Learning to Practice What I PreachPosted: October 20, 2011
Howdy ya’ll from the trenches I call my Litterbox. Pissy is always at war with some part of her life, but lately I’ve been waving a white flag.
First off, I’ve noticed as of late there seems to be a recurring theme of forgiveness and acceptance going on. I’d like to take credit for my part in this, but honestly I’m not that damn nice. Knowing this I have to assume that God has been busy working, working, working, and slaving away at trying to soften something in me to make me human again. Anyway, it appears to be working and I’m finding myself led into situations where this part of me is being tested. I thought I’d share.
I had a falling out many, many, months ago with a member of my family. Not just any member, but one who shared the entirety of my childhood with me, the vast part of my adult life, and whom next to Beth was the closest one to my heart. This falling out wasn’t one that was considered slight, nor easily forgotten, and appeared to be something that would render our relationship apart for good. To be honest, at the time and for many months after, I thought myself quite capable of happily hating her forever. This hatred nursed off my broken heart, my wounded pride, the venom from the Scorpio side of me, and the milk it consumed created a monster of immeasurable proportions. That would’ve been fine if it were not for one teensy-weensy problem: Pissy isn’t very good at ‘hating’ and has a conscience that is louder than her anger. You’re surprised, right? Well, it was just a matter of time before that burden became too heavy for me to carry.
As many of you that follow my blog well know, me and my husband lost our beloved Pitbull, Sully, last month to cancer. After weeks of my husband dragging his feet, when he finally made the decision to have the vet put him down I thought it best at the time not to remind him that the day he decided to do it was the anniversary of Beth’s suicide. He was already coping with too much, it took everything he had to make the decision, and I wanted to make sure that this time he followed through. So that day, with much heaviness weighing on me and a lot of alcohol getting me through, we watched our son die and had to bury him after. It was in the midst of this that I believe God spoke to me. Or perhaps….it was Beth.
I sat on the edge of my son’s blanket that lay on the grass that day, and hovered over his lifeless body overwhelmed by grief. The vet had left quickly after the final injection, and my husband made an emergency run to the local store to grab the bottle of whiskey I requested, so the two of us were alone. I thought of how much he loved life and this yard that his body would soon be a part of forever. I thought about Beth and how I believed she would take care of him for me. I also thought of the last post I’d written that had been for the anniversary of her death, which consisted of the eulogy I’d struggled to write for her funeral. I thought of it and the last paragraph written: “My hope now is that you take some of the magic that had been her life, and use it well. I know she would want to tell you that life is too short to carry grievances, or take anything or anyone for granted; that a time will come when you won’t be able to right all the wrongs or let that person know how much you love them, so do it today. She knew how difficult it was to forgive, but was wise enough to follow her heart and reaped the rewards that it gave her in the end. So honor her memory with me the way she would’ve wanted: Respect and love one another.” At that moment I was filled with shame and felt like such a hypocrite. I knew that she would be disappointed in my behavior. That I was unable to forgive, and couldn’t practice what I’d preached.
After we put Sully in the last bed we would ever make for him and said our goodbyes, I followed my husband into the house, picked up the phone, and carried it into the kitchen. I made a call and left a message that said not much more than “I love you”. I knew she would understand. She returned this call minutes later, and I could hear hesitation in her voice. I could’ve used that opportunity to lay more guilt, or for a number of self-serving reasons, but I didn’t, nor did I want to. I honestly didn’t want to hurt myself or her anymore.
I knew…I had to know because I knew her well…that any anger I had for what had happened was nothing compared to how she felt about it herself. She was not some heartless monster I tried desperately to convince myself she was. In all our 43 years together she had never really hurt me once till then. She was human. She followed her heart with actions that resulted in my being hurt. It wasn’t intentional. I just happened to get caught in the crossfire of emotions. And by calling her it wasn’t that I condoned what she did, but rather my way of saying I’ve fucked up myself on more than one occasion, have hurt people I loved without meaning to, and that I could forgive this, look past it, because that is what I would want others to do for me. I realized my love for her was stronger then hanging onto something that didn’t matter anymore, and I knew this because I’d missed her. And let me tell ya, even with my monstrous pride, it was easier to forgive then it had been to carry around the weight of hatred. I honestly don’t know who suffered more, me or her. Hating her took a terrible toll on me and was changing me. This change was not a positive one.
My marriage has suffered because of this change in me. And I’m not condoning the part my husband has played in it by no means, but I have to take responsibility for the part I played in how I’ve reacted and handled everything. I’ve swung on the pendulum back and forth from being bitter to depressed since my dui three years ago, and Beth’s suicide five months after. I’ve blamed everyone, including myself, for both. My emotions were twisted and my heart already beginning to harden by the time this particular falling out between me and her occurred. After, it touched everything in my life and turned me into a shrew. I doubt if my husband were able to walk on water and cast out demons it would’ve made little difference to me. I’d decided that the things I felt he’d done to me were unforgivable, and couldn’t loose not one act of unkindness from my memory. Add my unforgiveness of her to the mix and the extra baggage that bad memory held, and I had a lot of damn weight I was carrying around. Neither could’ve done anything at that point to fix what I felt they’d broke. I believe they knew that, so it’s no surprise that she left me alone with my anger and he withdrew more and more from me each day. I guess I can’t blame either of them. If I thought my efforts wouldn’t be rewarded no matter what I did, I wouldn’t go out of my way anymore either.
