I’ve been thinking a lot lately, and re-evaluating some of the decisions I have made. I find, as I get older, I find it more and more difficult to hang on to anger and regret. As a teenager, I was angry at everyone who was not a part of my circle of friends, and I went out of my way to plant frustration and discontent in the relationship between my parents and I. I reveled in saying what I wanted, when I wanted, and damn the consequences.
I had virtually no relationship with my father for most of my teen years. He worked a lot, which I interpreted as abandonment of our family. My mother worked all the time, as a Certified Nursing Assistant, third shift. She was also enrolled in nursing school, so she was always tired or sleeping or gone. I was responsible for starting or fixing dinner, looking after my younger siblings in the evenings, helping with homework or a bath before bedtime, and my 15-year old self saw this is the ultimate sacrifice, as though I was “practically raising my brothers and sister”.
It wasn’t until much later that I realized the obvious, that fathers and mothers must work in order to pay bills and rent. I didn’t see that my mother was sacrificing all in order to get her nursing license and be better equipped to make ends meet. I realized only in hindsight that my selfish teenage antics put a huge burden on my already struggling parents and their finances.
When I was 21, pregnant with my first child, I grew tired of being angry. I made peace with the perceived wrongs in my past and I apologized to my mother for my numerous bad choices. I forged a tenuous relationship with my father, based largely on our mutual decision to not discuss those things that we would never agree on or remember the same way. New beginnings all around.
After my marriage disintegrated, I fell in with a band of my younger brother’s friends and became very close to them. We went to bars, dinner, movies, drinking, partying, made birthday cakes, celebrated holidays, went on vacations together and lived in and out of each homes. We had the best of times, and in the end, the worst of times.
I have held onto the anger and betrayal that I felt from these friends, for three years. They are still close to my brother, and I have avoided many an event because they would be present. I didn’t feel like putting myself through the stress and anxiety of their presence.
My niece’s first birthday is approaching. These people will be at her party, and I will be too. I am a different person than I was three years ago, changed in enough ways that I am only a derivative work now, a translation that kept the best parts and removed the worst parts. I am an adult now, and I am tired of being angry. I have forgiven them for the injustice that I feel I was dealt, and I hope they have forgiven me as well.
It certainly feels better, more free and less stressful, to forgive.