"The Art of Letting Go"
*Chapter 2: "Grudges"
Show me who you could have been if things were different...if things were easier, happier, or had started off positive and uplifting. And I’ll show you how much of a difference that would have made if it were so.
All I can say is...learn from the past, grow in the present, & create a better future. Can we have it like this? Or is it too late?”
Because we are made from the same thread, we owe it to ourselves to look inward...find the missing piece to the source of our anger...and examine it. What sets fire to our hearts? What gives us the long lasting anxiety we dread, but can’t control. What has given us such animosity towards the people who raised us...who brought us into this world. I’ll tell you what it could be...false expectations and attachment issues.
Parents...forgive your daughters and sons. Daughters...sons...forgive your parents. Whatever keeps you from making peace with your animosity towards each other...clear it up...scrub it clean with forgiveness and understanding. Understand the most important thing when working out your issues. The fact that we are only human. Just human; a product and example of Earth, and all of it’s ups and downs. Not a superhero. Not a rock star. Not a savior. But just human. Even though these impressive names we give to the special people in our lives make for such a romantic story, it’s just not real. It hinders us in our understanding of each other, and why we do the things we do. Why someone changed for the worst, or why they simply can’t to fix a situation. Why someone can change for the better, and dig themselves out of detrimental holes.
We have to remember, we were not made to be perfect, like how we think “perfect” is. We were made as we are...red blooded, skeletal, and covered in skin. But we were not made to do no wrong. Our imperfections are what make us “perfect”. We were not born with special abilities to make us the ideal person for everyone around us. To be the perfect person 24 7...that’s exhausting and impossible. There is only so much of a person’s own happiness that they can give up before they crack, and make mistakes they can’t take back. Say things they wish they hadn’t in a time of fear, abandonment, loss, etc.
No, we are not perfect, and we shouldn’t expect our parents and children to be either. And what I mean by that, is to think that parents, daughters, and sons, will do no wrong, and will always be what you hoped. That they will be obedient, loving, and caring until the end. No matter what we do. No matter how life attacks them or makes them rise. Life has a way of surprising us...changing us. Letting us know who’s the boss, and in full control. And guess what? No matter how hard we try, it’s not us.
Life is what it is...we are just floating through it...rolling with the changes and doing our best. Because...what else can we do, but live & survive the best way we know how.
I’ve been thinking about the subject of grudges between parents and their offspring for a long time now. I simply wanted to understand where the feelings of animosity came from...where they reside and why. I came to these thoughts from my own experience with animosity towards my parents. I mean, who didn’t. Every one had a certain amount of dislike for their parents once upon a time. And some of us are still holding the grudge we created in our youth. And I can understand why.
It’s easier, isn’t it? It’s easier to feel a certain type of hate for the people who did things to you that were unkind, unloving, too tough, extreme, unforgivable. Instead of treating the problem, we would rather like it grow and fester into an atomic bomb that sleeps quietly for years until it blows under too much pressure. But the fault is in us...as human beings. And the assumption that our parents were supposed to be perfect. Do everything we asked of them, and be our “super-heroes” til death. We are under the assumption that once they became parents, they were supposed to be the best parents...the perfect image of someone loving and caring who knew it all, and could take care of any problem. But these assumptions are exactly where the resentment lies when we feel our parents didn’t do their due diligence. And maybe it’s because people really don’t think it through before having children...they just have them and hope for the best. Or maybe it’s because we expect too much from the people who raised us, and we expect too little from ourselves. Maybe we cling to our parents for full support in every situation, not understanding that they have their own life to live to. They are still human. They have their own desires, likes, dislikes, dreams, ambitions, hopes, faith, discipline...their own type of love. Yes they became parents, but that didn’t mean they became perfect beings at the time of your birth. It’s not up to them to be perfect. They can only do their best.
