"Hanging onto resentment is letting someone you despise live rent-free in your head."-- Ann Landers
Last night when I arrived home, there was a message on my answering machine. (Yes, I still have one of those old-fashioned gadgets and a wall phone). The message was from one of my hubby's sisters, and the message was in Spanish. Immediately, I felt a knot in my stomach and felt my face redden in anger. In a flash, my lovely evening was ruined. Now I was tense...stressed...angry.
Hubby comes from a large family...19 brothers and sisters, no twins. Can you imagine being pregnant all those years? Yikes!!! Well, some of his family I have never met. Out of the some that I have met, most are wonderful,warm people...but there are two sisters...one of whom left that message...who are the most miserable of people on this earth. The speaking in Spanish is nothing new. It's actually done on purpose...it is her way of letting me know that I am not accepted, that I am not a part of...even though hubby and I have been together for 19 years. Is there a reason for this? No. Did I do anything offensive to them? No. In fact, I bent over backwards to make them like me..but, because I have befriended one of the sisters that they can't stand, I've shunned ever since.
I find it ironic that she should call on a day when I posted about letting go. Perhaps it is the universe's way of telling me I had to forgive and let go. You see, I actually thought I had let go many years, but as the anger anger continued to build up it suddenly hit me. I haven't really let it go; all I had done was to put distance between us, not forgiven. The anger had gone underground, Out of sight, out of mind, but the anger was still there...still inside festering...ready to erupt at a moment's notice as it did last night. Gosh, I wonder, is it even possible to forgive?
We all sometimes need to let go of people. During the course of our lives, relationships come and go. Hey, that's the natural flow of life, and for some people, it is easy to move on. But for others, like me, it can be so difficult. I hate to let go...no matter how much someone has hurt me. Perhaps it's because I literally grew up with no family to suddenly find myself in an enormous family...that I wanted all to except me. Is it because of the loneliness I experienced as a child? Is my desire for a family, for sisters so great that I allow others, who obviously don't feel my need, to walk all over me and cause pain. Why is it that I cannot let go?
Have you ever noticed how, whenever we have been hurt by someone, we relive the interaction over and over again and again, all the time only fanning the flames of anger. Sometimes we may resist forgiving because we feel that, in a way, if we do we are condoning the hurtful actions or behaviors of others. What we forget is that forgiving is something we do for ourselves, not for the other. When we lack forgiveness, it is derived from resentment, and resenting a person does nothing to the person we resent, but it always damages us. When you look at the big picture, the person whom you have not forgiven owns you, you are bound to that person by an emotional link. This held true for me last night when I allowed this person to take control of my evening. I allowed her into my space. Forgiving and forgetting are two different situations. What is important is how we release ourselves from a situation that is no longer working for us. By forgiving, we reclaim energy that we had been pouring into keeping alive an old issue. Will I ever learn to forgive her? I don't know. Will I forget? In all honesty, I have to say, "I don't think so."
"Inner peace can be reached only when we practice forgiveness. Forgiveness is letting go of the past, and is therefore the means for correcting our misperceptions."-- Gerald Jampolsky