I was going to do this post yesterday, because it’s always good to start the week off on a good note. But we had a busy day yesterday, including a morning trip to the dentist for Jack, so here it is today. Pretend it’s Monday. Or since it’s always a good time to feel good about yourself, just start now.
I have a lot of people talk to me about confidence. It’s hard a lot of times to feel confident in our decisions and the choices we make. It’s hard to feel confident in our skills. And sometimes it becomes a bit debilitating when we are unable to reconcile the fact that we are capable with the idea that there may be someone who is more capable out there. Or to reconcile the idea that we are not perfect and we will make mistakes with the idea that we should try anyway.
Confidence is something that comes from within. It’s something that tells us we should try. And when it builds up strong enough it turns that should into action, and changes the statement to let’s try. Let’s go for it. When we have that confidence all those worries start to fade. We can feel it build up inside of us, and that little switch that was on the verge of turning on comes to its tipping point. The light switches on and it shines on where we want to go and what we want to try. The other stuff falls aside into the darkness. And in the beginning it just takes a few seconds of seeing that light for us to have the confidence and courage to step into it. We take that first step.
It’s important to remember once we take that step to continue to go back to the light. We have to remember to keep trying, and that takes maintaining confidence. I think one of the main things we do to talk ourselves out of confidence is to look around at others. We look at other people and start to compare. We look at the journey others have taken and start to compare. It was easier for them. They have better connections. They went to school. They had a good job. They have more support. They know more than we do. They look better than we do. They write better than we do. There are a million things and more that we can use to compare ourselves with others and make ourselves fall short.
Everyone is different. We all have a different journey. We all have a path that to someone else looks easier. We all have things about ourselves that don’t match up the way we would like. But we are all capable. Maybe our path is harder, maybe it’s not. Neither one matters. What matters is that we try. What matters is that we go on our journey. We take our chances, and we put in the effort it takes, whatever it is, to accomplish what we have set out to accomplish. We have to be willing to stop comparing in order to maintain our confidence. We have to believe in ourselves and believe in our ability to get to where we are going. We have to believe that we are worthy of going where we want to go, because WE ARE. We have to remember that we are all just people. We all have short comings. We all make mistakes. And we all pass on chances we wish we would have taken. We’ve all had people be mean to us. We’ve all had dreams that haven’t worked out. No one’s life is perfect. So the key to making our own life become the life we want it to be is to focus on ourselves. To remind ourselves each day that we can do what we have set out to do. That everyone has struggled, and we have the capacity to get through it. We are able beings. We just have to take control and keep our confidence. We have the chance to go where we want to go, we just have to keep the confidence to make it through. And that confidence lies in us. It cannot be created nor maintained by any other person. We have to believe in ourselves first. And we should. Because we are worth it.
And I think with each realization, I began to release that fear a little bit more, and a little bit more. I tried it again the next day and the next. Until I finally felt like I was able to really let go of all of the angst that I felt about school and the way things happened when I was younger. I decided it was time to try something bigger.
Figuring out a way to forgive someone who I didn’t know, as my uncle’s murder case had gone on unsolved, was a very hard thing to do. I didn’t know his face or his name. I just knew that in a matter of seconds he sent more fear through me than anyone I had ever met. He took away the most precious gift we have. He was callous and cruel. And forgiving that seemed an impossibility and probably not a necessity. But somewhere in me, I knew that I had to find a way to stop letting fear rule over me.
I honestly don’t know that I have completely let go today, although I feel that I have. I’m fairly sure that since forgiveness like most things is probably a continuous process the fear will reemerge from time to time. But what I was able to do by saying that I was letting go of all of the hurt and fear that you’ve caused me over my life was to take back control of who I wanted to be. I was no longer going to be scared with so much of me stuck in place by the actions of that person. I wasn’t saying what happened was okay. It was not. It was and will always be a horrific, unnecessary act. But letting that act interfere in my life by continuing to worry, hate, and fear was no longer going to happen. My uncle was not living in fear and hate anymore. He is no longer bound by such human emotions. He simply exists in love, and to honor him, I should try my best to, as well.
Maybe it’s easier not knowing who to blame. But there was a time when I would look at everyone and think, “It could have been you.” Or I would refuse to look at anyone, because I was completely unwilling to let anyone in at all. To be in the place I am at now, where I’m no longer afraid to live and look people in the eye is amazing to me, because sometimes I was worried I’d never get here. The place I am at would have never been possible without the option of forgiveness. Forgiveness gave me the means to take my life back. It was able to help me restore my joy and my ability to love. It has truly made all of the difference in the world.