Parenting is not easy, it’s a huge sacrifice that’s hard to swallow. The ends and outs of being a parent, and still taking care of your own life are hard. Nothing to take advantage of. I think we haven’t truly taken the time to realize this. Yes, growing up is hard, and becoming an adult without the right amount of guidance is even harder, but let’s also think about the stress and anxiety a parent carries every day while raising a child. Yes, parenthood makes them happy, but when the going gets tough, it gets really tough.
Some people will push back...crack and fall apart. And some people will push forward with the desire to never give up. To never stop learning and growing, so they can be a better parent. So they can be a better person. But the responsibility to nurture someone and teach them everything you know and more is a large undertaking, even for someone who has great parenting skills. They watch their child grow, wanting to give them everything they need to succeed, but sometimes, they just can’t do it all. And just like sons and daughters make stupid mistakes in life that they regret, parents make similar mistakes too.
At the time, they meant well, or thought it was the right thing to do. But their children who resent them, obviously thought another way. It’s not that they think they can do better they just really wanted their parents to BE better. In some cases, to be honest, they wanted more than their parents could give.
Yes, it’s our parents job to raise us. Especially when we are very young and can not take care of ourselves. But they can’t take care of us the way we want for the rest of our lives. Once we reach adulthood, we should have some capability to fend for ourselves in some way. We should be able to take on our own battles and live on our own terms. A parent can hope and dream a million things for their children, but is that the life they were destined to have? Is that the life they even want? Would they still be their true self if they followed every command their parents gave them on how to live their life? Maybe...maybe not.
You hear so many parents say “I just want what's best for you.” when coaching their sons and daughters. But I'm here to say, this isn’t always true. But the phrase has been romanticized for ages and ages. To make us think that we should follow our parents desires because they are what...our commander? And we are their soldiers? Even if a parent knows their child well, which many parents don’t, they can not know or understand where life is leading their children completely.
A mother who owns a million-dollar business in clothing design could want her son to take on her business and see it through simply because that’s her son. But does that decision make him happy? When every night he falls asleep dreaming of being a pilot, but can’t tell his mother as she will be disappointed and betrayed that he really doesn't want to take on the business himself. Is it his fault that he wants to live his life on his own terms? What he feels in his heart he is meant to do? He is his own person, and once he reaches adulthood, he should be able to make decisions for himself. Because even though his mother may know him, she doesn’t know him like he knows himself. And that’s ok. Because even if her son wanted to work as a struggling artist, a teacher, a swim instructor, or even a janitor, as long as he is living his life happy and in peace, that’s all that matters.
A middle-aged woman has lived her life with bad luck in love and relationships, as she carries resentment towards her father for turning a blind eye to her being molested as a child by her father’s old friend. She spent most of her life avoiding spending too much time at home, with her parents, because of the weight of animosity she carries. The fear of telling them and how they would react consumes her. And she worries if they will even believe her. So she has failed relationship after failed relationship because she keeps dark secrets she could let herself be free of by just forgiving. Forgiving herself first for what happened; as it wasn’t her fault. And to forgive her father for not helping her when she needed it. For being a coward and not confronting his friend and stopping the tragic cycle. Because forgiving her father and herself is how she will heal...it’s how she can win. Win at life. Win over her depressing thoughts and daily sorrow. No one wants to live a grim life in the shadow of despair. When life comes to an overwhelming halt, and there is nothing else to do...nowhere else to run, you have to let go. Make peace with your past, and create your own positive future.
A girl's mother abandoned her as a baby, and gave her away to a loving family that adopted them. The girl never knew her real mother. But she carries the heavy weight of anger and loneliness because she feels like her mother didn’t want her, so she gave her up without giving parenthood a chance. Nobody wants to feel unwanted. And what a dark feeling it is to not know your birth parents and live in the wonderment of why they left you and why they didn’t come find you. But knowing all this, and living a life of sadness isn’t worth it. So...forgive her. She probably made the smartest choice she could at the time, and there are so many things she may not have experienced if she hadn’t done it. She might even live with the pain of leaving her daughter behind every day, even though she felt she had to. Forgive her, let the anger go, and move on. So you can be happy and free of darkness.
