As Christmas approaches and I look forward to spending time with my friends and family, I can’t help but reflect back on these relationships.
This year will be the fourth Christmas that my husband and I share as a married couple. When I was younger I had always assumed that being married meant you had your life together (giant LOL to this idea) and that marriage was always this beacon of maturity and responsibility for me. Of course, as I grew up, I learned that life is rarely how romantic comedies portray it. One thing that being married has done for me, though, is teach me respect, and through respect, I think, I’ve learned forgiveness.
I was a kid with a hard chip on her shoulder. I had despair in my heart and resentment always on my mind. My childhood didn’t seem to be like my friends’ childhoods. They had better stuff, they were closer with their parents, their relatives were around, and they seemed happy. At the time I felt like I was missing all of these things in my life. So, naturally, I blamed my parents. I always thought, “when I’m a parent I’ll NEVER make my kids feel this way.” But, like I said, I grew up: eventually, I realized that life is just not that easy and that we all make some pretty shitty mistakes. My parents are humans (not monsters), but I think I couldn’t always see that.
Side note: I think the fact that I am still able to see my youth as a fairly magical time that was separate from a lot of the horrors of the real world is proof that my parents did a pretty good job!
In my late teens, I really wanted to be closer with my parents. I have always been afraid of losing them as death has been a prominent theme in my life. I was terrified that something would happen to them before I had a chance to get to know them (even though I resented them) and I started hanging around them more and talking to them though it wasn’t always easy. My parents and I are so similar and yet so different, and while we were definitely closer after these bonding efforts, I just couldn’t relieve my resentment. Luckily, the last thing that I wanted to do was tell them all the things that I was harboring in my heart. I didn’t want to unload a bunch of negative crap onto them because I knew that was going to make them feel terrible and then I’d feel worse and nothing would be fixed.
When my husband and I got married, we moved across the country for school and everything in our world changed. Suddenly I was this married woman living far away from all her support systems. As I started to see these same challenges that my parents faced at my age, I slowly began to see my parents in a different light. I’ve learned a lot about my parents by simply living and growing up and these are things that I couldn’t understand through discussion/observation/angry rumination. Through this understanding, I began to respect them. Slowly I felt that chip on my shoulder smoothing over and that steady erosion continues to this day.
While watching Hannibal on NBC there’s an episode called “Mizumono” where a character named Bella says: “Forgiveness is such a profound, conscious, and unconscious state of affairs. You can’t actually choose to do it. It simply happens to you.” I felt connected to this idea and I absolutely agree with it. You can’t make yourself forgive someone, but you can keep living and learning, and, perhaps, through these actions, forgiveness will happen.