Monday, April 7, 2014

When Forgiveness Comes to Your Doorstep

Years ago (2001) in a General Conference talk given by James E. Faust on the Atonement he said this about forgiveness: "Keep a place in your heart for forgiveness, and when it comes, welcome it in." I remember when he said it and how it struck a chord with me. I believe we have all had times when we have been hurt, wronged, judged, treated unkindly or been betrayed and also done the same to others in our worst moments. However, I would like to think that over the years my rough edges are being worn smooth and maturity is settling my knee jerk reactions. I've learned more about withholding my words and learned to love more, serve more, judge less and realize that my "drawn lines" were sometimes in the wrong place.
In my last post I wrote about how I had been deeply hurt by another and how the storms in my life had been all but consuming. Well I am happy to share the most recent chapter in all of this, it started actually many months ago when this woman attempted to call me, I wasn't ready at that point and more than a little skeptical, I wasn't unkind to her, I just let her know I wasn't in a place to revisit anything yet. Then more months passed and one Sunday as I was leaving church her husband approached me and after some awkward small talk he let me know that his wife would really like to talk to me. I again hesitated and indicated to him that I wasn't ready but that I appreciated him passing the message on. Then a few weeks later on a Saturday, in fact the Saturday before the Superbowl, my husband and I had been out furniture shopping all day (since I had sold much of our furniture preparing for a move that is now on hold) we returned home and as I walked into the kitchen there was an envelope with my name on it sitting on the counter. My stomach turned a little as instinctively I knew who it was from, I picked it up and quickly tucked it in my purse, a few hours later when I was able to sneak away, I locked myself in my room and opened the letter....

...To the relief of my spirit it was filled with only good things, she fully apologized and admitted her deep regret for the letter she sent and the way she had treated me. She mentioned her inability to forgive herself for how she had behaved and that she indeed knew I was a good person and had not deserved any of it. Her sincerity was evident and I felt instantly that any sadness, hurt or bad feelings towards her were gone and all that was left was compassion for her. I knew that while the pain I had endured was crippling, she was feeling the effects of being the one to have caused the hurt. It had been a prison of sorts for her, knowing something she had done could not be taken back or unsaid and she had experienced unbearable regret. I realized in that moment that the price had been high for both of us and that my only job was to forgive her unconditionally and show love to her.

I responded to her with my own letter letting her know of my forgiveness and that I wish all good things for her. I told her how I appreciated her apology and that it gave me much needed peace with the situation. There is a true gratitude for the resolve in this very difficult trial in my life. I grew tremendously from the experience and I know I am a better person, a more compassionate person and I wouldn't trade it.

As humans we all make mistakes and I saw her as someone who in her own weakness and on her journey through this crazy life had made some mistakes that happened to cause me pain. None of that was beyond fixing and who would I be to withhold forgiveness or in essence hold her hostage to her mistakes? There was nothing I could do to punish her more than I am sure she had punished herself. Sometimes the best comebacks in life is when we have messed up, learned something from it and become better. I mean I have come to love watching a football game when my team has messed up for 3 quarters and then made a huge comeback in the 4th to win! Yeah it stinks when we fumble, but how can we not all love and cheer on a good recovery?!? I pray each night that those I have hurt with my words or actions, usually in the form of my children or husband that I have been less than patient with, that they will forgive me and allow me the opportunity to try again tomorrow. Children are such great examples of forgiveness, they so willingly accept a heart felt "I'm sorry honey for being impatient." and then squeeze your neck and remind you their love is unconditional.

Now, there are times when you won't get that apology letter or acknowledgement of our pain caused by others. I know this to be true in my life, some hurts are harder to overcome and forgive, but it is still only to our benefit to find the space for forgiveness, to lighten our loads, to hold less anger and resentment. In Yoga we use the phrase Namaste at the end of each practice, it means "My spirit acknowledges your spirit" or "The divine in me honors the divine in you", basically saying the good in me sees the good in you. Yoga is a practice of breathing in all the good and releasing the bad, focusing on improving from one movement to the next, one hour at a time. We must find it within us to see others as our Savior sees each of us, even in all our imperfectness. There is no growth when we hold others to their mistakes, bad choices or hateful actions. It doesn't mean that we have to embrace those that wrong us with a big hug or invite them to our birthday parties but it does mean that we won't glare their direction at any given opportunity or waste our precious time thinking of how we could bleach the trees in their yard without someone seeing.

