R is for Reconciliation

R is for Reconciliation

Reconcile (verb)= to restore to friendship, compatibility, or harmony

Reconciliation (noun)=  the action of reconciling or state of being reconciled

Source: Merriam-Webster Unabridged

The practice of peace and reconciliation is one of the most vital and artistic of human actions.
~Nhat Hanh

The overall purpose of human communication is – or should be – reconciliation. It should ultimately serve to lower or remove the walls of misunderstanding which unduly separate us human beings, one from another.
~M. Scott Peck, The Different Drum: Community Making and Peace

Chimps are very quick to have a sudden fight or aggressive episode, but they’re equally as good at reconciliation.
~Jane Goodall

I is for Impetuous

I is for Impetuous

I try to be honest with myself when it comes to my own faults and shortcomings. For the most part, I am an easygoing, patient person, but there have been times when I’ve reacted out of anger, fear, or pain. Usually these incidences occur 1896728_10152770251447776_3104906129677324187_nwhen I’m overly stressed, overly tired, or feeling insecure.

Impetuous means to react hastily and passionately; usually these reactions have negative results. I recently found myself in a situation where my impetuousness ended with losing someone I considered a good friend. It all started over something so stupid. Emotions got involved and I reacted too quickly out of pain and insecurity. And yes, anger.

I honestly thought it would blow over and we would be able to work things out. I wasn’t the only one at fault in this situation, but it doesn’t matter. Reacting emotionally and quickly—being impetuous—cost me a friend. I’ve admitted my blame in the matter and sincerely apologized, but unfortunately the damage was done.

Good has come out of the situation, as it usually does when life’s circumstances are difficult. I won’t share what the “good” was, as it’s rather personal. I’m sorry it happened and wish I could go back and do things differently, but I wouldn’t change the lessons learned and the good that resulted from it.

Can I say I’ll never act impetuously again? No. I cannot promise that… like most people, I’m human. Will the sting of losing a friend make me think twice before I react out of fear, pain, or anger next time I’m in a similar situation? I think so. I hope so.

Language, the Source of Misunderstanding

Featured imageAs far back as I can remember, I have hated being misunderstood—especially when that misunderstanding ends up making somebody feel bad. My earliest memory of this happening was from when I was probably four or five. I don’t remember the details, but it must have been one of those rare occasions when my brother and I weren’t at each other’s throats. I think I gave him a piece of my candy or something like that. I remember him saying, “Thank you.” I was feeling very generous and in my mind, I didn’t want him to feel like he had to thank me. I tried to express this by saying, “You’re not welcome.”

To my surprise, he immediately became upset and told my mom that I was being rude. I obviously didn’t understand the whole idea of saying “you’re welcome” to someone. I figured it was an obligatory answer you just said when someone said thanks. I remember so clearly how sad it made me that he thought I was being mean… especially since I was trying to be nice. I tried to explain to him what I meant and he wouldn’t hear it.

It wouldn’t be the last time I was misunderstood this way. We wouldn’t be human if such misunderstandings didn’t occur from time to time.

What I think sets some of us apart, however, is how we respond to being misunderstood this way. When I care about someone, I hurt when they hurt. To think I may be the cause of this pain is like a stab to the heart. I don’t know how to feel any other way. I can’t turn off being empathetic or sensitive.

Recently, an incident occurred that reminds me a lot of what happened with my brother. There was a third party involved who I felt misunderstood something I said and I needed to know if I owed an explanation to a friend concerning what I meant. I should have just let it go because the more I tried to understand how my words may have been interpreted, the worse things got with this third party. It all just went downhill; the misunderstanding only grew. We both ended up angry and upset.

Long story short, I lost someone who I considered to be a good friend and the friendship of another person who I liked. Interestingly enough, the friend I was so worried about hurting was fine and we are still friends.

I’m not going to claim to be innocent in the whole matter. I’m not claiming to have handled things perfectly. I’m an impulsive person; some things hurt deeply and I react too quickly. Sometimes there are other things going on in my life that may influence how I react.

I am hard on myself, but the one thing I can say is I am someone who can own up to my faults. I forgive quickly. I don’t hold grudges. I have no problem apologizing for my actions when necessary… and I have.

So, what can I learn from all this?

To slow down. To know when I’m not in the frame of mind to interact with others when there is a chance for misunderstanding. To not involve third parties or fourth parties or fifth parties…

I’ve also learned who my real friends are. I’ve learned that just because I see life as too short and friendships as too important to let a misunderstanding come between us, not everyone thinks the same way. I’ve learned that I can apologize but not necessarily receive forgiveness. I’m understanding that just because I am willing to own up to my faults, that doesn’t mean others will do the same.

Now I’m moving on.  I’m saving my tears, pain, and guilt for people and circumstances worthy of it.

