Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Maybe it's About Forgiveness

I have not been proud of myself the last couple days.

You won't be proud of me, either.

I haven't been very nice, and I'm sorry about that. I feel bad.

But I decided I need to forgive myself, like I would forgive anyone else I love if they screwed up.

Then I need to give myself a second (third, forty-three millionth) chance and try to do better. Try to learn from my mistakes.

Mistakes like these:

My sisters birthday was Saturday. Now, a little background info to give you some perspective: My sister has a lot of friends and goes out a lot. She has a very active social life. I do not. Her birthday fell on a rare day when I had plans. Lots of plans. Plus a surprise visit in between. So I didn't call her. I didn't think it was any big deal. Figured she wouldn't be home anyway. Figured I wasn't that important (I figure that a lot - maybe something else I need to work on). Figured it was no big deal and I'd catch up with her later in the week and we'd celebrate. I figured wrong. Turns out a lot of people who were important to her figured the same thing. She was so disappointed and sad and I felt horrible for having contributed to it. I didn't think my acknowledgment would've meant anything, but it would've.

Lesson learned from this one: I need to stop bringing my own self esteem issues into everything and pay attention to others feelings and needs. Even if I think my input won't matter. It just might.

My next faux pas was even worse.

Lea has been talking all school year about how they have assigned seating at lunch and she has to sit with "the nerds". Her father and I have talked to her from the beginning about not labeling these boys - about being nice to them - about being compassionate and treating these boys like individuals - about giving them a chance. Sometimes we guilt her into a mumbled "I know" and sometimes she screams back at us, "but they're NERDS!". Yesterday after school she and her friend were talking about these boys again and, again, I interrupted them and told them they weren't being nice or thoughtful. Then her friend said, "But Tammy! He locks his pencil bag!" It was so unexpected that I laughed. I knew it was wrong to laugh, which for some stupid reason made me laugh harder. It turned into that uncontrollable silly laughter usually associated with staying up way past your bedtime. Mid-giggle I started consciously trying to stop, but I just couldn't. I was hysterical. This, of course, reinforced for Lea and her friend everything they'd been feeling all along. That these boys were different, and, worse yet, that they were deserving of ridicule. When I finally calmed myself down (and was overwhelmed with guilt and shame) I talked to both of them about how inappropriate my reaction was and how it really was important for them to be nice to these boys. They both very solemnly agreed. I think they were mocking me.

Lesson learned (hopefully!) from this one: I need to stay on guard. If need to control those reactions and not let my kids see me behaving in such a hypocritical manner. I just - need to be better. I need to practice what I preach.

We all let people down from time to time (including ourselves).

That's the third lesson, I guess. That we screw up. We're human and fallible. We hurt people, even when we don't mean to. All we can do is try to make it better, try to minimize (if not eliminate) future incidents, and, when we make mistakes, learn to forgive ourselves and keep on trying.

I feel a little better.

But not a lot.

2 comments:

Karen said...

I know exactly what you mean. You don't MEAN to hurt someones feelings. We get so wrapped up in our busy lives, even if others don't see the hustle and bustle of our days, that we can't think past the moment.
I understand being disappointed in yourself, we have all been there, done that. But what is more important is that we have the benefit of looking back on situations, re-evaluating them and learning from them.
We all need to learn these lessons. But what i think is important is that we forgive ourselves and realize that we all are human.

Tammy said...

Thank you for that, sister-friend.