Forgiveness is a wonderful gift we can give to others and to ourselves. I am grateful to this woman who found courage to reach out in all humility and take responsibility and then ask for my forgiveness. I truly see good in her and know we have both taken lessons from our paths crossing, they have helped us grow and change for the better.

Until next time.


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Here I am

   Haven't been here in a long while. Not sure I remember how to do this? I am sitting here under the covers in my pajamas with my 2 year old Sam sitting next to me with his (my) Kindle, thinking about how I got here to Jan. 8, 2014, 35 years old with 4 children. I am not sad to see 2013 go just as I wasn't sad to see 2012 go into the books, nope not sad, but grateful, wait, beyond grateful more like humbled to have had it happen at all. January 2013 I was personally rocked to my core by the perfectly awful storm that consumed my mind, my spirit and my will to keep going. I found myself crippled by postpartum depression, a depression so deep, so wide there was no swimming, no doggy paddle, not even floating but sinking into the depths....
   My pregnancy with Sam (started Feb 2011) was one that wiped me out physically and mentally, I was 35 pounds heavier than ever  to start with, I had watched a friendship of 20 years crash and burn and it felt like a death. I spent the first 20 weeks of the pregnancy on the floor of the bathroom and then we moved from my beloved "Camelot" to a new city and state during the few weeks that I was doing OK only to then start showing early signs of preeclampsia at 28 weeks. I was induced at 38 weeks because of the risk that Sam and I both faced. I thought the worst was behind us (silly me), we were supposed to come home with our new son and have everything return to the normal we knew. We were WRONG WRONG, really really wrong, instead we faced an infant who WOULD NOT sleep but scream from 8pm until 6am, we slept in shifts of 4 hours for nearly 2 months until a friend, a heaven sent friend text me late one night, as I sat crying with my son, information on food sensitivities and some options. I really only had one option and that was to eat an extremely strict diet and eliminate or avoid ALL possible foods that could be the culprit of Sam's extreme discomfort and our sleep deprivation, Navy Seals had nothing on me!

(Break from back story: I only tell this long story so that the entire picture is given as to why the last 2.5 years have had such a deep impact on who I am and where I'm at today.)

Within 24 hours of changing my diet Sam was doing much better so I knew that in order for us to all survive I would do what I HAD to do. I ate the same 7 foods for the next 10 months, used a ton of doTerra's essential oils and we were sleeping enough to live. As I tried to reclaim some normalcy for our house I struggled to find my spot in the community where we live, I tried to make friends and be social but at night I cried and felt more alone than ever in my life, some days I didn't get out of bed and I prayed for relief. I knew that the depression I had fought with since I was 11 or 12 was ever present and taking hold of me. I prayed, Oh how I prayed for sunshine in the cold winter, I prayed for peace, I prayed for a friend, I prayed for someone, anyone that would see me!

In mid 2012 I things were feeling better, I had lost lots of weight 60 lbs, found a great yoga studio and a few girls had shown a hand of friendship, they invited me to hang out with them a few times and one of them was especially kind. She and I talked about our mutual struggles with depression and other deep things of the heart. It felt like a bit of Heaven looking down on me for a little while, a reprieve.  Then in late fall of 2012 I had no choice but to let another long time friendship slip away and I began to feel the shade from one of the girls here in my new neighborhood, I could tell she didn't want to be around me, but I pretended to not notice in case it was just my own insecurities. Then January of 2013 came and I learned in a lightning strike that it wasn't my insecurities, no I was spot on, she couldn't stand me and in a page and half left on my door step and visit to my home, I found out why. The details of which don't matter because everything she thought or said about me was only a 1/1000 of what I felt about my self already. Of course I was ALL the things she said I was, I couldn't stand myself so why would anyone else?!? In that one event, any strength I had left was ripped out from under me and I was rubble on the floor, I had NOTHING! I wept in a ball on my bedroom floor for several days and when the tears couldn't flow any longer I shut down emotionally and cut everyone off. I had nothing to give. My husband was all I had and he had become so angry with the recent events that it was better not to share with him, so I didn't.

