As we approach the end of the year, I’ve been getting reflective. Specifically, I’ve been giving thanks for all the awesome things that have happened this year, and for being able to watch my kids grow and develop. And, as always, for my incredible OH who stands by me through everything. We didn’t say the standard wedding vows, but if ever a guy knew the meaning of for better or worse, it’s him.
But I’ve also been thinking about the not-so-cutsie, not-so-nice areas of my life. This year, a few people I know have shown their true colours … and, guys, they weren’t beautiful like a rainbow. Some of those people I’ve been able to avoid, but others are too close to home. They are – for better or worse – a part of my life, and I can’t get away from them.
I could fake it, but their constant lies and their duplicity are some of the reasons I find them toxic. Plus, I hate being fake. I spent all summer doing it for the sake of my kids, and I’m so over that now.
I’ve tried to discuss it, but I knew before I began how it would go – denial, defensiveness and casting around to blame somebody else. Talking themselves up, talking everyone else down. Saying beautiful, meaningless words loudly in the hopes that I’ll forget the other words and the actions … which we all know speak louder than the aforementioned.
There’s no point in trying to sort it out like adults. Not when the people concerned behave like selfish children, but will forever insist on speaking to me as if I’m a very stupid little girl. As if I hadn’t been to more places, done more things and seen more – for better or worse – than they ever will.
But it can’t be left to fester. I left it for a while, to gather my strength, I guess, although I didn’t realise it at the time. And then I was strong enough to let it go.
Don’t let the sun go down on your anger. Too many suns had set, and I was still angry, but I was determined not to let the old year end on my anger. I wouldn’t carry those negative feelings forward into 2018. Enough was enough.
I don’t find it easy to let things go. I hold on, I remember. Every word, every slight, every look. It’s not healthy. Some people in my life here are the opposite – they can yell, and dish out judgement, and then ignore me completely … and then a while later, it’s supposed to be OK. Maybe it is, for them – but not for me. You stop speaking to me for three weeks because I miscarried a baby? You never, ever waste an opportunity to make snide comments to me (but never in front of other people, who might defend me)? You blow up and scream at me in front of my children, scaring the crap out of them, because I took 30 seconds out of your life to install a car seat that could save my daughter’s? You may have forgotten about those things now, but I haven’t. Not because I can’t forgive. Because I believe that a person who does those things is not just having a bad day – they are not OK on the inside.
Of course there’s a reason. Projecting dissatisfaction or frustration with their own life, probably – after all, the (stupid) foreign girl makes an easy target, right? Maybe it’s just plain old jealousy. Selfish as it sounds, I really don’t care to find out. Too many words have been said, too many things done over the years to make it right. I couldn’t patch it up, I couldn’t hold on to it – I just had to let go of it.
So I had a conversation. I said – in a mild, sensored way – what I needed to say to make my conscience clear. I listened to a few truths, a few half-truths, and a whole lot of empty words. … And I was free.
It sounds so easy, but I couldn’t do it before. Not just because I was still angry, but because I was blaming myself. I thought I should be able to fix it, I should be able to be liked, to be loved. I was doing something wrong – I was too honest, too foreign, too modern, too … something. Then, in the autumn, I posted this graphic on my Facebook page – because I really did want to let some things go … and I managed most of them, but not this.
Someone commented on the post, I think we tend to believe that everything is down to OUR f*ckups. That really struck a chord with me, because I realised that is exactly what I do believe, although I’d never been conscious of it before. After every run-in, I would get into a state replaying the conversation in my head, thinking about what I should have said or done differently, feeling that somehow the blame lay in my quarter. In actual fact, none of this – the remarks, the treatment of my kids, the whole sticky situation – is my fault.
That’s the truth. And – corny as it sounds – in this case, the truth did set me free.
I have no illusions. The drama will continue, the empty words will continue, the snide remarks and undermining of my character in front of my children will continue. But it won’t touch me now, because I’ve let it go. There is a force field around me of simply not caring. That sounds bad, but maybe it’s healthy. My family – my husband and my kids – are my priority. And after them are the close friends who make up my tribe, my home, our adventures, the world we live in. I’m putting my energy into those areas, and after that I just don’t have enough left to care about some imaginary drama about some imaginary slight, or about somebody trying to make me feel small so they can feel big.
I think there are some things you can’t let go of until you’re ready – like anger and grief. But if you are ready, you should let those things go. You must. Realise that it’s not your fault, and realise that holding on is only causing you more pain.