Something has happened since that call. And it’s not something that occurred overnight, but has slowly been working on me over the days and weeks since. The wall I’d erected is starting to fall piece by piece and allowing me to see the light on the other side of it. In accepting what happened, being willing to let go of it and move beyond it, I’ve started to let go of some of the baggage I’ve been hanging onto in my marriage as well. My eyes have been opened to things hidden by the blinders I’ve had on. Moments of tenderness I paid no attention to; small acts of kindness I overlooked. And a funny thing has begun to happen since I started paying attention, the Old Man is changing too. He stays home more, spends less time in the garage, kisses me before work and when he gets home, and has started working on my car so that I can get my license and have some freedom again. My first reaction and one I’ve been clinging to out of habit was “What exactly is he up to? He’s setting me up for something”. Then I realized in doing that I was possibly missing out on any gift he might genuinely be giving me, and had to shake myself to let that go too. And I’m not saying that he might not be. There’s always that possibility that his motives are self-serving. I’m just saying that by worrying about something that might not even happen, I might be missing out on something special that is.
All that is leading up to this: I got a unexpected visit a couple of days ago. One that jarred me at first, that I didn’t quite know how to react to. My daughter’s boyfriend (the father of her two children, someone I’ve despised that has not been welcome in my home for years, that I’ve never felt has been worthy of my beautiful, sensitive, generous, loving daughter, or for that matter my time) showed up at my home. To say I was speechless and completely caught off guard would be an understatement. I barely had a word from my mouth before he told me that my grandchildren wanted to see me. I looked at the tinted windows shielding the backseat of the car, and knew my precious babies were right beyond them. My precious babies I hadn’t seen in two years. I immediately rushed the car without nary a thought about how I felt about him, hugged my granddaughter first, reached out to kiss my grandson, and ushered them all into the house with me. Funny, but at that moment I wouldn’t have cared if he were the devil himself come calling.
I spent time with my grandchildren that day, and I guess in my deep appreciation for having the opportunity to see them, found a part of myself letting go of anger. Again…not that I’d condoned his actions or how I know he’d hurt my daughter, but the gesture he made by coming to my house alone and bringing my grandchildren definitely made an impact on me. My husband is not so forgiving and railed me about having let him in. Likewise, Pandora Patty feels the devil indeed was at my door, and was using my babies to sway me in an attempt to make things right with my daughter. Perhaps they are both right; his motives are not good and he’s up to something, and I should’ve sent him packing right when he stepped out of the car. The fact is that I didn’t, I was thrilled to see my grandchildren, appreciated the visit any way it came about, and he was very respectful while he was here.
I spoke with my daughter later. She had been at work, knew nothing of the visit till after it happened, and seemed as surprised as I was by it. She told me that she feels the reason is that after this last, bad episode the two of them had, they are really trying to put it behind them and move forward, and it was his way of making an effort. I have deep reservations as to whether that will hold water or not from past experience, but it’s her life, she chooses to stay with him, I can’t live her life for her, she’s more than willing to learn from her own mistakes, so as guarded as I am I’m not going to rock the boat if the water ain’t choppy. I suppose there also might be another reason that I’m not so quick to judge him and the situation, and that may be that I feel God is moving in my life and attempting to change me, and is allowing situations to present themselves to make me more aware of my strengths and weaknesses. Perhaps He’s even testing me to put my trust in Him, I don’t know. I just believe that sometimes there is more reason than coincidence in a situation, and I’m trying to allow myself to stay open to it. And crazier yet is the thought, what if….just what if…I’m not the only one God is working on.
I don’t know why I chose to share that with you, and I wonder how many of you even made it through this lengthy post till the end. I know…much yawning. I guess because many of you have become my family in a strange sort of way, and I feel more comfortable sharing these thoughts with you then I would with most of those that carry the same blood in their veins as mine. The saying is that you can pick your friends but not your family, and it’s true. As far as family, you’re kinda stuck with the hand you’re dealt with and hope to God it’s a decent one. Friends, on the other hand, you get to choose when fortunate encounters find there way into your life, touch your heart, and an ‘A-HA!’ feeling resonates in your soul. Names aren’t necessary. Those of you that have done that for me know who you are. Our journey has taken us many places together for a better part of a year now…and blogging years are akin to ‘dog’ ones in the time spent together daily…in my opinion anyway. I don’t have to see any of you or hear your voices to FEEL close to you. Anyway, I choose you, and think it was a damn good choice. Your words, experiences, have taught me to be a better person. I am always learning from you. I hope I’ve been able to offer the same to the table. I just wanted you to know that.
Okay, all sappiness aside…get back to blogging biotch’s!