Thursday, April 4, 2013

Bitter blast from the past

Baby J is growing up too quickly! Almost five months already!

Opinions change. At least mine do. Maybe back in the day, when was still in my impassioned, idealist twenties, I might have resisted this notion, but now that I’m over 40… you realize that sometimes, you can be wrong about things, and sometimes, you have to give the benefit of the doubt.  I realized this recently. I already have the challenge of my introverted nature to battle in order to create and maintain relationships with people. I've had social anxiety for all of my life. What ‘cured’ me of it… or more accurately, what forced me to deal with it, was my job with the Merrimack Valley Community Service Corps, and namely, my gregarious and often charismatic boss, Terry.  Terry is/was one of the most outgoing, social, open person I had ever met, and mind you, I grew up in a saddle club with a bar and club house.

Since I can't illustrate this narrative, I'll just post pictures
of my baby. :)
Some folks called Terry a ‘dry drunk’. Someone with all the behaviours and narcissistic habits of an alcoholic, but without the booze. He was a drinker and partier in his youth, and when he dropped it, he still had to be the center of attention. I was okay with that. I adored him. He was and still is the best person I have ever worked for—even if it was exhausting. Every day, Terry would hold court. I only was able to spend time in my own office when he was out or on the phone. Thankfully, because he was such a chatty attention whore, he as on the phone a lot. Hahaha. His sparkly blue eyes, strong English/Irish traits, and his super-strong New England accent, this charming son-of-a-bitch could only rip me out of my shell.  He did it the moment I started working for him.  Around Terry, I learned to be open, to laugh, to joke around, to chat, to interact, and to be open and less fearful about engaging other human beings.  I love Terry for that, and for so many other reasons.  These days, this normally slim walker has pudged up a bit. His hair has turned white and he’s growing a white beard. He looks like a Springtime Santa. I haven’t seen him in person for many years, but he does drive-bys on my Facebook account occasionally to like the innumerable photos of Baby J.  Terry is a community theatre ‘star’… has an amazing singing voice and is as melodramatic and charismatic as anyone can be. I miss him all the time.  You can probably find him with Pentucket Players.  He is still doing the same job.

First time having solids (brown rice cereal). I decided to
wait it out because he became constipated. His
digestive system just isn't ready.
Anyway, I digress. I loved Terry. I loved him because he taught me to figure out who I was, and taught me to find enjoyment in interaction with other people, even if it was hard and daunting.  All these years later, I have grown so much socially. The ORS is proof that I can overcome the crippling introversion that has hampered me, and yes, I do talk too much about myself, and I do overshare, but I’d rather have that and be an interactive, engaging person, than just being the hermit my nature keeps trying to make me.
With relationships… hell, with people, you have drama. I’m not a big fan of drama. I remember being a dramatic soul myself in my twenties. I look back with some measure of embarrassment as I see how my penchant for it affected the relationships I did have at the time.  I lost a couple of good friends who got tired of it. I wish I could find them to apologize.

In my circle of friends, I have had people who have rubbed me the wrong way. I have had to do a lot of soul searching to understand what it was that did, and what it would take for me to confront that dislike and understand it and in some cases, overcome it to come to the realization that most of it is contrived and cultural. Most of it is fabricated. And given a chance, the people I initially find irksome, are often really great people who just do things differently than I do.  I change my mind about people. It happens, I guess. It’s something I realized about myself and I can say with pleasure, it’s something I can be proud of. I can get over myself and give people the benefit of the doubt. I guess it comes with maturity.  It makes me aware of how much energy and emotional baggage holding grudges and bad feelings for people exacts from me as a person. I feel so much more liberated knowing I can just let that resentment go and move on.  Life is too short to spend it being bitter.

The other day, I got a message in my Facebook inbox from a woman who claims to know me from middle-school when I was at the International School of Brussels. Her message was a diatribe of concentrated bitterness… something that had been held onto, something that festered and grew dark and viscous… something she just couldn't let go. From what she told me, I was someone who had done something awful to her.  She hated me.

