Let Sleeping Dogs Lie

Daily Prompt: I Can’t Stay Mad at You

Do you hold grudges, or do you believe in forgive and forget?

forgiveness destroying heart

 

I don’t fit under either of the two cute little categories that WP decided on when they put out today’s Daily Prompt.  I bet most of you don’t either.  Rarely can we apply ourselves, as humans, toward reacting in the very same way to a specific comment or act, or even an unspecific comment or act.  So much of how we react depends upon the person in question, and also, if the act was perpetrated against us, or another person.  Because of this, I’m going to focus on one person for the purposes of this post.

Growing up, I saw very little of my father, the one I refer to on this blog as “Dad.”  My biological father.  I think he tried the best he could to love me when I was young, but he wasn’t able to be consistent.  You really must be consistent with young children, especially if you are a parent.  So, not showing up to pick me up for the weekend, cancelling plans at the last minute, not remembering my birthday, being passed out drunk when my sister and I were over for Christmas (just tiny little kids, at that).  Thirty-two years later, I have forgiven him for all of that.  The anger and the hurt and the even sometimes, hatred, fell away when I realized that, by being angry with him, by holding that grudge, I wasn’t allowing myself to move forward.

So I forgave, I found compassion.  But I didn’t forget.  Thinking about those times still makes me sick to my stomach, and even now, when he is running a few minutes late, I’m convinced he’s not coming.  So no, never forget.  But I forgive…over and over and over.  So much that others in my life question why I do.  He became much better about things around ten years ago when he married my stepmother, but he has regular lapses in the behavior you would expect from a father.

He acts like an ass, he says something judgmental, it appears that he does not have the feelings and emotions of a human being.  All those years of hurt come back, and I feel like I’m six years old again, looking out the living room window for the car that would never show up.  I don’t hold a grudge, but there’s a big part of my heart that remembers, can’t forget.

I realized not long ago, that sometimes I will have to tell my dad how to act.  For years, he would never call, but I would check in with him a few times a week.  I finally told him how much this bothered me, that he could never be bothered to give me a ring and I felt like I was doing all the legwork in this relationship.  As Dad often gets, he was baffled.  Had no idea.

I’m telling you, Dad does not have the normal emotional make-up of a human being.  He can be very distant and he goes through phases where it seems like he’d just as soon throw you in front of traffic than give you a hug or talk about the weather.  And maybe it’s this lack of humanity in him that makes me forgive him over and over.  I truly believe it’s possible that he just can’t help it.  His love, however inadequate at times, is the best it is ever going to be.  His follow-through sucks sometimes, but it’s getting better.

I think his wife helps him with that a lot.  Actually, I know  she does.  I don’t know how many times he has acted truly cruel, and then called back an hour later to say he has talked it over with his wife, and realizes now that he was very wrong.  She’s good for him, keeping him honest and accountable.  I don’t know if I’ve ever thanked her for that, for making my dad a better man, but I should.

After this last rough patch, we hand lunch today.  It went really well.  He was in a good mood and was chatty and told me how great I looked and how proud he is of me for all I am doing with work and taking care of DSB, and that’s how it should be.  It isn’t always, and I had to go a one month span without seeing him seemingly to prove a point, but we’re back on course again.  All is forgiven.  Again.

So DSB and the Queen and all my other supporters out there can keep shaking their head, knowing it’s only a matter of time until the next go-round.  Me, I’m going to embrace the fact that he’s my dad and he’s still on the planet and I’m going to keep forgiving every dumb thing he does.  Because I truly do think he’s oblivious, and I truly do believe he’s sorry when he hurts my feelings.

quote-forgiveness-is-a-promise-not-a-feeling-when-you-forgive-other-people

 

My Apologies for the Disorganization Contained Within

Here recently, I have done a lot of reading of other blogs.  I’ve read some beautiful, horrible, raw, fascinating, plagiarized, well-written, and under-developed posts.  Underneath all of that, however, there is always a story that is being told.  It isn’t up to me to judge, but I can choose to “like” the post.  I can choose to comment.  I can choose to follow that blogger.  With two weeks worth of nothing-ness at work, I have followed a lot of new bloggers.  And by new, I don’t necessarily mean new, just new-to-me.  My goal for this period in which I have a great deal of time to read and ponder, was to comment whenever I could.

Now lemme tell ya, there are many bloggers that I have been following, some for months, some longer, that I absolutely love but never comment on.  It may sound silly, but when I type out a comment, I look at it and think that it’s: a) poorly written, b) not witty enough to keep up with the rest of the commenters or the person who posted, c) just plain dumb.  So, many times, I don’t comment.  Well in these past two weeks, I have been a commenting fool.  I have said what is in my heart, what a particular post makes me feel, a thank-you to the author, trying for originality, and, watch out world, Rosa is commenting.  Fiercely.

I’m hoping that by commenting, I will work my way back into posting more regularly.  I have always written for myself, but there is still a piece of me that says, “Good gawd, Rosa!  That’s a piece of crappy drivel…you can’t publish that!”  Because I don’t want to embarrass myself, you know.  I know I’m far from being a great writer, but I’m not a terrible one, either.  I read these fascinating, well-written posts by talented, but seemingly-human bloggers, who appear to be able to churn out one hand-clapping-worthy post a day, and then I look at the draft I am writing, and I vow not to publish such crap into existence.

