Lately, my meditations have become much more lucid and in the process, have taken me to unexpected places. I try to begin each one (once all of the cats have settled in for my session) by asking the Universe to show me something I need to know, or to offer guidance, especially when I feel I’m being particularly dense about something.
Today, my thoughts drifted to Forgiveness, and especially to the people I’ve been struggling over forgiving, fully and completely. I admitted to myself that all were people I’d allowed to manipulate me in some way: the fellow dance team member who used everyone she could to bring her closer to one of the instructors, and sucked me into her world of drama. the contractors who mislead me, and with whom I failed to check facts and figures. Or people who have gotten pissed off because I didn’t read their minds and understand all of their sensitivities. And yes, I fully recognize that all of these entail forgiving myself as well.
But as my mind continued to drift, I came to a very large group: Family members who did little or nothing to keep in touch with my sister and I after the deaths of our parents. In truth, the rift wasn’t entirely on them, as nothing ever is. Though I can’t speak for my sister, I know that I was busy dealing with a divorce, two small children and keeping my head above water after my mom died. (which is when most of them drifted away) As my mom had, in many cases, been the catalyst which kept everyone together, her passing cut the cords. I certainly didn’t have the time or the energy to bring people together. And I had little interest in family picnics which were catered instead of potluck, and where many of the participants squatted in someone’s air conditioned motor home instead of chasing the kids around with water guns. Though this may well be someone else’s idea of a family picnic, it wasn’t what I was used to, so I became resistant. To me, catering and air conditioning are more suited to a hotel or someone’s home. Family picnics are meant to be hot, sweaty, dirty and filled with food that was lovingly prepared by the participants.
But I digress. As I continued down the path of forgiving my extended family, I realized that, for the most part, I didn’t really need to forgive them on my own behalf, but on that of my mother. As I look back and add a few things I’ve learned since, I see that her own mother set the standard for her treatment through life, and, in fact, she might have been better off detaching from her family when she went off to start her own life with my father. Casting her out, destined to move, like a gypsy, from one aunt’s house to another, my mother became the disposable child, unworthy of love or respect. She didn’t belong to the families where she was forced to live, so she didn’t get to be part of the warm, inner circle of their household. Following the example set by my grandmother, everyone treated her, quite literally, like the redheaded stepchild (which was exactly who she was when my grandmother remarried, eventually having another child with the man.) Her cousins learned by example from their parents that it was ok to treat her disrespectfully. It was ok if she wasn’t given the love and acceptance she saw all around her.
So it was no surprise that the lonely, insecure girl grew into a lonely, insecure woman, still desperately trying to win the love of her family. It was she who had the parties and invited the family members to participate. It was she who resurrected the family picnics, long after my paternal grandmother had passed, only to have them taken over and perverted by the rest of the family. It wasn’t long before my father’s side of the family declined the invitations and left it to the alter kockers from everyone else’s extended families who preferred the comforts of home to a messy picnic. It was also she who ran up phone bills to keep in touch with everyone (back in those days, only the caller had to pay for long distance calls!)
Yet, again, I digress. As I traveled down this path, realizing that before I could forgive my family for turning their backs on me, I needed to forgive both them and myself for turning our collective backs on my mother. Sure, her efforts to win affection and approval were rather pathetic, but then, had things been as they should have been, she wouldn’t have had to make those efforts at all. Love and affection would have been hers because she was a member of the family. Even when she had a family of her own, she didn’t have any good examples to fall back on. My grandmother even made it clear that she preferred her son-in-law to her daughter. How sad is that? As a kid, I used to think it was a funny joke, but I know now that my mother only laughed on the outside. Inside, I’m sure she shattered just a little bit more.
The reality is that my family didn’t turn their backs on me at all. They simply turned their backs on my mother and everything she represented because, with her gone, and their share of her worldly possessions stashed away in some of their homes, they had no further need to pretend, and nothing more to gain.
I hope that in my mother’s next life, she is the adored princess she deserves to be. And I am grateful to her family for preparing her for that life with a lifetime of painful lessons. I understand that she chose the lessons she received in this lifetime, as did I, so blaming anyone for what happened is rather pointless. With this realization, I find that I can…and yes, do, forgive the people who made her, and her immediate family as well, feel like outsiders.
There is more than enough love in the world to go around, and, in fact, the more we give, the larger the pool. Just because we don’t find it where we expect to doesn’t give us reason to discount it, nor pretend that we are incapable of giving and receiving.
To the family I no longer see, I love you, and I appreciate the lessons you helped me learn. In a small way, you helped me become the strong, independent, forgiving woman I am continually becoming.
To the people I still struggle to forgive, I love you and appreciate you for helping me learn difficult lessons. May you be happy in the lives you’ve chosen for yourselves and someday, even forgive me as I’m forgiving you, but more, forgive yourselves as I’m learning to forgive myself. It is truly the greatest gift we can give ourselves: Acceptance with our flaws, and forgiveness when we stumble along our path. As long as we keep picking ourselves up, nothing else is really all that important!
My gratitudes today are:
1. I am grateful for the people who have been put in my path to make it more challenging. From them, I learned my most important lessons.
2. I am grateful to the Universe for sending my mind on a bit of time travel, and helping me finally understand, accept and forgive.
3. I am grateful for the ability to give and receive love, and to recognize how full of love the world is.
4. I am grateful for my writing talent which has allowed me to work through issues like this over the years. Sometimes, it took decades and re-reading what I’d written, and others, it just took opening myself up to the energies around me.
5. I am grateful for days when it seems I accomplish little, but really accomplish so much!
Love and light.