Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Truth

Looking back at my posts it seems to me that I have painted myself in a very favorable light. I seem to be this angelic figure sitting at Brennis’ bedside and calmly taking care of my him without complaint. I must say my bedside manner was pretty impressive. I did feel very centered and calm and compassionate most of the time and I really wanted to be the person Brennis could depend on if he needed me.

I was, however, also very angry, disappointed, frightened, sad, lonely, stressed, frustrated and any number of other negative adjectives throughout this experience. There were moments when I was angry with Brennis for not taking better care of himself (not that I was the picture of health myself….but I wasn’t the one in the hospital). I was aggravated with myself for not taking better care of him (I treated unhealthy foods as a “reward” for both of us: Have a good week? Here’s an extra bag of Doritos!”). I was frustrated that we had no control over the situation we were in. I was scared. I was terrified. And sometimes I honestly thought he might not make it.

Most of the time I was tired. If you’ve ever been in the hospital you know that there is very little time for rest. Between the nurses waking you up regularly to get blood samples and the alarms going off in the room down the hall you’re lucky to get two straight hours of sleep while you’re there. Brennis and I realized years ago that 95% of our arguments happened when we were either hungry or tired. We didn’t argue while he was in the hospital ever…..but we were almost always hungry and tired so we were walking on thin ice.

Looking back at the time preceding the heart attack I have to say I am not pleased with the person I had become. I worked too much, was burned out and began to treat even those people closest to me rather poorly. I was short tempered and grouchy. I didn’t mean to be but I was becoming a bit of an ass. Brennis going into the hospital was a kind of “slap in the face” for me and made me realize that I was not being kind to the people I love….the people who now were keeping my business open and collecting toilet paper and toothpaste so I wouldn’t have to go shopping when Brennis came home.

Somehow, in the rush to become the person I wanted to be I had become the person I didn’t want to be. I was so focused on getting “there” that I forgot that I already was “there”. Why did I feel that I had to “work” at being a better person by pressuring myself to do more things better and faster than the person I was? Why couldn’t I just be glad to be me with all of my wonderful qualities as well as my faults?

So sometimes I’m a jerk. Most of the time I am not. I try my best to be kind to people whenever I can. I try to smile when I pass someone on the street and not get upset when they don’t smile back. I try to be optimistic and pleasant and a good listener….but sometimes I just don’t have it in me and that’s okay. Once again, it’s about being present in the moment….really experiencing the way you are feeling as things are happening to you. It makes it easier not to bring your own “stuff” to your interactions with other people because if you try to be conscious of the moment that “stuff” doesn’t exist….it’s just you and the other person and the space around the two of you. The “stuff” isn’t really there at all.

On the second day that Brennis was in the hospital I felt an overwhelming urge to forgive someone who never thought I would be able to forgive. One might think that such a desire to forgive someone came from a selfish place…..trying to be a better person in exchange for Brennis getting better (I wondered at first if that’s where that came from, anyway). The feeling, however, came from somewhere very deep inside of me. It was a feeling I would never be able to describe to you with a million words. Why that person even entered my mind during that time I will never tell you. What I do know is that I realized in that moment that my inability to forgive that person was as much a disease in my body as the blocked arteries around Brennis’ heart were a disease in his. I had diagnosed myself with an illness and the only cure was removing it. It was the most liberating thing I have ever done.

I have often said that most of the times when people act poorly they do it out of their own insecurity. We get angry with people because we wish they liked us better (not all the time, but think back….you’ll find it’s true a lot). We yell at people because we feel we are not being listened to. We act aloof because we don’t want to be judged. When you realize this it is much easier to forgive people for their imperfections.

My ability to allow myself to forgive the person I never thought I would be able to forgive proved to me that I was indeed the person I wanted to be…..I just didn’t know it. It was the little voice inside of me that told me it was the right thing to do….that was me speaking…..and I listened.

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