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.


Kriston said...

Yes! One of the biggest lessons I learned when my kids were younger was what my limits are. We overdo it, and then we dislike the person we become as a result. It's not an easy lesson. Sometimes less really is more!

Jennifer R. Hubbard said...

Yes. This.

sulu-design said...

Well said (well written, I guess). It IS annoying to realize our role in problems. Realizing my part, accepting it, and doing something about it has been the biggest personal challenge I've tried to address in the recent past. I often let my emotions drive my reactions to issues, even when my emotions are out of whack (due to lack of sleep, due to issues unrelated to the matter at hand, etc.). When sticky situations arise, I'm really trying to see things from others' perspectives and to react to things based on facts instead of emotions, but it's really hard. I feel you, Julie.

I hope that you've taken some time to get yourself back in a better place. Take care.

Carol Fragale Brill said...

sometimes humility feels like a 4 letter word :)

Julie Owsik Ackerman said...

Thanks, ladies. Great comments. Funny my husband has yet to weigh in...I am feeling much better after some slow days on Lake Ontario. Hooray for summer!

Mark Knight said...

Taking on too much & blaming the other guy. Or gal. Yep. I've done that and my gal has done that - does that alla time!

My aim as a SAHD (Stay-At-Home-Dad*) is to be happy with my 4 girls - my wife being one of them girls. If we have too much crammed in one day, I ditch some of it. My aim at the end of the day - and this I try not to ditch - is to make sure the little girls are clean, happy and ready for a nice family meal when the bigger girl gets home. I greet her with a glass of wine, a meal and the girls greet her with squeals of "Mama." And if everything we wanted to get done didn't - well, like the song says you can't always get what you want, but if you try, sometimes you might get..? (Altogether)
... "what you need!"
It all comes down to being mindful for me; chill, accept what you made and what you got dumped with. And deal as best you can.

*SAHD sounds like 'sad' but it aint. I love it!