Even when I do have moments where I go back and I feel like I did back then, they are fleeting. I know they won’t last even when I’m experiencing them. That is the most wonderful change of all I think. Living in happiness, feeling worthy of what I have is something I hope I never trade in for fear again.
As for the boy I loved, I forgave him initially a long time ago. Maybe it sounds pretentious and maybe sometimes it didn’t seem true, but the day I asked for the rainbow, I had also asked for forgiveness. I wanted it for me and for him. And my experiences with him are the most prominent reminder I have that those moments of unforgiveness do reoccur, but I always have the capacity to utilize my self-control and refuse to allow any of the things either one of us have done in the past to keep me down.
At my very core, I wish him the best. I want him to believe in himself and to experience all of the wonderful things there are to experience here. And although for a time it felt like it was necessary for me to be there and see those things through with him, I did finally get to a point where it doesn’t matter if I ever know. I don’t want those things because I want to be with him. I want those things because I refuse to be angry and upset with him. That only stifles us both. I want them because he’s worthy of feeling this joy and chasing his dreams, too. With forgiveness I can choose love over fear.
When it comes to forgiving myself, it really is a challenge sometimes. What we have when working internally is the insight that we knew better ahead of time. When I made choices that were not consistent with the things I wanted in my life, it was always hard to feel like I should be forgiven for those choices. But when it came to forgiving myself for putting Jack in the position he is in, that was the hardest thing for me to do. We label someone a liar after only one lie, but how many truths must a person tell to be labeled honest. The negative is just so easy to hold on to.
Sometimes I still go back and note that I really did know ahead of time that I could do things differently. I didn’t have to listen to what the people around me were saying. I didn’t have to listen to what his father was saying. I had the chance to say no. And I didn’t. I gave in. I let go. And I hurt the person whose life I was responsible for. I cried many, many times trying to think of how it could even be conceivable to forgive myself for that. I wasn’t asking Jack to. I knew that was far too much to ask of him. But I also realized that keeping that guilt and holding onto that self-contempt was unhealthy for both of us. We both needed me to be the mom he deserved, and the only way to do that was to choose to let go of that pain.
I had to forgive myself, because holding onto something I couldn’t change was irrational and detrimental to our progress. I was determined to love him. I was determined to be the best mother I could for him. And to do that I had to choose to forgive. Sometimes I do still get a little overwhelmed, but I know how to bring myself back to where I need to be for us both. Back to forgiveness. Back to self-worth.
I promise not to publish such long posts again. But I had a lot of people asking me about forgiveness and if they thought it was real, or if it could truly happen, and I felt it would be good to just go ahead and post the chapter, because it does matter. It does happen. It is real. And it makes all the difference.
Today I went to an art exhibit at the library by my old house. It’s the house I grew up in, and my favorite one that I’ve lived in. I got the chance to bring my son and my nephew over to see the house. We didn’t go inside… the house is currently in the middle of a decision between saving it or tearing it down. There’s a large crack up the back of the house. The windows are broken in a few places, and the gate is gone. But it still looked like home. Which is interesting.
Going back my siblings and I noted how much smaller things looked. I remember the yard looked so big when I was little and the “hill” seemed much more like a hill as a child rather than the slight incline that it apparently is. Who knew!? I will continue to describe it as a hill when I tell people stories, because it’s a lot more interesting to say that my brother sent me down the hill on the skateboard and luckily I fell off before landing in the road into oncoming traffic, but now I have these ugly scars. My brother sent me down a slight incline does not have the same effect.
But as I was noticing how much smaller and conquerable everything seemed, I realized that this is the case with many, many things. In retrospect our problems that seemed huge and insurmountable in the end were overcome. And looking back, it seems a lot smaller a lot of times. The crushes that I had in school, the people who I had to deal with. The decisions I’ve had to make about careers and college and jobs. At the time everything seems so hard, but when I look back, though I still realize the scenery, it doesn’t seem quite so large.
It’s funny the way things like that work. When the pressure is on, the picture gets deluded. The picture skews because there is so much riding on it. And it’s true that there are certainly decisions that warrant the importance that we place on them. We need to care about the things we spend our time doing. But, we also need to remember that there will be a point in time where we look back and see that the problems we are facing have been conquered. The stress wasn’t quite so necessary. The picture is smaller than it seems. There is an answer, and time will go on. We move. We grow. We learn. And sometimes we get to see the true big picture.