A man spent his whole life never getting along with his father; a successful businessman who plots and schemes to get what he wants without caring about how others make it out. This man resents his father and his evil ways because he values honesty and loyalty. Being a good person in life is important to him, and he doesn’t understand how his father is even HIS father. He has yet to have an honest and loving relationship with his father as he is a tyrant and he only cares about himself. But knowing his father is a terrible person, and gets off on power, still, instead of living life in anger...forgive him. He may have been raised to plot and scheme to get what he wants and that’s all he knows. He may have such a large fear of failure and living a simple life, that he feels he has to have power to live happy and feel complete. Forgive him for not knowing any better, he does not see how his evil ways affect people, but more importantly, his own son. All he can do is live his life honest and true, with good morals. Because he knows better, so he can do better.
Your mother beat you continuously on a weekly basis when you didn’t clean your room right, say hello to her husband when you entered the room, made a B on your report card, or just didn’t smile enough. Now you’re older, and you know exactly what you don’t want to do to your son or daughter. Keep that. You know better, so you can do better. And then...forgive her. She was angry back then, and didn’t know how to deal. She took her anger at life out on you, and that wasn’t right, and she knows it. But even if she never admits to it, and says she’s sorry, it’s your job, your duty to your conscience, to forgive her. Forgive yourself for ever feeling unworthy, ungrateful, or helpless. You wanted her to be something she couldn’t be for you. She couldn’t put her struggles to the side to make sure she was a good parent for you, and you hate her for it. But hate is a burden you don’t need to carry. It will imprison you, and make you bitter. Let it go, and live in peace.
A daughter grows up without a solid father figure as her mother continues to date and marry bad men. She watches her mother suffer for years and years while she searches for some kind of acceptance from men. While she is treated poorly and taken advantage of, her daughter starts to create her own idea of what marriage really is, and how evil men can be. How vulnerable women are if they don’t see their true worth and learn to take care of themselves. And because her father was worthless, and the replacements were only there for the heck of it, she was never taught on how a man should treat and love a woman. She was never taught on how men are period. Her mother gave her some advice, but there was only so much she could say. So the daughter goes on living her life as a zombie to misplaced love, both from her father and her mother, as her mother was more concerned with finding love and help herself, than the well-being of her daughter and the feeling of neglect she felt. So both of them continue to look for love in all the wrong places, as they don’t know any better; but one day, the cycle will end. As long as the bond between them starts to grow. If her mother only apologized for not knowing any better herself, and apologized for the neglect, things would be different. More conversations should have been had to explain what was really going on...but the whirlwind of life and pride erased those ideas of conversations that could have been had to fix broken promises, fake love, and false ideas.
The bottom line is...we are a product of our parents. We have pieces of them within us. Some traits we have that are positive or negative, come from our parents. Who should not be seen as “perfect” people. They should not act like they can and will be perfect for us either. They can only do their best, as a human being. And we have to understand that. Just as parents have to accept that their children are not obligated to be everything they want. They all have their own path. Their own life to live. It should bring a parent joy to have their children find a happy life of their own. Not live under mommy or daddy's thumb, in fear of disappointing them when making a decision that will benefit them.
Life is hard...it’s so hard...and unfair. Forgive each other and let go of old grudges. Parents, life is short...you don’t want to wake up one day and your son or daughter never wants to speak to you again because of a grudge you hold with them for something long ago. They are still your child...and they are still living. Love them, understand them, and let them live. Sons and daughters, forgive your parents. They only tried to do what was best for you and for them. You will never know or understand the sacrifices they made to be a parent for you and stay sane at the same time. Everyone has their demons they struggle to fight. Some people just hide it better than others. But we are all the same. We are all living the life of imperfection and the pursuit of happiness. That’s all we can do.
