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Forgiveness: Why and What’s Forgivable? I Want to Know.

Everyone is talking about forgiveness and self-love today as we enter a new year. I hate when people say, “I heard this on NPR,” but I did, in fact, hear it on NPR– a conversation about forgiveness this morning. Essentially, two of the guests agreed that we have to forgive, even is no apology is made or elicited, to stop the stress cycle and allow us to heal and progress. There was a reference to looking forward and living with “forwardness.” I did always like that quote about if you live in the rearview mirror, you’ll soon be going that way. Don’t ask me who said it, because it was actually a fortune cookie message I received and have since pasted to my refrigerator to remind myself to live in the present.

I often have to remind myself of this. In fact, I wear this ring. See the inscription? “Live in the Here and Now.” My niece got it for me. I am terrible at doing this.

So back to forgiveness… By forgiving, you’re embracing peace, love and joy. You are helping your body to de-stress and stop producing cortisol (this was the scientific reasoning for forgiveness). And, you’re giving your mind a break, a chance to rest.

I do think I’m forgiving, but like what is not forgivable, I wonder? I mean, I think murder would be one. I couldn’t get over that. I could probs forgive cheating and lying, if it came with some level of contrition. What else? Um…I’d forgive stealing and hurting my feelings occasionally (not all the time). I’d be super bummed if you lit my house on fire.

I can’t really think of other things right now. Currently, I have forgiven most everyone I know for any wrongs I perceived or experienced. It feels good. Sometimes, I look backwards and feel those pangs of hurt and resentment, because, well, I’m human. And I get angry. And then swallow that anger, and it just manifests itself in heinous ways, like anxiety. YAY!

Forgiveness gives you your power back. Don’t be a victim. Try to empathize with the offender. When someone is mean to my children, I tell them, “Well, maybe feel sorry for him/her, because they are obviously hurting and sad inside to treat you this way.”

“Hurt people hurt people.”
That’s a good quote.

How do you know if someone is hurt when you meet them though? How many chances do you give them?

That’s a whole other question. What do you think?

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Wishing On an M&M and Other Strange Rituals

I am very superstitious, a fine line away from obsessive compulsive, attributing meaning and immense value to objects and actions. I have always been this way. I would pull off the metal tabs on soda cans growing up, and if the tiny circle came off with the tab, it was “good luck,” and I saved it in a white ceramic box on my dresser. I had about 1,000 tabs in my lucky collection, verging on hoarders, but I was sure lucky!

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I also wished on green M&M’s, gave someone a punch in the arm if I saw a Volkswagon bug, and wore the same lucky red bandana to field hockey games, folded in a precise way, to make sure our team won, and I scored. I also lined the shoes up in the back porch–left to right–and checked under my bed and in my closet for scary creatures before I went to sleep. 

Most of these rituals were innocuous, and many other people have them too–I think…? Other rituals, however, seemed, well, downright cray and were quite invasive. For example, the most irrational and illogical superstition I had as a child was that I could not be in the bathroom when the toilet flushed, or I’d have bad luck. Now, this is not exactly convenient. So, I developed a system in which I would quickly flush with the handle while simultaneously hopping out of the bathroom, like I jack rabbit. I seriously, like, jumped a hurdle each time I flushed.

I thought of these things today for two reasons. One, I have been wearing this same ring on my finger for months, and I thought, “I am tired of this ring; maybe I will take it off and put on a different one.” But, then, something inside me said, “Wait, but maybe you should always keep it on, since you have for so long, or you will have bad luck!” I know this is insane, and yes, it seems OCD. However, it’s not something that interferes with my life, so…? On or off? I don’t know.

I also think of these superstitions now when I see others, or children, doing these sorts of rituals, like touching a wall twice before leaving a room, or opening and shutting a gate an extra time. Sometimes, to their chagrin, I will say, “Did you just do that because you think you’ll have bad luck?” And they will often reply affirmatively with a level of shame as if they’d been caught. There is no shame in these things. We all just manage how we can for a variety of reasons.

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I do wonder, though, if I had grown up in today’s world if I would have been medicated. Like, I was always so anxious about stuff. I grew out of most of it, sans therapy or medication, but I think in today’s psychological climate and with our increased awareness of anxiety, they would have signed me up.

Anyone else do anything weird they want to share? Well, within reason… Ha!

 

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Single and Alone During a Pandemic

On Wednesdays, my children go with their dad for the night. While this was at one time a much-appreciated and well-deserved break for me, during this pandemic, my feeling of isolation is exponential. It reminds me of when I had to put the Christmas tree up by myself. An experience like that that can be joyful with a family around, but it can be that much more lonely as a single person. Worse yet, a single person who actually has children but who cannot be with them. I often fear Christmas day when they leave mid-morning for their dad’s house. Today, I fear the sadness I will feel over the coming hours. The nighttime is the worst.

Sometimes, when I just can’t handle the nighttime by myself anymore, I turn off the lights and go to bed at 8 o’clock, like I’m a toddler. I lay there, maybe take a melatonin gummy to fall asleep and wait until morning. Sometimes I lay there and wonder what the hell happened, and how I find myself in this situation. Where did I go wrong? How can I fix this? Regrettably, I can’t. I can only move forward and have to accept that. Acceptance isn’t easy for me.

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Photo by Ashutosh Jaiswal on Pexels.com

I am not writing this as a call for help or for you to feel bad for me. I’m writing, because it’s how I can work through something. I also like to communicate with others through words, and to share my thoughts with people who might feel the same, and it resonates with them. I also write to give some insight to those of you who are stuck at home with a partner or spouse during this pandemic, and you are going nuts and dreaming of getting a divorce. Maybe you’re walking up the staircase lobbing out the middle finger. Or maybe you’re rolling your eyes behind the fridge door as you sneak a tug of wine. Let me tell you: the grass isn’t greener on this side. Really think about it, I say, before you do anything drastic. I did hear, interestingly enough, that the domestic violence rate is up right now during the COVID-19 social quarantine. If you ever find yourself there, or as some say “in the wrong story,” then leave. Definitely leave, then.

Yesterday, I felt exasperated trying to work remotely and entertain a 7-year-old and 9-year-old. It’s kind my fault she always wants to play with me, because I am extremely good at Barbies. #resume #skillset In fact, she often touts this about me, and when they had to do a Mother’s Day assignment in school and fill in the blank for “My Mother Is Good at ____,” she wrote “Barbies.” Most kids wrote “hugs,” “cooking,” “stories.” Cooking? Not my forte.

This reminds me of when I first got divorced, and I was in the local coffee shop. I looked at the bookshelf to my left, which had a few straggling books left behind. One of them was titled Cooking for One. Something about that title just strikes me as inherently depressing. Like, in buying it, you’re admitting to yourself a life of solitude.  Perhaps being alone works for some people. And that’s great. However, I’m not one of them. I’m a ENTJ, or whatever those acronyms are. Simply put: I like to be with people. I’m more of a social animal, like a dog or a hyena. Wait…

Anyway, I hope those of you who are home alone today–or even feeling alone with people–know there’s someone here who empathizes: me. We will get through these times.  As Charles Dickens once wrote, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” Oh, and I hate people who quote Dickens. The end.