To Forgive Or Not To Forgive. That is the question?

A couple of years before my Ma’s health took a severe turn for the worse I received a phone call from her.  I was sitting at my desk, it was early morning and the conversation started with the following:  (Ma:)  I talked to God the other night.  He came to me and told me to ask for forgiveness from those who I have hurt but first forgive them for whatever they have done to me.  So, I wanted to ask you to forgive me for all of the things that happened which made it hard for us to have a relationship.  (Me:) Fuck you Ma! – and I hung up the phone.

The back story to that conversation is that my Ma and I had a tumultuous relationship (at best) and through many heavy issues, it took my moving almost ten hours away for us to get past our differences and have a real Mother-Daughter relationship.  Did we love each other – always.  That was not the cure that made everything better though.  But it is the reason we survived through my 20s.  However (for me) that conversation with my Ma was her way of unburdening herself so she could die with an eased conscious.  The reason why I refused to accept it (as harsh as it sounds) was that I felt if I had said what most people would have said – I forgive you – it would have signified my permission to allow her to die.  I just was not ready for that.  Selfish, I know, but honest.  Ma was with me for two years after that, so the issues that weighed on her mind were eventually resolved.  Just not on that particular day.

When my children were very young – Alex was a toddler at the time and Mander still in diapers, we lived in a small apartment in Richmond, Kentucky.  It was low-income housing and I worked as much as I could to scrape together what I could to provide for my children.  Times were tough.  And I was mad and bitter and at the end of my rope.  My ex-husband had effectively isolated me from my friends and family, I was struggling to even put food on the table and I hated everyone else for being happy while I suffered through.  I could literally feel the bile burn in my stomach over what a shitty hand life had dealt me.  I wallowed in it, wore it like a fine cloak, owned it.  Then one afternoon I was sitting on my couch, just staring out my window, when I realized something – my life was not going to get any better when it was weighted down with all of this hatred I had built up.  I had to let it go.  It happened to be around New Years.  I started making phone calls.  I called people that I had not spoken to for a decade and sorted out my issues with them.  I spoke to family members that I had written off and made amends.  And then, I called my Ma.  She was the last and hardest on the list because our issues appeared insurmountable.  When she answered, it was with an edge.  And I said three simple words, “I love you”.  That was followed by apologies and forgiveness.  My life changed that day, it was not any easier than before the phone call but my heart was lighter and I was able to deal with life in a more acceptable way.

Since that time I have made it my obligation to make amends in the weeks that lead up to New Years.  The numbers are far less that I have to reach out to.  But it never fails that there are at least one or two people that I feel the need to contact and just set things right.  This year is no different.  Which brings me to the second half of the story of my Ma’s conversation with God…

My Ma made a lot of phone calls.  God had put her on some sort of a deadline (who knew that God micromanaged?!?).  So she was hellbent (pardon the pun) on getting the task put before her out of the way in the proper amount of time.  She reached out to my aunt Tammy.  The two of them had deep rooted issues that (even when my Ma was on her deathbed) would never be resolved.  Ma’s conversation with her went a little different than the one she had with me.  In essence (and with my paraphrasing), it went something like this:  (Ma:) Tammy?  This is Beckie.  I talked to God the other night and he told me I needed to forgive you for all of the crap you did to me.  So I forgive you.  I don’t want to hang out with you or anything but I need to forgive you for everything.  And please forgive me.

((Chuckle))  That was the essence of my Ma.  And they wonder where I get my bluntness from!

So, ’tis the season for my forgiveness…  I have a handful of people on my roster.  Going into this task, I am never foolish enough to think that people will accept my forgiveness, or even want it and the same goes with my apologies.  Sometimes a person is forgiven, sometimes I have to ask for forgiveness.  Sometimes it is a combo of both.  But, however the conversation is structured (usually) there are real reasons why we are at odds and although I am ready to move on does not mean I should be offended when the intended party does not reciprocate.  Today – I sent an email to the first person on my list.  I forgave them and asked them to forgive me.  Its not easy doing either of those things sometimes.  However, when the reply is: “Ill smile and play nice but know I will nvr forgive you so you can shove your apology back up your ass where it came from.” – I laughed out loud.  I am giggling right now.  I knew that the response from the offended party would probably be negative (as Ma would say, I don’t want to hang out with you but I forgive you anyways).

The thing for me is this – it is harder to hold onto the negative energy rather than just letting it go.  But it always seems that even though I REALLY want to let go, it still surfaces on occasion.

Second on the list is someone I don’t have to see every day or have occasion to bump into, so I am thankful for that.  However, it is one that I have to pull from deep within to see my way past.

And, in closing, I would like to say (with all sincerity) that I really am not a psychotic bitch.  Ok, maybe some days I am… The first step to recovery is acknowledgement ((giggle))


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