April has been a month of learning to let go – of silly mistakes I’ve made in the past, of silly things I’ve said and done, of misunderstandings and misconceptions (both mine and other people’s), of things which rear their ugly heads in my memory every so often and make me cringe inside.
It’s been tough. When you’ve spent most of your life mulling things over and reliving the negative moments and letting those feelings resurface, it’s hard to suddenly say, “No more!”
But that has been my tactic. I have faced all these memories of events and conversations head-on, and told them straight out that it’s time for me to move on; that they can stay for as long as they want but that I will be ignoring them, despite their best efforts to get my attention.
I have spent time:
* accepting that everyone does and says stupid things;
* acknowledging that these things have happened;
* forgiving myself for whatever I’ve done, and forgiving others too;
* acknowledging the way these things made me (or others) feel at the time; and
* tackling any new instances immediately, and either making them right, or laughing at my foolishness and moving on as quickly as possible.
Want a recent example?
I was out for a coffee with a friend and her 5-week-old baby. The baby needed a nappy change (which she doesn’t like), so my friend toddled off to the bathroom to sort that out. When they came back, the baby was a little distressed – probably hungry and a bit p*ssed off about the nappy change. As a joke, I said, “Oh, do you have the worst mummy in the world?” (meaning, “You’re okay, little baby – mummy was just making sure you were nice and clean and comfortable.”), but the expression on my friend’s face instantly told me I’d said the wrong thing. I suddenly remembered those early weeks of parenthood, where sleep is a distant memory, hormones are still a-raging, and sensitivity is at an all time high.
I felt terrible, but didn’t know what to do to make it right at that moment. I quickly changed the subject, but all the while all, a big neon light was flashing **DUMB DUMB DUMB** in my head.
After we’d parted ways, I mulled this over for some time. And suddenly it became clear that I needed to do all those things listed above. I accepted, acknowledged and forgave, and then I sent my friend a text message to tell her that I think she’s doing an amazing job (which she is), that motherhood suits her (which it does), evident in the fact that her daughter seems very content (which she does).
I didn’t directly come out and say that I hadn’t meant my comment to be hurtful – perhaps I should have? I still don’t know, but I feel like immediately addressing it made it easier for me not to beat myself up about it, and hopefully it made her realise I hadn’t meant it in a cruel way.
Only time will tell as to whether I can maintain this way of dealing with these things, but so far, so good. I’ve got the points above etched into the door of my Old Memories vault, and for now, the bolt is firmly fastened.
Oh, and how apt is it that I stumbled upon this quote this month??