Posted by: innerpilgrimage | September 7, 2010

For Today, Forgiving For Giving

      My parents sent my husband a gift for his birthday. Or rather, what appears to be a re-gift. One we bought for them in 2001.

      This wouldn’t be a problem except that it was a boxed set of tea and accoutrements. The tea biscuits expired in 2004. The tea expired in 2005. We’re using the tea, since it seems okay, but I am offended and it has triggered the Hell out of me. I was so mad, upset that they would do something like this. My mother even apparently sent my husband an emailed response saying something like that they went out of their way to get it. And all I keep thinking is that they found the box which we had gone out of our way to get it for them and that they found it collecting dust somewhere and didn’t even look to see if it had expired.
      As I drove, I considered this relationship I was hoping to re-establish. My parents are still unwell in a way that I can’t have in my life. Through this agitation, I have to accept several important realities. One: I feared that I was fast-tracking to become like them. Two: I feared that I was being bad for not wanting to be around them. Three: I have to grieve the relationship then move on. I held on to the fat feelings, the self-hatred, the worry that I am not perfect enough to face them. Four: I don’t want to forgive them, and I am unwilling to do so because they hurt the people I love. On purpose or accidentally, the sincerity of their efforts does not feel genuine. While stuck in this, I had a moment of clarity.
      In that clear time, I came to several important awarenesses. I am not going to be like them because I am working 12-Step programs. Even working it imperfectly as I do, I am still in program. As long as I am using the tools and trying to maintain abstinence and trying to connect to a Higher Power for guidance, I cannot end up like them. Living outside the addiction even part-time has changed me. This has strengthened my commitment to recovery even more. I can break free of the addict-life cycle. I accept that I hate what I’ve come from sometimes, what I’ve done, and what I still do sometimes. I accept that I fear becoming my parents. As long as I am working toward living daily spiritual recovery promised in Step Twelve, I can’t be like that. Honest dealings and real concern for others is part of that. Not worrying about what I “look like” to others is part of that because I know that if I deal honestly and have real concern, I won’t be trying to cover and impress others in order to find acceptance. If people cannot accept me if I deal honestly and compassionately with them, it’s not me.
      I had to understand, then, that any person who exhibits the kind of behavior that triggers me needs to be avoided. This, of course, is frustrating. It means I am not ready to do it. When I can forgive them willingly, I can learn to deal with them with politeness. Causing harm by verbally attacking them doesn’t help anyone. It triggers them; it triggers me. That’s not kind to my recovering self, to put myself into a position to lose abstinence. I am allowed to not let unsafe people in, to keep them outside of my boundaries and to establish them more firmly.
      I do not want to forgive them the slight. I desperately want to know why. I want to understand.
      In comes For Today and Voices of Recovery for today’s message from my Higher Power about the problem I am facing that is triggering me. I need to show mercy. Condemnation of my parents is not merciful. I don’t know their lives and troubles in detail, nor can I conceive of what happened to them to make them do what they do. Just as I have to learn to ask myself and others for forgiveness, I have to learn to actively forgive myself and others. I have to forgive them this perceived slight. It doesn’t matter if it was ignorance or malice. I have to forgive them. And that is where the 12 Steps and surrendering to my Higher Power comes in. For my sanity, I have to work recovery to the best of my ability. And I want to.
      The other day’s writing pinpointed the reality of it–there have been times when I have asked for what I needed and the people closest to me went out of their way to make sure I did not get it. I wanted to feel valued. I wanted to feel thought of, special, worth even a little effort. And it extends to the people I love. If the people who were once close to me couldn’t be bothered to show me that respect, could they at least not harm people I considered innocent in this? I fault myself (reasonably or not) that I did not keep them at the gate, not letting them into my life. I felt happy that they showed kindness toward my husband, I felt a little jealous that they often did not show it to me and I resented my husband (that I know was addict-minded–blame someone who did nothing, who did not ask for it at all? That’s insanity.), and now I feel guilt and self-loathing because I resented the innocent person because the people I wanted to accept and love me appeared to still keep me out–dangling hope to get their approval and their forgiveness. It’s not gonna happen. This is the same-old, same-old. This is the pattern. I know this pattern. I can’t live this pattern and live in recovery at the same time.
      Some character defects I am showing are resentment and lack of willingness to forgive. So, I need to look at the associated character assets then work to adopt them so I can find recovery.
      My name is Jess, and I am a food addict. I am learning a lot while reading the literature. I didn’t go to my meeting last night because I “just didn’t want to”, but I am ready to go to my home group on Wednesday. Whether or not I share at that meeting, I am ready.

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