The inspiration for today’s post comes from my follower (oh dear that kind of sounds cultish), D. D is also a childhood contemporary whose support has quickly elevated him to the category of friend. D said in a message to me that he wished we had been closer as children and I got to thinking that the person that D had wished he was closer to actually did not exist until recently. This post in no way reflects any relationship or feelings regarding D but rather the one statement that he made has taken me on this particular path regarding my thought processes and journaling. I thank D for the inspiration to write this post as writing it puts it to bed, where it belongs!
Any self-help advice you can get tells you to forgive those who have wronged you but before I could be truly content, I had to forgive myself. The process of accepting life decisions and ‘forgiving’ myself for choices made and paths taken is enlightening. I believe that until recently I had never thought through any of my life choices as areas that may harbour deep regret.
I firmly believe in the Buddhist teaching that we are blessed with trials and tribulations and that only through accepting decisions, actions and outcomes can we grow and move on to a higher level (or the next challenge). I do not have any strong (or really any) religious beliefs but that is another whole post so I’ll come back to that again another time.
I have always accepted that challenging times were opportunities for my own personal development and have looked on people whose interactions challenge me as living, breathing opportunities. When you adopt that approach it is easier to step back from situations and move on. What I didn’t realise is that in accepting what I had to learn from a particular life event, I had to take the learning, forgive myself for my reactions and move on. I have lived with deep regret for ridiculous interactions that I feel sure are not even remembered by the subjects of my regret.
Now I am not a person who wakes up in the morning and says to myself, “Hmmm, who can I upset today?” or “What can I handle so badly that someone else will develop resentment?” In fact, like virtually every other person treading the path of life, I wake up in the morning with the aim of supporting and nurturing those around me and I do the very best I can.
There is a Savage Garden song, I think called ‘I Believe’ and one of the lines is “I believe our parents did the best job they knew how to do.” It not only strikes a chord regarding my own parents but also my children. I have made decisions on the rocky road to raising children that, in retrospect, I would unmake. But I look at L and S and I look at AWESOME. They have both grown into exceptional young adults with their worlds at their feet. And I look back and realise that my best, without any doubt, was good enough.
For an extended period of L’s adolescence, she felt extreme isolation (no more details, hers is not my story). I desperately strove to become her best friend and to carry her through that. I am unsure whether her outcome would have been different had I chosen a different path but I do remember that I tied myself in knots in the belief that her issues were of my creation. I am a mum, I am sure that other mums have felt the same emotions.
If you think that things could not get personally more challenging for me, wrong, think again. S made some very bad decisions in early adolescence and I blamed myself for not loving him enough (as a result of having too strong a focus on L). S challenged my values very significantly in his early adolescence and this was the biggest of any child rearing challenges that I faced. As we clawed our relationship back out of a very deep pit, S and I adopted a ’10 hugs a day’ mantra. At first, I think that S probably capitulated in action but not with his heart. It took us many, many months to return our relationship to one of trust and respect. In fact the turning point for me was when S confided in a friend’s mother, who happened to have been a policewoman in some area of child services. She took me aside and said to me, “You know, you have a really, really good boy there who made a mistake. If you continue to treat him as a bad person, that is what he will become.” I cannot thank her enough for those words. I remember another friend of mine who was a spectator to my struggles through my children’s adolescence said to me, “If you had a ‘nice’ child, the ‘nice’ will come back after they have gone through the adolescent phase.” It was a thought that kept me going.
G, L, S and I (together we are GALS!) never greet without the warmest of bear hugs and never part without the words, “I love you.” I think back to those strained hugs of S’s early adolescence and I know that every one of them was worthwhile.
What I am journaling here is actually a post that could fit into “Blame and Responsibility” but accepting that I was not to blame for other’s choices and that I could not take responsibility for someone else over whom I had no control was liberating at a basic level. Moving away from any regret and forgiving myself for any imagined wrong doing has allowed my soul to fly!