Saturday, June 19

Letting Go - Moving On

I stood in the center of the driveway, defiantly. We locked eyes, her behind the wheel of her car, me, in too tight jeans and top, bursting with the kind of rage only a desperately hurting, motherless 14 year old girl could summon. She angrily honked the horn and began to move forward, and I glared before sulking out of her way. She'd already won anyway. She was my dad's new girlfriend, and even though I was young, I knew this was more serious than the string of other women he'd dated...and this one didn't try to pretend she liked me. She was different than the others.

About a year later, the house I'd grown up in was for sale, and my belongings thrown into garbage bags in the back of my dad's pickup truck. He asked me where I wanted to be dropped off. I was being evicted at 15 years old.

Just like my mom had seen me as disposable 3 years earlier, so now had I become the throwaway kid to my dad. I mean, what choice did he have? He was about to marry a woman who disliked me from the first meeting in the driveway.

Don't feel sorry for me yet. I was a full blown drug addict. A little bit of whatever, mostly cocaine. I weighed about 85 pounds and kept company with a 27 year old drug dealer who drove a Harley. I guess my dad had liked him well enough though, since once when "Billy" had come to pick me up, it had just started raining, and my dad tossed his car keys to him, telling him we needed to stay dry. As if me getting wet was all he should have worried about. "Billy" introduced me to freebasing coke that night, so now I had a faster way to kill myself than merely snorting lines. He also made me feel beautiful, the way he loved taking photos of me.

I was so incredibly lost.

When I find myself feeling old resentments popping up from so many years ago, I try to keep in mind a quote from Maya Angelou; "I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better." I know that my mom apologized to me, several years before her death, and I know my dad wishes he could have handled the situation better, but they did what they knew to do at the time.

I've spent the last 25+ years trying to "take back" the bad impression I made on the woman who became my stepmom, but most of the time, she still seems to see me as the angry 14 year girl defiantly standing in the driveway. I did then what I knew to do...
I know better now...but some people never forget, or forgive, and that's ok. Every now and then there's a glimpse of the relationship we could have had, and it brings me both joy and pain. We all want to be loved, especially by those we call 'family'.
Sometimes though, we have to just accept that there will be people who won't forgive us for a wrong, whether real or imagined. I've done all I can to ensure that her dislike for me is no longer justified, but I fear it will never be enough, and I've had to put down that burden.

I say it often because it's worth repeating: Life is too short, sweet,and precious to hang onto anger and resentment. We need to release those heavy loads so we can spryly move forward. Is it difficult to let go? Sometimes, yes-- and every now and then you'll find that somewhere along the road, you've unwittingly picked that burden back up and it's weighing you down. You may have to drop it several times before you lose it for good. Try to remember that forgiveness is primarily for our own sake, so we no longer carry the burden of resentment, and forgiving does not mean we will continue to allow injustice.

I share my experiences hoping it helps someone else, and because it helps me to appreciate the life I have now that much more.


Tweet said...

Thanks for commenting on my blog :) Not sure how you came my way, but I'm glad you did. I've read a few of your posts and I'm happy I had some extra time this morning (especially the Coconut Cupcakes entry!!!). Seriously, this particular entry was very insightful and was especially touching for me today. I DO know better and I'm going to go forth today and BE better. Thanks!!

Michele Chastain said...

Thank you for this comment. I appreciate it so much. :)

jenny_o said...

I like the way you look at both sides of the forgiveness picture - those who need to forgive us, and those who we need to forgive. It's especially hard when someone's failure to forgive us is the very cause of our need to forgive that SAME person.

Your post on this has helped me with a recent incident in my family, so I thank you. I knew the basic concept already (people generally do the best they can with the knowledge they have at the time), but something "clicked" when I read your full post.

(Also, glad to have that quote from Maya Angelou)