Recently my two oldest children have both been hurt by people they thought were friends. As we all know, when our children are hurt, we hurt a million times more for them, so I, too, was hurt by the people they thought were friends. The thing is, my amazing kids are over it. They forgave and forgot and moved on. They don’t call these kids “people they thought were friends”. They just call them friends.
A few years ago, someone I worked with did a really shitty and unprofessional thing to me personally and I was hurt and angry. Guess what? That person is long gone from my life, but I am still hurt and angry when I think about it. The thing is, that person is not thinking about it at all. The only person my grudge-holding is affecting is me.
I have been slighted by friends recently as well. Interacting with human beings inevitably results in feelings being hurt at one time or another. We are all imperfect beings. Understanding this, and living it, though, are two separate things. When my friends hurt my feelings, my first thought is “I have plenty of other friends. I will surround myself by people who make me feel good and get rid of those that don’t.” Am I willing to throw away a 15 year friendship because of something that is really pretty minor? Why is that my first reaction? I do feel that there is truth to having quality friends over quantity and I will not keep a friendship going if it is harmful, but I feel like I should be giving a little more thought to the value of my friendships before I cut people out of my life for doing me wrong.
This past weekend I woke up on a very full Saturday full of driving the kids to various activities, practices, and games. I went downstairs and said good morning to my 10 year old and she had some rude retort. Her eyes were a-rolling in her head after everything I said and she acted as though I was the stupidest person that had ever lived. After cleaning up the breakfast mess that my very capable children had left on the table, I had about 10 minutes before we had to leave for my son’s basketball game, so I started to clean the shower which was very overdue for a cleaning. The same shower that no one else would clean if I didn’t do it, even though I had asked for help with it (and many other chores) over and over and over for months from all of my very capable family members. I had sprayed down the walls and doors and was on my hands and knees in the shower scrubbing the corners and hoping the black gunk was just gunk and not mold when my husband came in and said “I need to take a shower”. He had been in the basement exercising.
“Okay. I’m cleaning it, can you wait?”
“No, I need to get in right now so I can get to the game.”
I sighed heavily and got out. He took the rag I had been using and threw it outside of the shower on the floor so he could take his shower. Something in me snapped. I saw his actions as way more than him needing to take a shower. I saw them as a literal dismissal of me, my needs, and my feelings. I felt, yet again, the weight of the responsibility of keeping up a house and a family falling solely on my shoulders. I saw my weekend of chauffeuring children and cleaning up after ungrateful slobs flash before my eyes and I lost my shit.
I decided at that moment that I was done. I was no longer going to be everyone’s servant, keeper, and organizer and I was going to let them figure it out for once. I was on strike.
For three days, I let laundry pile up. I left cupboards open if I didn’t open them. I left spills on the floor if I didn’t make them. I cleaned up my own messes, but made a conscious effort to not clean up anyone else’s. I only lasted three days. Because guess who my strike was hurting? Certainly not the same family members who caused me to go on strike in the first place because of their lack of appreciation and lack of helpfulness around the house. It was only hurting me.
And then, my 13 year old sent me a text from school. “Mom. My teacher died.” His Science teacher had had a heart attack driving to school that morning. And he died. Earlier in the year, another Science teacher at his middle school, the husband of a friend of mine from high school, also had died in a car accident, leaving his wife and three children behind.
As we reeled from the devastating news and I tried to console my grief-stricken son, I was hit, yet again, by another ton of proverbial bricks. This time it was the thought that any one of us could be taken from this earth at any moment. That could be my husband. That could be me. That could be one of my children. Or one of their friends. Or one of my friends.
Was the three days of holding onto hurt and anger and refusing to clean up after my precious family worth it? Did the sense of righteousness I had at the injustice I had felt at the time even matter? How about any other time that I have felt slighted or wronged? What does holding onto my grudges do to help anyone?
I feel like, as a 41 year old woman, it is time to let that shit go. I need to practice what I preach to my kids and be more like them. I need to learn to let things go and move on. I need to practice forgiveness because not doing that is only hurting me.