         “You are the worst human being to ever walk the earth and you ruined my life.” 

Yes. She wrote this. Now the worst part? I have NO idea who she is. I have no memory of her; her face on her Facebook profile is completely unfamiliar to me. Mind you, I was in no way, not even possibly, a mean person. I was an introvert. I kept to myself, and was picked on myself by pretty much everyone, from students to teachers. I had very few friends in school, and didn't interact with many people, so how I could have somehow caused someone to hate me, and so efficiently that she would hold onto it over twenty five years after graduation, still feel compelled to hunt me down on Facebook using my maiden name, and then write a giant seethingly furious missive of anger and bitterness …. It is completely impossible for me to grasp.  I would think this is a case of mistaken identity … but she named me by my maiden name (no easy task… Peteranecz? Who remembers that let alone remembers how to spell it?). So whatever it is I did, it was obviously inadvertent. I don’t want to feed her delusion by addressing it, so I've ignored her. Oh, did I mention that she had to have paid $1.00 to send me this message because Facebook is requiring that if you want to message people into their main inboxes if they are not your friend.

Anyway, it was a surprise to have this woman come out of the woodwork. It made me realize how much *I* let go, even through my twenties. I do have a lot of resentment towards some folks still, but my way of dealing with that is to ignore their friend requests on Facebook, or to avoid engaging in conversations with them on other peoples’ pages. I sure as hell don’t send a bunch of embittered $1.00 messages going on furious tirades about things that happened thirty years ago or more. It’s kind of pathetic. We were kids, and I’m pretty sure, even the worst person that treated me badly in school is dealing with their own issues and has explanations for their stupid behavior as a kid.  I forgave most of them years ago. I let it go, and I just avoid opening the door with them again now that Facebook has arrived. I have gotten friend requests from a couple of my former bullies, but I just delete them. What’s the point? I don’t need their apology. They can come to terms with themselves without my help. In the meantime, I live on.

I have to look at people differently now. If they are doing something that grates on my nerves, I need to just get over it. It’s not all about my nerves. It’s not all about me.  I grew up. I guess that’s what maturity is. Because of that, my life is richer. I am lucky to have interesting characters to enrich my life. And it’s a hell of a lot less complicated when you’re not busy holding grudges and reminding yourself why.

So, I am giving everyone a chance. It doesn't mean I will take anyone's crap. I don't. And there's only so much intentional BS and drama directed at me that I can take before I start cutting ties. But if it's not personal, and there's room to communicate, then I'm okay with it.  I won't hold onto things, and I won't allow others to make me hold onto things because they haven't gotten there yet.  It's their lesson to learn. Not mine to teach.

In the meantime, I am focusing on my small family, finding a strange new relationship with my mother (talk about not holding onto bitterness... this is proof I'm capable of forgiveness, because I am actually forging a good relationship with my mother because of this baby that has graced our lives). Baby J has given joy to someone who was seemingly incapable of it.  I'm a full on atheist, but I don't mind using the word 'miracle' when it comes to this. It's not a deity that affected this change, it's the plain good vibes a sweet, unmarred, innocent baby emanates.  I have come to find that love for my mother (the good love, not the obligated love one feels for a difficult family member) again. I feel forgiving. It feels good.

She spends a full day with us at least once a week. We do things together. She stays and plays with Baby J while I cook us all dinner. It's not bad.  Not bad at all. It's the relationship I wanted with her.  Who knew it would take a little baby boy to achieve it.

Baby J's room is almost finished. I'll be posting about that soon, because it's reaaaaally cute (at least to me). I'm waiting for some fabric from Spoonflower to finish off some details, and Dan has to replace a window so I can finish painting the bay window area. When it's done, I'll do a whole post on the baby's room.

1 comment:

Hannah said...

Thanks for this article on forgiving and letting go of bitterness(even if it had a good reason). I think its one of the (if not the) most important lesson in life, what makes the hugest difference when you meet really old people, between the ones who still have joy and the ones that are all crippled inside.

So good to hear Baby J is giving so much joy :)


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