Part of the whole problema that is Rosa is that I am much too hard on myself.  I am sharper and meaner with myself than my worst critic could ever be.  This is why I am saying three daily loving-kindness meditations, why I am doing one kind thing for a stranger every day, for a loved one every day, and (am supposed to be doing) one for myself.  Every day.  It was a therapy assignment.  I am most stellar at saying my loving-kindness meditations, as I always have been, because I can so fully feel the community and the connectedness in my heart when I do.  Unlike I am able to at any other time.  Amazing.  It is easy to do one kind thing for a stranger and a loved one every day.  I think I was probably doing that before, just not as mindfully or with such intent.

And the third therapy assignment is the topic of my next blog post:  How do I start being nice to myself?  It’s the next blog post because this one’s already getting a bit long, and also because I will have to do some deep introspection.  I’m not really that good at being kind to myself, but I’m all about growing together.

 

Words for Now and The New Year

Reverb13 prompt for December 17th is as follows:  reverb13 - 400px What word did you select to be your travelling companion in 2013? What gifts did this word bring?  What word will you choose to guide you through 2014? What do you hope it will bring into your life?

Because my brain couldn’t fathom the first part of this year, I read blog entries from earlier this year, and it appears that I was in survival mode, not really choosing any word persay to be a “travelling companion.”  In the latter part of the year, I think I chose to focus on the word “recovery,” because that was what I was doing — entering recovery.  For really, the first time ever.

That probably sounds a little dramatic, but it’s true.  I got this idea in my head that life could be better and that it could stay that way.  So I worked and worked on the little things that made my recovery happen, and now I sit here, a few weeks out from 2014 and I can say that I feel “in recovery” from my mental health issues.  Do I thin k they will flare at some point in time?  Absolutely, but I am doing what I can every day to keep myself under control and do the things that work for me.

The gifts that recovery has brought to my life are priceless.  It has brought me into a much deeper and healthy relationship with DSB.  It has allowed me to be closer to my mom and my dad.  It has meant that most nights I sleep well, and I don’t look for trouble.  It has given me the security to start letting go…of therapy, of worry, of guilt, of fear.  I feel like there are parts of me now that have at leas partially healed, that I didn’t think ever would.

I don’t like to predict the future, but I think in 2014 I will be carrying the word, “hope,” with me.  Hope that I can continue to improve personally and in my relationships.  Hope that I can keep my smoking quit going, that I can lose weight, and start to exercise some.  That I can keep setting goals and achieving them.

I hope these goals bring into my life more structure, happiness, and beauty.  I know I need to take better care of myself, and here I am, end of 2013 already working on it.  And in 2014, I want to see the following stats keep going higher and higer:

Three weeks, one day, 11 hours, 35 minutes and 24 seconds. 1348 cigarettes not smoked, saving $171.32. Life saved: 4 days, 16 hours, 20 minutes.

I simply can’t fathom the number of cigarettes I haven’t smoked.  Amazing.  And it is getting easier by the day.  If you are smoking and thinking of quitting, give it some more thought — I never thought it would be so rewarding or how much better  I would feel.  Sweet success.

Self-Compassion, Another Sticking Point

I sure was in a bad place, or maybe just a strange place when I wrote last night’s post.  I was trying to explain to DSB why I felt like hell about not getting anything accomplished.  He didn’t try and say that I actually did get some things accomplished (which I did), he just gave it the same ultra-rational take as he does on everything: “Stop thinking about it and do it.  Just do it.”

Sometimes I feel like my life is a Nike commercial.  Being urged to “just do it” constantly.  It just isn’t that easy and I do wish it was.  After blogging, I would like to add that I gave myself a facial and took a shower.  It felt very nice, almost like I was rewarding myself for my breakthrough.  I am hoping I can do something similar tonight, if not tomorrow.

Part of DBT is that you are supposed to be kind to yourself.  I, and most people with a mood disorder, am not very good about it.  Because really, seriously, let’s just admit it, deep down (or maybe right at the surface), there is a good bit of self-loathing going on, at least some of the time.  At least that’s how it is for me.

I have taken a well-known self-compassion scale in DBT many times and found the same one here, that you can take yourself, if interested, as well.  My scores are miserable.  I am not kind to myself, am full of self-judgement, don’t feel part of humanity, feel isolated, am not mindful, and am over-identified.  I have taken the same scale many times throughout my “recovery process” and have always turned up the same.

How many people do you know that are self-compassionate?  I can’t think of many, but I don’t have a very big circle.  Maybe you know people who love themselves and care for themselves and are easy with themselves when their flaws are revealed.  That, according to the only two therapists I have had in my 17 year stint in DBT-based therapy, is what it’s all about.

To heal, you must be kind to yourself.  You must practice self-compassion.  Be easy on yourself, and give credit where credit is due.  It’s been 17 years and you think I would have “bought in” by now, right?  Why haven’t I?  Is it willfulness, rearing it’s ugly head?  Perhaps.  Is the lack of self-compassion learned behavior?  Certainly could be.  I can point to the major players in my life and look at how hard they are on themselves and think, “hmmmm, I wonder…”

It doesn’t really matter where it came from, just that it’s hear.  I do believe you, oh you two therapists out there, when you say that I need to be kinder and gentler with myself, do nice things for myself, treat myself well, cut myself some slack.  It is just so damn hard to do.

After my self-administered facial and long shower last night, I felt amazing.  If that is just one small step towards giving myself some kindness, I might even try it again.  There’s a little voice telling me I don’t deserve it, but the long term goal is to  quash that voice and start thinking about what the next kind thing is I can do for myself.