Hot Coals

Hello dear reader.

My last couple of posts have been a bit different from what I usually write about, but they’ve been things I’m very passionate about…domestic violence and giving children a voice when they need one.  Today, however, will be a little calmer.  I promise.

I found a quote the other day that really stuck with me.

“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else. You are the one who gets burned”
Buddha

I’ve believed for a long time now that holding on to anger and refusing to forgive, gives the person who wronged you power over you. It hurts you, not them. Buddha just says it better. No matter how it’s said, it’s a truth that a lot of people never grasp.

When I was a child, I wanted more than anything to be grown so my abusive mother and step-father would no longer have control over me. When I was 15, I simply could not deal with it any longer. I was literally losing my mind. So I left. The police found me after a week or so. They gave me a choice between going to Juvie or going home. I thought about it and decided, better the devil you know……right? So I went back. Nothing got better. Things actually got worse. So when I left again a few months later, I had a plan. The plan worked. Instead of sending the police after me, they told me that they would call the police on me if I showed up there. I was free! At least, I thought I was.

Many years went by while I hung on to hurt, anger, hatred, and guilt. Why guilt? Because I had left my four siblings in that hell hole. When I left, I planned to get them out as soon as I could. But I was living in an abandoned car out in a field. In Louisiana. In the summer. I knew I couldn’t take custody of them while I was living like that. It was four years later by the time I had a home of my own, not staying at someone else’s house, and a steady job. By then…..anyway, that’s where the guilt came from.

I went from bad relationship to bad relationship to worse relationship. I was angry, depressed, and felt like a victim. But I didn’t have a clue how to change things. I had gotten away. But I wasn’t FREE. My life still felt the same. I changed geography and who was abusing me, but other than that it was the same life. I’d reach a point where I simply could not deal with it any longer and I’d run, over and over again.

The first time I tried to commit suicide I was 10 years old. I knew that it was dangerous to take more Tylenol than it said to on the bottle, so I swallowed an entire bottle of Tylenol before I went to bed. I completely expected to die during the night. Boy was I mad when I woke up in the morning! That was the first of many attempts throughout my life. I simply could not deal with my life any longer and I tried to run.

It’s a funny thing about running. No matter how fast or how far you run, you are still there with all the pain and anger you try to escape. It took me more than 40 years to figure that out. But I still didn’t know how to change it. I couldn’t erase all that had happened to me. I had tried to forget, but that never worked. I had to let go of it. I didn’t know how to do that.

When I had my first surgery for the Chiari, I truly didn’t know if I would survive the surgery. I wasn’t scared of dying, but if I was going to, I needed to do it with a clean slate. I had to forgive so that I could be forgiven. It wasn’t about letting them off the hook, or in any way condoning what had been done. It was about me being able to die with a clear conscience. So I started calling people…my mother, my ex-husband….people who had hurt me the worst. I called and told them that I was sorry. I was sorry that I hadn’t been a better daughter. I was sorry that I hadn’t been a better wife. I was sorry that I hadn’t been a better person, a better sibling, friend, mother….so many things.

I was shocked at what happened. My pain and anger toward people went away as I apologized for my failures in the relationship. I was able to let go of my hurt. With every person I talked to, a little bit of light shined into places in my heart that had never been anything but dark. It was incredible! They didn’t have any more power over me. What they had done to me no longer controlled my life.

Let me be very clear about one thing here. Forgiving does not mean forgetting. I would never leave my daughters alone with my parents because I knew what could happen. I let go of the pain they had caused me. I didn’t become stupid. What I did was for me, not for them.

I did survive the surgery….obviously. But I had my clean conscious. My past no longer ruled my future. I’ve worked hard every day since then to try to be more forgiving. The things that happened to me are still a part of my life, but now I try to use them for good. I work with children who have been abused or neglected. I work with victims of domestic violence. I am very passionate about those things. But I am no longer a victim. I am a survivor.

That hot coal did a lot of damage to me while I tried to throw it. I still burn my fingertips from time to time when I reach to pick it back up. But now I’ve learned to drop it.

I truly hope that I (and Buddha) have given you something to think about today. Put something in comments at the bottom of this page and let me know. You are welcome to share as much or as little as you’d like. Please feel free to pass this on. It’s truly life changing.

Until next time…

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My Opinions

Hello dear reader.

Today has been an interesting day, to say the least.  I saw Dr. K.  He said my MRI was “as normal as it gets for me.”  Everything is “stable.”  This is good news, and not so good news.  It’s good because it means I don’t have to undergo another surgery, always a good thing, right?   The not so good part is now we have to find out why my symptoms are returning.  With surgery there would be a definite end in sight.  That’s not the case now. 

I remember at one point, when things were really bad with the pain (several years ago), I asked Dr. K. if this disease (Chiari) would kill me.  He told me “not anytime soon.”  I cried for days because that meant there was no end in sight to the pain, the weakness, and the feeling of being useless and a burden.  I  can endure anything as long as I know it will be over at some point.  The hardest part of this is not knowing if that’s the case.  So often it feels like it will never end.

Enough about that…
I’ve been very involved in some research recently which will probably raise a few eyebrows.  I’m studying the Koran.  I’m marking the similarities between it and the Bible.  I intend to write a pretty extensive piece on how much the two religions have in common.  I’ve found many things that are different, but have been amazed at how many stories parallel each other.  I think it’s going to be a really good article.  My hope is to reduce some of the  prejudice toward Muslims by showing the things we have in common.  Every religion has extremists who do horrible things in the name of God, but those are the exceptions, rather than the rule.  I think it is a horrible shame that those people are seen as the norm, as representatives of that  particular religion.  For example, Pastor Terry Jones of the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida decided the “Christian” way to World Outreach was to burn Korans. Then we have Pastor Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church who spreads God’s love by encouraging violence against law enforcement officers and especially gays and lesbians. People like that give Christianity a bad name, just as the Boston Bombers and 911, among others, give Muslim a bad name.

Since I’m on a roll with controversial subjects tonight, I would love for someone to explain to me how same-sex marriage will “destroy the sanctity of marriage.” I am a heterosexual who is getting married next month. No matter how many same-sex marriages happen, the sanctity of my marriage will not change.

I simply cannot abide all of the prejudice and judgement I see every time I turn on the news. I’m very sad to say that a large part of it comes from so-called “Christians.” The meaning of the word “Christian” is Christ-like. I’ve studied the Bible my entire life. Christ’s life was about compassion, love, acceptance, healing, forgiveness, etc. There is no place in the Bible where He condoned violence or hatred.

What I write here is strictly my opinion. You are certainly entitled to have a differing opinion. As a matter of fact, I would love to discuss these differences with you in a respectful and civil manner.

I have no idea why my writing went this way today, but it just goes to show that you never know what’s going to come out of my head. I’ll try my best to focus on something much more positive next time.

Until then…