And it's making me write a letter to myself. In a way. I refuse to write an "open letter" to myself. I mean, that's so 2013. But basically all the rest of this post is a reminder for me. So if it sounds preachy, it's because I am preaching at myself.
Grieving the living is so hard. I have a short list of those that I grieve. All at different stages . Elisabeth Kübler-Ross would have interesting things to say about this. It's painful. Some of it is still pretty raw and new. Some have seen the passage of time and blossomed again. Some didn't. Some can't.
So my plan this year is to forgive myself the reasons I blame myself for. And to show myself a little mercy, too. And I resolve to do the same for those relationships that I grieve.
Years ago I was struggling to make sense of losing a dear friend in one of the crappiest ways. There was hurt, anger and pain all right there bubbled up and covering my surface and inescapable. It was ugly. I was depressed and broken. I couldn't resolve my feelings. I couldn't get through to the other side of it. I clenched my fist around a self-righteous anger and refused to let it go. On the outside I was "tough" and "so strong". On the inside I was disintegrating.
I sat alone at church on a Sunday morning about two years later. Still struggling. Still vulnerable. Still angry. Still very much disintegrating. I looked down at the topic of the coming sermon and exhaled. I very clearly remember thinking, "Yeah, this might be good for me. Glad I didn't sleep in".
My heart spilled open as I listened to our minister give a sermon on forgiveness and mercy. Forgiveness for others and for yourself. Mercy for others and for yourself. In a nutshell she offered that when relationships end badly, we should use great caution before cutting people out. She offered that this was because when we burn up a relationship based on an angry/sad/confusing or otherwise crushing event, the human in us self-preserves as an act of instinct and burns off the pain. We cut the anger off at the legs by keeping the sadness close like armor to remind us to never be hurt again. We block. We slash and burn. So many times we never look back. WE do this to try and save our hearts.
But when we do this, we are not protecting ourselves at all. When we wall off our hearts we become less than who we actually are. We are instead damaging ourselves and calling it protection. We are that much more suspicious, afraid and closed. That's how the monster of separation grows and the idea of Us and Them is born. That is how we stay alone. That is how we stop living.
I offer to myself this New Year that forgiving and showing mercy, for them and for us, is liberating. It will clear the way for me to remember the reasons we build relationships in the first place. When we forgive and let go, we honor the reasons that love and friendship happened those years ago. We honor the good that was created by having known and been a part of each other's lives. We remember it instead of trying to erase it as though it never happened. Even if circumstances led to what feels like too much time and distance between. Even if that relationship can no longer grow because of all the reasons complicated and human and messy. Even if you will never be able to be in the same room again. Even when it ends badly, we protect our hearts better by remembering that there was once love and that it was a good thing. We protect our hearts by remembering that it mattered no matter how it ended.
Forgiving and choosing to not be angry but to instead remember the person for what made you love them to begin with, is an act of mercy for your own heart and opens us up to the present. It allows us to smile at the past and remember the love, the good and the life that was lived. It helps us to love better in the future. Both others and ourselves.
Commence letting go....I'm ready 2014. Let's do this.
Last year Jenna over at Stop, Drop and Blog talked about focusing on ONE word for the new year. I loved this idea so much. I have chosen my word for 2014. My word is: Release.