The Unforgiven & Unforgotten

I’ve been thinking a lot about forgiveness lately. We’ve all been hurt. We’ve all felt wronged or betrayed by someone. We may have even done some pretty hurtful things to others, *intentionally or not, ourselves. We may even have felt our hurtful actions were completely justified at the time.

We also know when we feel honestly and deeply sorry for the pain we may have brought into someone else’s life and how hard it is to approach them and ask them to forgive us. To admit we made a mistake, to admit we did something very wrong and regret it, to admit we are not perfect, to say, “I’m sorry. Will you forgive me?” is not easy. It takes a certain level of bravery because we are showing a weakness.

To forgive also takes great strength. It’s also the first step towards rebuilding trust in whatever form of relationship you have with that person be it parent-child, between siblings, close friends, or lovers. Trust is probably one of the most fragile elements of a relationship. If you can’t trust a person, you can’t grow to love them. You lose the trust, everything else starts falling to pieces. In some cases, once that trust is gone – there’s no getting it back. We all have our standards of what is a forgivable act against us is and what isn’t. For me, that line is cheating and abuse. In other cases, there’s still hope. It’s all very personal based on what we’ve experienced and felt before.

It gets pretty tricky while you’re stuck in the middle. You’re confused. You’re still hurting. You love them, but you hate what they’ve done. You may even desperately want to forgive them – but – trust. Can you trust them? Can you believe them when they say they’re sorry and won’t do it again? Can you rise above that doubt and fear and give them a second chance? Or, maybe it’s time to move on. Lesson learned.

I’ve had to walk away from a couple of relationship where not only was an honest apology never given, but the situations would not allow me to forgive with equal honesty. Trust was completely shattered beyond repair. However – even if forgiveness will never be in the picture, I’ve taken it upon myself to be GRATEFUL for that experience. What did I learn about myself because of it? What was I looking for in the relationship? What did I gain from it that I can now use for future relationships? There is my gratitude and that is how I put that pain behind me.

Instead of dwelling and asking myself over and over again ‘Why?’, beating my self-worth into the ground and putting the blame on something I did, I took a step back and said, “Wait just a  minute here.” This happened for a reason. I may never know that reason and that’s fine, but what I do know is I’ve Learned Something Important! Instead of the Blame Game it turned into something like, “Thank you for being such an asshole and screwing me over. I’ve learned from you. You taught me what I DON’T want! And, I am genuinely thankful.”

Remember how it felt when someone gave you another chance to prove you were truly sorry? Felt good, didn’t it? When it’s your turn to offer that chance to another, will you be strong enough? That’s what forgiveness is all about. It’s that first glimmer of trust coming back. It’s hope. It’s love. It’s not saying what that other person did was right, not at all. It’s saying, “I love you enough to try again, to rebuild, to be the best WE there is, to give US another chance.” If your forgiveness is as genuine as their apology – the trust and love will return. That will take work from both sides, but it can be done.

I don’t believe in “Forgive and Forget”. Sorry, no. I will NOT forget. If I do, I take the risk of repeating that madness over again. Instead, I take the knowledge into the future. Yes, it made me slow to trust every single relationship after, but the reward for applying lessons learned has been so worth it!

No one likes feeling weak and vulnerable. No one likes feeling like they can’t be trusted. No one likes feeling wronged or betrayed.

**I believe we all have the capacity to know when we’ve made a big mistake and when we’ve hurt another. I also believe we all have the power to face the errors of our ways, admit the wrong-doing and apologize with the deepest honesty. That heartfelt apology is the first step.

The second step comes from the act of true forgiveness. Letting go of what was, learning from it, moving forward instead of keeping yourself and the relationship in prison. The one who forgives is the one who holds the key to the jail cell you are both locked inside of.

*Sometimes we may NOT know we’ve hurt someone. Over any given period of time, people can forget aspects of long or varied conversations or get-togethers. We may say or do something in passing that we considered harmless or unimportant, yet a friend may have found it devastating. If we don’t know and they don’t tell, it’s going to be nearly impossible to apologize or forgive on either side.

**Unless you’re a narcissistic-psychopath, of course, then none of this applies to you at all because every bad thing that’s every happened to you is someone else’s fault, never your own. You’re perfect!


