Monday, September 30, 2013

The power of forgiveness

Watching my family cry was really difficult.  Saying goodbye was even worse. Knowing I'd never see her again was almost unbearable, but when my mom was dying, I had to do the hardest thing I had ever done. I had to forgive her.

My relationship with my mom was always turbulent, but my memories of her are very fond. I don't remember a lot of my childhood, one that my dad says is probably worth forgetting anyway. I know I had a privileged life as a kid, that was sprinkled with verbal and emotional abuse that I've long since forgotten. It wasn't much different than the kid next door, but we all grow up and learn that we have to face our own pasts to have a future, no matter the good we've lost or the bad we've held onto.

My mom never told me she was sorry. She never apologized for any pain or sadness she had caused. But holding her hand on that day she told me that , "Everything is going to be alright, but I'm not going to make it,"...It just really didn't matter. How much of my 15 years had I wasted being bitter? How many great moments had I missed with my mom because it was just easier to be angry than move on? I still cringe at that thought, but the truth hard as it was to forgive my mom, it was even more difficult to forgive myself.

You do and say a lot of mean things when you can't forgive. People don't drive you crazy; bitterness does. I was so sorry for all the heartless words that left my mouth, the hate I hissed, and the nearly cruel things I had done towards my mother because I had felt so slighted, so hurt. I don't really remember any of those things now. Mostly I just remember the great times I shared with my mom, the way she pushed her glasses to the tip of her nose to balance her checkbook, and how she'd dance around the kitchen to embarrass my little sister. I don't remember the all-out fights, but I do remember how she'd squeeze me tight afterwards and say, "You're my sweetheart."

I really forgave her. I really forgave myself. Maybe I used my forgiveness to block out all that bad  alone...maybe it was a gift, but either way I've truly seen the power of forgiveness. It was my general inability to forgive myself for other parts of my life that left me fragile, furious, and fat for so many years. Bitterness can really guide your life if you let it. It's a conscious decision to be miserable that I stopped making when I decided to get fit and start living a full life. I started the long and winding journey to forgiving myself that ultimately resulted in a much happier, much healthier me.

But I'm human. I'm far from perfect, and I've learned that I'll need to forgive myself for a lot of things in the years to come. I stopped forgiving myself for slip-ups and mistakes, and like clockwork I stopped forgiving the people around me for the ways that they had wronged me. It's lead to a couple really depressing months, a general feeling of being lost, a lack of motivation, a desire to eat...EVERYTHING, and a lot of built up bitterness.

I'm so bitter toward some people in my life right now, that I can taste the anger on my tongue. These are people I love. These are people, who like me, are doing the best they can. Honestly, some people's best is just pretty shitty. You have to love them, forgive them, and wait for them to come to their own life realizations or you have to let them go. Forgiving and forgetting is hard, but it's worth it. Because the only person you're destroying by withholding forgiveness, is yourself.

Forgiving someone for being a complete jackass isn't weak. Forgiveness is the greatest gift you can give someone, and it's an even greater gift you give yourself. It isn't an invitation for them to continue the same behavior, nor is it a guarantee that you'll never have to forgive again. Forgiveness is just a chance to make some wrongs right. It's a chance to share more good times than bad with the people you love. Or it's a chance to forget and move on from the people you don't love.

I'm going to have to forgive myself for a lot that has happened the past couple months if I want to stay on track and run a marathon in February. I'm going to have to forgive myself if I'm going to forgive these other people in my life who just can't seem to get it right these days. I love them though and I have faith that this phase of life will pass. They'll get it right, sooner rather than later.  One day I'll need their forgiveness, and I'll hope they'll decide the same thing that I have; They're worthy of my forgiveness and so am I.