My dad dying? Definitely worthy of my tears.

Losing the job I loved? What kind of person would I be if that didn’t hurt?

The guilt that tries to choke me daily concerning whether I’m doing enough for my son who I’m certain has Aspbergers? While somewhat irrational, it’s worthy of my  concern.

The opinion of people I’ve never really met and whether or not they care about me? Not worth it. So not worth it.

Looking back, I can see these people were not my friends. They are actually the self-proclaimed leaders of something equivalent to a high school clique and everything that goes with it. I’ve never been very fond of cliques and certainly never fit into any. I’m okay with that.

I wish them well. And that is all.

Through a Mirror Darkly

My First Independently Published Book & Why I Wrote It

Through a Mirror Darkly is a short story I wrote under my pen name a couple months ago. I self-published it last month through Amazon. I wrote it originally for an anthology that was published this month. It has been categorized as a horror story, but it’s more than that.

When I think of horror stories, I think of crazy, knife-carrying clowns with fangs chasing a group of horny teenagers at a deserted camp. Through a Mirror Darkly has a paranormal element to it, but it’s also very loosely based on my own experiences with familial and personal depression.

When I wrote it, I didn’t think it would end up being therapeutic for me, but it was. I never had a chance to say goodbye to my mom when she died. I hadn’t seen her in over 35 years. After my parents separated, she tried to kill herself. I was barely seven when I heard her crying out from the other room. To this day, the memory of finding my mom on the floor, begging for help wrenches my heart.

After that, my dad got custody of my brother, sisters, and me. She was eventually released from the hospital and given visitation rights every other weekend. Despite her therapies and medications, she was not emotionally healthy and tried a few more times to take her own life.

Eventually, she stopped coming to pick us up for our weekends. The last time I saw her, I was nine years old. I never really missed her… maybe because her withdrawal from our lives was so gradual. Maybe it was because I was such a daddy’s girl. The only thing I was ever angry about was having to find her the first time she attempted suicide. More than anything, I hated the pity people would express when they found out I didn’t have a mom.

Looking back, I realize I spent my life in the shadow of my mom’s suicide attempts and depression. I was adamant that I would not be like her. I would never be weak like I thought she must have been. When I had my first child, I was even more resolved that I would be nothing like her. And I was a great mom: attentive, patient, happy, ambitious. For the first time, I resented her for leaving her children because I could not understand how anyone could do that.

Then, I had my second child. I knew something was wrong in my last trimester. I grew depressed, anxious, and obsessed about irrational things. I told nobody and figured it would go away after I got to hold my baby in my arms, but it only got worse. He seemed to cry all the time, he was a horrible nurser, and nobody but me could hold him. At the same time, my three year old demanded my attention.

I sank into a dark place. I found myself resenting my baby. I started having anxiety attacks when he would cry. I remember wondering if I could place him for adoption. I was sure someone would be a better parent to him. I didn’t want to admit I was “weak” like my mom. I spent my life being everything she wasn’t. I spent my life not being what she was.

Around this time, Brooke Shields wrote a book about her experience with postpartum depression called Down Came the Rain. I do not know where I would be if that book hadn’t ended up in my hands. As I read about her depression, I realized something: this beautiful, intelligent, talented woman was admitting she needed help overcoming her depression.

I decided that was where I would be different from my mom. I would get help before it was too late. I had to be strong enough to admit that I was weak. I was ashamed and embarrassed, but I did seek help because of my love for my boys. With the help of antidepressants, I became more like the “old” me again. I still struggle with depression and anxiety, and I still take medication for it.

When I found out my mom passed away a couple years ago, I felt I needed to do something to “release” her… to let her know I finally understood her. I needed to let her know that she had my forgiveness.

My goodbyes to her were put on the back burner, however. The same day I learned of her passing, my dad was undergoing surgery. Complications arose and he almost died. From that time on, his health deteriorated. He almost died several times in the months that followed. Emotionally, I couldn’t focus on my mom’s death. My dad had priority. He died five months ago and I miss him terribly. I always thought my first book would be dedicated to him, but as the story, Through a Mirror Darkly, wrote itself, I realized it was a book for my mom. It was my way to say goodbye, to let her go with my forgiveness.

I’ve always found comfort in writing, and this story was no different. It also brought healing. I believe in the afterlife. I believe she needed to know that she is forgiven. I feel I needed to tell her this for her sake and mine. I hope she has finally found peace and wholeness.

If you are interested in the fictional account of my story, you can get it on Amazon. It’s less than a buck and if you have Kindle Unlimited, you can read it for free. If you do read it, please leave a review on Amazon. Reviews help independent authors like me. Thank you!51AiuzkwVtL._SX312_BO1,204,203,200_ (1)