Food, Glorious Food! / Just Plain Random Weirdness

I’ve heard the remark, “Nobody sits down and eats dinner as a family anymore,” many times over in the past year. Until about five years ago I probably would have blamed it on the parents being too busy to bother or the kids having a lot of afterschool activities or heck, maybe even on cable television or video games. That’s no longer my tune.  I blame the increasing importance of retail stores and company greed.

My current household consists of four people between the ages of 23 and 56. Of those four, I am the ONLY one who does not work retail. That means I am the only one who has a standard Monday-Friday, 8am-5pm type of hours work schedule. One person has a set weekly schedule as far as days of the week go but is seldom home before 6 pm, closer to 7 o’clock most nights. The remaining two people have wild and random days they work and wide ranging hours. They can be on duty anywhere between 5 am and 10 pm. People leave the house as early as 4 in the morning to get to work and arrive home as late 11 o’clock at night or even midnight, depending on the time of year. Week to week this schedule varies. I have gone as long as three days and nights without seeing some members of the household upright and awake despite living in the same place. This does not even bring into the picture trying to find a date and time where my daughter can come over to visit or even meet us for dinner somewhere.

How does one schedule meals together when people have to work these wild shifts? Is anyone really going to show up at 7am on a Sunday morning to buy a pair of work gloves or set of ski poles? How often does someone arrive at 9:30 at night to order a set of cabinets?  What happen to a standard eight hour day? Oh, that’s right… MONEY!

If we stay open longer, more people will come. They will spend more money. We can get richer, faster. In the meantime, we have to have employees on duty for the customers that will be busting down the doors to get in at 7 o’clock in the morning. You never know when you’re going to have an “I need a new pair of boots” emergency! We better be open – – – just in case. And being open all these extra hours and having to pay the employees, not to mention the increased electric bill, we better lower the pay scale to cover all that thus making our profit even bigger! Woot!

Family sit down dinners where EVERYONE is present are few and far between in my house anymore. When they do happen it always seems to be a very special occasion and it really makes you appreciate that time. It’s a shame that the majority of corporate big wigs seem to have no concept anymore of what it means to have family time. Maybe they feel they’ve done their time and now that they’ve worked their way to the top of the ladder, those things are no longer important. Instead, they should be climbing down from that lofty position and remember from whence they came. Show your employees that you actually give a damn about them.

I stopped at a newly opened Hobby Lobby in town a couple weeks ago and then realized as a I pulled into the parking lot, “Oh, crap. It’s Sunday. They aren’t open on Sundays.” How awesome is that? I’m not even a Christian so I don’t need the time for ‘Worship’ but dang, the ‘time with their families’ clause really struck a chord with me and made me smile. Yes, it was slightly inconvenient as I’d made as special trip to check out the new store but if that’s the biggest thing I have to worry about in my life, that Hobby Lobby is closed on Sundays, I must really have a boring life. Which, I don’t.

As we dive head first into the holiday shopping season, I urge you to keep in mind those people behind the counters who are waiting on you. (I put in my retail time, too, folks, I know how nasty some holiday shoppers can be.) Remember they are only doing their jobs and trying to support their families on a pay check that probably barely covers their living expenses. Don’t get all snippy and impatient when a certain sweater isn’t there in the size or color you demand. Don’t be pushy and rude to your fellow human beings. Life as we know it is not going to implode on itself because you didn’t get the best deal of the day. Really – it’s not!

This is supposed to be a time of kindness, giving and love. A simple smile can go a lot further than you think.  Let these folks working their butts off at obscene hours of the day and night share in the joys of the holiday so that when they do eventually get to have some time at home with their family they don’t spend it venting off steam from your rude and demanding customer behavior. As much as you might like to imagine it, these folks are not your personal minions.  Be gracious and patient. It’s amazing how much your service will improve if you’re not being a greedy ass.

But, I digress.

I won’t be out shopping on Thanksgiving Day and by some miracle of miracles, all the members of my family have the day off! I have a lot of things to be thankful for this past year and a day spent with all of them enjoying a meal and some after dinner board games is going to be one more of those things.  We’ll have three generations around our table and that’s really what matters the most to me. Now, pass the gravy, please.