I went to see my parents and sister last week in Florida. It was wonderful…lots of sunshine, relaxation and laughter. I obviously miss my parents living 3 minutes down the road, but seeing them in their new home/new retired life makes me profoundly happy. My parents worked so hard raising my siblings and myself (and the countless friends who practically lived at our house growing up)…they deserve the peace and quiet of their new life. And they seem so content. It was a really wonderful trip.
But, something surprised me during my visit…my family’s reaction to me. It started with my mother…we were sitting on her front porch, watching the sunset (which is not as amazing as a Cape Cod sunset, but surprisingly close) and she commented on how happy I seemed. I smiled and replied I was hearing that a lot lately…must be the yoga and meditation and she continued “no, I mean it…you seem better.” This caught me off guard…better? Better now means before I was ‘bad’? I asked her what she meant by ‘better’ and her response shocked me…. “You just seemed so tired before we left…I was worried about you.” I laughed saying of course I was tired, I work a lot, I’m always tired, but she stopped me “No, I mean you seemed tired with everything…”
‘Tired with everything…’ I kept repeating that phrase in my head the next few days. ‘Tired with everything’. Had I been? My parents left in November…November I was in my new job, our new home…had I still been that sad? Had I still been that disappointed? Had I still been that tired?
My sister surprised me next. On my last day, as we were driving to the airport she commented that she was so happy to see me in such a good place…’Tired with everything’ immediately came to my mind…so just like with my mother I asked for clarification…what did she mean by ‘in such a good place’…her answer “You just seem lighter…” Lighter now means I was heavy before?
And I realized something…they were both right. See I worked really hard last year to embrace it all: the IVF, our Warrior embryo, the pregnancy, the miscarriage, my new job, our new home, my sisters baby, my parents move, my evolving friendships, the highs and lows of our marriage during all of it…I tried really, really hard. And trying that hard for so much (even though somethings were tremendously good, while others were unbearably difficult) it’s exhausting. It’s exhausting to feel that much…to be that happy and that sad…to be that hopeful and that disappointed…to be that thankful and that angry. It’s exhausting to be given so much and also have so much taken away. It made me very tired, the weight of it all was very heavy.
So the question is…how did I become lighter?
The answer, I’ve come to realize is…forgiveness.
First of all, forgiving random people…that was simple. I forgave the stranger in Target giggling with her adorable baby next to me as I clutched another box of pregnancy tests I knew were going to be negative. I forgave the pregnant girl next to me at the lab draw station who complained about the symptoms of her pregnancy as I waited to find out if my blood work would confirm a miscarriage. I forgave our doctor the night he called to apologize for that blood work confirming what, in our heats, we all already knew. I even forgave the co-worker who told me having a miscarriage ‘wasn’t that bad’ as I felt my body rejecting our Warrior. I toss random forgiveness out into the universe easily these days…
Forgiving the people I care about…that was surprisingly easy. I forgave our Warrior for not having a heartbeat the moment I didn’t hear it. I forgave my sister for having a baby (when I didn’t) the minute I saw her being a mom…a tremendously good mom who I think is better at it than I’ll be. I forgave my friends and family members for not always saying or doing the right thing when time after time they did say and do the right things…they get it right a lot more than they get it wrong. It’s not hard to forgive the people you love when they love you without needing any forgiveness.
I think Dan and I forgave each other over time…it’s taken us time to forgive each other for not having a baby, for saying the wrongs things, for hoarding our disappointments and anger silently until the words, when finally spoken, were filled with such anger and disappointment we always ended up hurting ourselves more than each other. I think we both have finally forgiven ourselves for not being the spouse the other one needed all the time…for losing ourselves in grief. We found ourselves again, which made it easier to find each other. We’re better now and we’ve forgiven ourselves for needing to be.
But the hardest person to forgive…it was myself. It’s taken a lot for me to look in the mirror and be happy with the person I see. For so long the person staring back at me was so angry, so disappointed and so sad. And that anger, that sadness, that disappointment others felt it…in my words, my behavior…they suffered because I suffered. But, they were quick to forgive, because they loved me. But it wasn’t easy for me. It wasn’t easy for me to forgive it all…and I don’t mean what happened, I mean how I handled it…who I became. It’s not easy for me to forgive myself for becoming so tired…I let go of myself, I became a person I didn’t really like being and I justified my behavior because I was suffering. I allowed myself to look in the mirror and not really like who I saw and I let myself be okay with that.
But, I’m not now. I’m not someone who is okay with being not okay. I forgive myself for who I became, but I won’t ever be that person again. I forgive myself for not working harder on being better and I think I can only do that because I am working so much harder on being better. I’m taking the time to own my emotions, even the terribly ugly ones, and finding a way to work through them. I’m allowing myself to feel the disappointments (because I know there will be more), but I’m forcing myself to accept those disappointments and find gratitude to overcome them.
So that’s the reason behind the new ‘lighter’ me I think…It’s all easier to bear when you forgive yourself for all the once unforgivable things you’ve been carrying around.
If when you read the title of this post your first thought was “forgiveness…is more than saying sorry” we should definitely be best friends.