 I was alone.

  I was stripped of all ego, all confidence, I couldn't remember who I was, or if I ever knew to begin with. I had been brought to my knees and so I stayed, I stayed there until there were no more words to speak and then I just listened. At first it was quiet and then it came in form of the impression to speak to my Bishop, it came as flowers "just because" from my sweet neighbor down the street, it came as a visit from two amazing ladies in my ward "who were just thinking of me". It came from a husband who just held me as I cried, who seemed to be able to see the pain and despair that I was sinking in and lifted me up. It came from a Heavenly Father that loved me so much that he knew the ways I needed to grow as a person and He provided the fire in which to send me through.

Getting up...

I set up some temporary walls so I could do some rebuilding, it took me months of thinking and pondering about who I wanted to be, who I had been and how I'd been wrong. For too long I didn't believe I was worthy, not worthy of having friends, not worthy of good that came my way, and least of all, love. I was the mistakes I had made, the words that had been shouted at me years before, the teenager that starved her self to be invisible, the mother who yelled at her children, the wife that criticized her husband, I had become HER. Was I her everyday, no. There were furloughs of happiness and sunshine that filled my soul and kept me going but underneath there was an ache and deep pain, the kind that no band aid can cover. Having someone tell me all the things I already believed about myself, combined with everything else, was the second most painful thing I have been through, but as those words played over and over in my head I started doing the work to change me. If I had learned anything from years in counseling it was that I had a choice. I was going to choose to let it go, all of it. I know it wasn't just one person that caused it all, it was a series of events all put together that left me vulnerable an exposed to this one person and her words.

Where I'm at...

I don't hate her, if anything I was reminded of why it's so important to be kind, to give love and that not every thought I have is worthy of being said or expressed. I choose much more carefully the things I say to others because I don't know what they have been though or are going though. Who am I to be the one to tell them what "I think of them" or what I perceive to be their weaknesses?? Not my place, and it wasn't hers. She didn't know me anymore than I knew her. We are all on our own path and who am I to be anything but kind to all those I come across along the way? I want to lift those around me, not break them down. I am not so wise as to think that I know what is right or best for someone else. There is so much work for me to do on myself that there isn't time to spend "improving" others with my "insight and wisdom".

The work...

Ongoing and there have been people and events that have helped me find peace and strength. For example the two long time friendships have been repaired and are stronger than ever. I am stronger physically and mentally through lots of Yoga and meditation. I am more confident, more me. I no longer accept the things that one person said to me in a letter, the things she wrote are hers, she can own them if she wants but it wasn't about me at all. I don't do negative. I can't. I am a sensitive person and because of that I soak up what's around me and as I have discovered, if I want to be the best mom, wife, friend, sister etc. I have to eliminate or avoid all the things that have caused such discomfort in my life, otherwise I don't sleep so well. Depression will be a life battle so I have to choose to do all I can to keep it away and to find the joys in my life. This journey is mine and I won't allow anyone else to tell me how I should feel about myself. It's amazing how once you choose to see light it can fill you up, I have some A-MAZING friends and family that support me and love me, new neighbors that have truly been gifts in our lives, a husband that truly sees me and a God that has given me his grace. I know that without Him I wouldn't have been able to pick up the pieces and sew it all back together, credit is his and I owe all I have to him. Just no other way to say it really.

What's next?

Well, our family is about to embark on another adventure this time in Nashville, Tennessee in a few short weeks and with all the packing I have to do I really shouldn't be sitting in my pajamas and yet I am. I am excited for this new start, I know that the path before me is not all smooth but there have been too many miracles as of late for me to deny that I am heading in the right direction. So yes, I am grateful for the roads traveled and gazing onward and up for the road ahead.


                                      This was on a Yoga retreat in Zions National park