I’ve been mulling a post about forgiveness for some time now.
I’ve seen little sayings that say holding a grudge is like giving someone rent free space in your head or akin to swallowing poison and hoping the other person dies.
Those are both true and like any saying, easier said than done.
Today I ran into someone I can’t stand. I mean loathe, hate, despise…you get what I’m saying. I was in a semi good mood, at one of my favourite chill spots, and in walks this person.
I immediately felt my coffee rise up in my throat and my blood boil. I tried to ignore that person, but of course they wanted to chat.
The work I have to complete is still undone, I lost money because my appetite is gone (on second thought, that’s not such a bad thing…) since I can’t eat the cake I bought, and I still have a look on my face that’s a cross between holding in a fart and eating a sour lemon
I pride myself on not having high blood pressure, but that may change if I don’t get myself together.
This is truly a I want to kiss you with my fist moment*.
In the past, I would say a smart comment, try to cause this person some of the pain I’m feeling, find a way to, gotdammint, make them pay! But I’m tired of carrying this bitterness around with me. I’m tired of avoiding life because I’ll see people I don’t want to see. I haven’t been to worship because one of the people I have an issue with may be there. Do I really want to be known as the woman who tried to kick someone’s ass in church?
It’s the Christmas season. I should be buying gifts, drinking too much red wine, and handing out holiday cheer. Instead, I’m nursing a grudge that is perilously close to making me step even further out of character than I already have been.
I’ve researched the five (or seven depending on the text) stages of grief, and I thought I was stuck on the anger phase.
According to James Van Praagh in the book Healing Grief – Reclaiming Life After Any Loss, the seven steps aren’t present one at a time. The feelings can coexist together and each needs to be experienced fully in order to move on with my life.
According to Praagh, the steps are:
6. Sadness and Depression
The first two, shock and denial are buffers to reality. The human mind is amazing. Despite ourselves, our minds will help us do what needs to be done to cope. Shock and denial allow ourselves to escape the reality of what has happened until we are better able to process our new reality. These two stages aren’t that long because as humans we think we can negotiate anything. This is the bargaining stage. We say we’ll stop cursing, promise to quit smoking, give up drinking, stop over eating bacon, whatever it takes to have this loss reversed. Once we see that these promises are useless, we get angry.
Angry at those responsible (see kiss with my fist for proof), angry at our Higher Power, and finally angry with ourselves.
The Super Christians in my life tell me I have no right to be angry with God. He woke me up and everything, right?! Praagh said it’s normal to feel anger. We’ve experienced a loss and felt powerless to change the outcome. We feel victimized, helpless, afraid. Once again, the mind is “protecting” us from the blow.
Anger can be good. It can propel the worker stuck in a dead end job to register for classes that will help obtain a different career. It can make the musician practice just that much more for a place in the band. It can get one off their bum and to the track if they hear one more fat joke.
Anger can also be bad. I haven’t had acne this bad since I was 17. I now have more bumps on my face than The Teen. I haven’t been sleeping well, and I’ve been rewriting the same damn paper for a month. I’m stalled in my anger.
Which leads me to feelings of guilt. If, as Praagh suggests, I look objectively at my loss, I see that there was not much more I could do. I worked hard, I was honest, I did my best. Sometimes your best isn’t good enough. Weighing myself down with these guilty thoughts won’t change anything. This is just another burden.
A burden like Fat Mittens on my back while I’m sleeping.
Or manifests itself into sadness and depression. Not sleeping is not helping. My lack of appetite is combatted by late night snacking while I fill my mind with infomercials and American Dad repeats.
I seem to have slipped from living to existing. If it wasn’t for the kids, I would probably still be in my pajamas watching shamelessly watching Maury
GIFSoup and Jerry Springer. A good cry is suggested as a way to start to break through. Also seeking someone to talk with (professional or friend) can help. This stage is supposed to be temporary.**
Finally, we can get to the last stage, acceptance. In this final stage, we are able to acknowledge the situation for what it is and finally move on. We have two ways of doing this. We realize or ACCEPT that certain situations are beyond our control. I can’t change what happened. I have no control over what happened. So kissing one with my fist, while it may make me feel better, will inevitably lead to more trouble in a different set of circumstances that will have me through these stages again. I also have a chance to look at life in a new way. No, I’m not going to get what I wanted, but if I take that experience and find a way to apply it to my life, I can finally move on.
*Florence + The Machine Song Title
** If the feelings persist or manifest into a form of really kissing one with a fist or harming yourself, please, please, please get help.
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