Friday, June 22, 2012

Practicing Forgiveness

“Forgiveness is not forgetting, it’s letting go of the hurt.” Mary McLeod Bethune

Tuesday morning, I heard a talk about forgiveness. The speaker shared some helpful ideas, and read the above quote. I sat there thinking, “I’m really not angry with anyone right now.” Then Carl came home from Sweden.

After a whirlwind long weekend in Europe, Carl was understandably tired. We disagreed about something, he got angry, I got angrier. So much for absence making the heart grow fonder.

Luckily, I knew enough to not continue the fight that night. I even (miraculously) controlled my urge to talk shit about him with my girlfriends. Somehow, I managed to do things that helped: I focused on work, I practiced yoga, I meditated, I carved out writing time. I did talk about it, but only with two friends who think highly of Carl, not the people who would get on my self-righteous express.

After some time and space to cool down, I realized my part of the problem: while Carl had been away, I had done too much. I had gone to the shore and back, I had hosted a birthday party for myself, a Father’s Day dinner, and prepared for Daniel’s birthday party. Also I had worked, done all the usual household stuff, and cared for a baby who cut four teeth and had a horrific rash. By the time Carl returned, I was a firecracker; he just lit the fuse.

It’s annoying to realize my part of things. If I blame everything on Carl, I can just feel sorry for myself, play that comfortable victim role. But that's not really what I really want. When I see my part, I have choices about my behavior. In this case, once I realized how exhausted I was and why, I let myself off the hook a little. I vowed to refill my internal well, by resting, eating well, nurturing myself. I forgave myself for falling into my old habit of overextending, and promised to do less next time I’m on my own with Daniel for a few days.

As for my husband, he, like all of us, is entitled to have a bad day. My job is to take care of myself well enough that other people’s bad moods slide over me. This actually works. If you haven’t tried it, I can’t recommend it highly enough.