Wednesday, March 28, 2007

did someone say 'blog'?

Why the internet is cool.

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Congrats to Dre who made it through her very first 3 day cleanse! Dink! I can't say it wasn't painful for us both. Several times I begged her to quit as she tried to convince me that sashimi should be included, as should coffee, soy milk creamer, and, my personal favorite -- the bag of vegan cookies she brought home on Day One. It turns out she just likes complaining (her words, but I concur) and had every intention of making it through. Next up? Colonics. Pray to baby jesus she doesn't read this.

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I put a new Gandhi quote up today:
When somebody utters a lie before me, I get more angry with myself than with him because I then realize that untruth still exists somewhere deep within me.
This is why Gandhi's such a badass. (Present tense intended.) Well, one of the reasons. As the recipient of a lie, it can be really tempting to feel betrayed and make the liar wrong. Indeed, she IS responsible for her own actions. And yet, Gandhi's assertion -- that the recipient must, in some way, be holding space for untruth -- reminds me that I still have a ways to go on my mission to follow truth. Oddly, I feel happy -- because at least now I'm aware, and that's where growth can happen.

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My friend recently found out his estranged mother has terminal cancer. A) Cancer blows. B) Mom having cancer *really* blows. C) (Mom + cancer) + estranged = Therapy. I haven't had a parent w/ cancer, but I get the estranged part and it's no picnic. My dad and I didn't talk for about five years. I spent years - decades, really - being pissed and feeling bitter about his imperfections. Naturally I sought out and found agreement in every therapist and friend I told. Yep. He was wrong.

Then, a couple of years ago I met this pastor/meditation teacher at a yoga workshop. I had been introduced to him after one of the sessions. He and I were talking casually and out of nowhere he turned to me and said: "You got anger." At first I was shocked by it, being all non-sequitur-y and all, and so I looked around thinking he must be talking to someone else. Nope. He caught my avoidance and repeated himself: "You got anger. You got anger towards your parents and you gotta learn to forgive." I laughed, because that's what I do when things get uncomfortable and boy, did someone build a bonfire in here or something?? The abridged version is that conversations ensued, and thank God -- that was the first time someone had ever told me that I was responsible for my own anger. The teacher didn't absolve my dad of his mistakes but he did explain that parents do the best they can with what they've been given, and if you want to not be like them, then you have to learn to forgive both them and yourself. Myself? Huh?! Yeah. Turns out, you have to drop the righteous indignance if you want to drop the pain that is ultimately beneath the anger. In this way, forgiveness is for you, not your transgressor.

Anyway, so I called my dad to talk, and ask for forgiveness for holding anger towards him. (I should disclose that I didn't call right away -- it took me a few months till I felt sincerity.) We started out bumpy; eventually it rounded the corner into a sweet conversation and I thought -- Yes! Case closed. Except then we didn't talk for another year, neither of us making the effort, and those feelings came up again. And you know what? I've cleaned it up with my dad prob three or four times since that initial effort. It'd be nice to think that once you deal w/ something it's done and over w/. Rats that it doesn't always work like that. Even now, my dad and I still do not talk that often, but finally! it's not because I hold any residual bitterness that I'm aware of. Forgiving yourself and your parent doesn't mean instant camaraderie. It doesn't mean painful things didn't happen in the past. It does mean that you're no longer bound by your anger. It means that you see those things that once stung with the eye of an observer. It means you stop wishing they were different. Their actions were no more theirs, than your faults are really yours. It means that now you can start to form healthy relationships with others because you've healed one of the most significant relationships you'll ever have. (If you think you can before this work is done, you're kidding yourself.) And at the end of the day, the forgiveness that you extend to others you also get to keep. And that's a pretty sweet trade.

2 comments:

Patrice said...

vanessa: thank you for writing this--it's so what i needed to hear right now...Namaste:)

King said...

We are conditioned to (unconsciously) assume that if we can just figure out what we are supposed to do, and then do it, then we can get to that place where everything is fixed and okay from now on. There's got to be a secret formula, right?