorts of loose-end-y kinds of things I am prone to forgetting, just generally. I moved in July. Did I account for 100% of everything? Did I pack something, forget about it, and continue to overlook it because I don’t recall it even exists? So many distracting weekends away. How does a person rediscover what they have entirely forgotten, when that is a needful thing? That’s only sort of rhetorical; I do manage it, but I couldn’t explain in a million years quite how, and it’s very hit or miss. So… I guess I only sort of manage it. LOL Nice that such things don’t set off a storm of anxiety these days. The fear made it terribly difficult to catch things up, fix them, or complete them, or address whatever had or might go wrong with any skill. Now it generally just feels like another thing that needs doing, and once done, I’m done with it completely. I check off a few things, an address or two to update, things like that.

Strange night. I’m in a lot of pain, and the headache is just… extra. I’m managing a good mood in spite of that.ย  I’m still smiling from a few minutes of chat with my Traveling Partner. It’s a nice evening. It’s… a nice life. I frown, remembering how my every day moments “now” had been so thoroughly tainted by past events… when did that change? Will it stay like this? I feel the weight of my frown become stress in my shoulders and pause, breathe deeply, and sit more erect as I exhale. I’m okay right now. Right now isn’t something that needs troubleshooting. Right now I’m okay, and that’s enough. ๐Ÿ™‚

Tomorrow I’ll begin again. ๐Ÿ™‚

This right here? Just a placeholder. I didn’t really realize until I arrived home that it has been several days since I’ve written; I’ve been busy living full-time. ๐Ÿ™‚ I am well – and it’s a whole new year, filled with renewed promise, endless potential, and plentiful unknowns.

I’ll likely write more later today, sometime this evening. I need to sort out my thoughts. Process my experiences of the holidays, and the New Year’s celebration weekend. But… in case I just keel over at some point, exhausted, contented, and relaxed, and just don’t get around to putting my thoughts into words suitable for sharing, some expectation-setting for friends who read regularly but are not in touch. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’d hate to start your new year off with worrisome mysterious silences. โค

Say hello to 2018 – isn’t she lovely? ๐Ÿ˜€ A promising start to a whole new year. I’m ready to begin again – are you?

What if you died today and had to give feedback to yourself on your life, or defend, justify, or excuse it, after-the-fact? How would well would you rate yourself?

What if you could try again? Would you make any changes?

It’s an interesting thought exercise… I’m inclined to follow through on this one very soon, perhaps over some solo weekend during the holiday season. I did it once before, purely by chance, years ago. It mattered a great deal and gave me new perspective on my life. It’s a tough one, though, and can really mire one in sadness – it’s not for the timid, the faint of heart (nor the inauthentic). Taking it lightly is neither useful nor helpful. I do hope you find it either useful, or helpful, or at least a thought-provoking read over your coffee, or tea.

Ready? Let’s begin…

Imagine this; you’ve died. It doesn’t matter at all how, you are dead. No opportunity for one more please, thank you, I’m sorry, or I love you. You are done. Game over. Right now. Okay, so now let the death part of the scenario just go; you know nothing of it, and can’t. You’re dead. Nothing new to remember. Let’s look at your life instead – or more to the point, you look at it. That’s right. You had your chance. It’s done. Game over. You are only a collection of memories – your own, and those that others left behind have of you.

Look at your words, and actions, and the outcomes of your choices, andย  your baggage, – your free will brought you to these ends. What were your actual, no bullshit, real values – based on your actions, your decisions, what you chased in life, what mattered most to you in fact (what you said you valued has no meaning now, you’re dead and those were just words) – what were your real true actual values? (Don’t rush this, you’ve got plenty of time; you’re dead.)

“Why those?” is maybe not the correct next question, more to the point; is this what you wanted of your life, and your choices? Is this end result “enough”, or “what you wanted”? Are you okay with this being your legacy?

Are the things that were stressing you, truly, now that you’re dead and can look back unafraid and unashamed, were they truly stress-worthy? The times you snapped at loved ones over petty annoyances – worth it? Justifiable? (I mean, you can’t change it now, and all they have to look back on is who you actually were, and how you really treated them.) The stress about work, all that potentially wasted time grinding away on someone else’s agenda – was it worth it in the end? Was there ever “enough” money? Was being “right” worth the agita of forcing someone else to say that you were right – even if they only did so to shut you up? Was it ever finally the “right time” to do something about what you wanted most to do?

Ask the hard questions. Gnothi seauton. No bullshit. Turn and face yourself, naked and revealed. Look into the mirror. Who were you? Is that who you wanted to be? Who you expected to be? Who you thought you were?

Could you have done “better” or “more”? Who defined those qualities for you in life? Why wasn’t it your call, your definitions, your free will reaching out to enact your own choices? Why did you settle? Why were you “chasing” happiness… money… pretty lovers…a better high…a more perfect romance…? Whatever it was… the curtain has fallen. You’re done. Was it worth it? Are you content with the person you were? Will you be remembered? How will you be remembered? What is your legacy?

There may be other questions, too, that matter to you particularly, that hold you back right now, questions I can’t possible know – but you know them. So ask those too. Who were you? Is this truly what you want to leave behind when death overtakes you?

Take your time – I’ve got work to get to, can’t stay with you while you work through the details on this one, and really… It’s all about you. When you are finished with being finished with being you… what then? When you allow yourself to understand and fully accept that a time will come when indeed “you had your chance” and now it has passed you by… will you think you have wasted that precious limited life time? Will you feel a moment of regret for the shitty choices, poor values, lack of ethics, lack of conscience, cruelty, carelessness, regrettable loss of control, the hurt you have done to loved ones, and yes, even strangers? I sort of hope that you do, or that, if nothing else, you feel something that moves you to make some change or other that takes your journey somewhere new – somewhere you really want to go, but hadn’t yet gotten to. Because death doesn’t seem to hold a ton of potential to change who you were, you know?

…Well… At least in this instance… you get a do-over. You get to begin again. Are you ready for your second chance to be the person you most want to be?

Here it is. Right now. It begins right here, right now, and with each choice that follows this moment.

What will you do with it?