Learn from the past, grow in the present, & create a better future. Let’s learn from our traumatizing pasts...now we know what we don’t want, and what we can do better. Let’s grow in the present. Think about what we can do to chase away the bad spirits that haunt us so we can be a better person. So we can learn how to problem solve, rather than hold things in a box and let it grow into a grudge. Let’s create a better future for ourselves and our children by talking more...apologizing, listening more, and understanding. Let’s start coming from a place of vulnerability when we speak to each other. Not hostility and blame.
Parents HAVE TO learn how to speak to their children. This is a big problem. Communication is often lost between a parent and their child, and many parents don’t have the patience to find the right way to explain things to their children. But here is the solution...just talk to them...be real...be honest...let them know how much you love them, and that sometimes you will have to show them tough love to make them a better person, not to break their spirit. But make sure it’s constructive tough love that they will benefit from in a positive manner. The bad times children have with their parents are remembered for the rest of their life. They will carry it with them, and it will affect how they deal with people and certain situations. Like problem solving, abandonment issues, and control issues. Ask them questions about how they feel and what hurts them and makes them feel unloved or unwanted. Stop speaking to your children as if they are at the top of the ignorant, stupid, and lazy chain. TALK TO THEM with respect to their age, their situation, their lack of understanding, as they can’t help it. And neither could you at their age. They don’t know what they don’t know. Just like you. Talk to them about why you made the decisions you made. Tell them that you are sorry if you were ever selfish and unreliable when you were raising them.
“Sorry”…”I’m so sorry”...the word “sorry is such an underrated powerful word. I don’t think enough people realize that so many things can be fixed by just saying you're sorry. But you have to mean it when you say it. And sorry is only valuable when changed behavior is attached to it. Phrases like “I forgive you.”, “I didn’t mean to hurt you...to leave you.”, and “Please forgive me. I didn’t know any better.” These are powerful phrases. They could end a lifetime of turmoil and agony towards the soul. They can open new doors to rebuild relationships...honest ones. Pride can not be in the way when apologizing and ending a life-long grudge. There is no room for it. Grudges end with forgiveness. So forgive them. If not for them, forgive them for YOU. So you can move on and release the burdens. Forgive them for being right. Forgive them for being wrong. Forgive them for not understanding, forgive them for being overwhelming. Forgive them for not treating you as a person when they were angry. For being misleading, irresponsible, and unreliable. Forgive them for being defiant, reckless, and impatient. Forgive them for taking advantage of you, and leaning on you for the wrong reasons. Forgive them for pushing guilt on you that couldn’t be shaken. Sons and daughters, forgive your mother’s and father’s for not knowing how to be a parent, until they learned how to be a parent. Forgive them for forcing you to be someone you’re not, just to make them comfortable. Forgive your parents for not being the full heroes you wished them to be. Forgive them for leaving you all alone to fend for yourself...teaching you that you don’t need anyone to survive. Forgive them for being lazy or ignorant. Forgive them for being racist, sexist, or homophobic. For not loving you all the way, for who you really are. Parents, forgive your sons and daughters for not being who you wanted them to be, but ultimately becoming so much more.
“So you finally want to play the part of the “loving parent”...the one I could’ve confided in...someone I could trust. Wow...what a revelation...I thought it could never be so, but here we are...playing catch up.
But as much as we want to go backwards...and make up for lost time and hurtful mistakes...that ship has sailed. It’s no longer at the harbor of redo, take-back, and change. The journey is new, and for good reason…
You see, we can never go back...back to that dark, defeated place of grim skies and bad energy. That unforgettable state of frozen negative thoughts, envy, and resentment. No, we can’t go back, just to make it right. Because in the end, it was supposed to happen. Life happened. Just the way it was supposed to. It’s in the past, and there it should remain. But that’s okay, it was meant to stay there, so we can create something new, meaningful, and honest.
And even though there are many apologies to be made...maybe it’s easier to just start new with the intent to do better….A high desire to be better, and make up for our mistakes.