When I was going through breast cancer, the early stages, my friend Barb gave me this wonderful book called The Forgiveness Project.
And when you are a woman whose life has been touched with breast cancer, you learn to forgive. Or your head might explode. So slowly, I have learned a little better to forgive and release. It is not easy, because like it or not, it is in a woman’s nature to hold onto things.
So as I adjust to my new life and new community, I am meeting new people. Some of these people have sought me out because of my writing and photography. One woman did so because of the photos and write-up I had done on a local farmers’ market she put together. That happened shortly after I moved and I was thrilled!
But then what she had asked to use of my work never appeared. So I sent her an e-mail. I received a note back saying she had been busy with her kids blah, blah, blah.
The next time I saw her at the market, I stopped to say hello. She pulled me aside and told me she was sorry, but she couldn’t link to my blog because of something I had written that she was uncomfortable with. I said that was no problem, that I understood. That was the truth.
The next time I saw this woman she was hyper saccharine sweet. And quickly moving as if she actually spoke to me she might catch cooties. It was like Stepford PTA mom overly caffeinated.
Then I saw her this past week at the market. This time, when I stopped to see her she was chilly, dismissive, and in a passive aggressive way, impossibly rude. She was this way around other women and that was upsetting and embarrassing.
So I sat on this a couple of days, and sent this woman a note. I admire her for what she has done but I thought it might be helpful if she learned a little about me. You know, so she wasn’t always so obviously uncomfortable around me? After all, I am not looking for a new BFF, just the ability to be pleasant should our paths cross.
Needless to say, a few days have passed and nary a reply. Or acknowledgement. Or apology. I didn’t really expect one from this professional PTA mom. I am different, have arrived chez parenting later than most. Me, I wouldn’t be all judgey on that, but I am simply not what this woman is used to. A friend of mine describes the type as Parents Of OneUpsManship and the Self Proclaimed Mothers Of The Year.
So yes, I did feel like writing about this, and I will continue to be pleasant to this woman when I see her, because that is how I was raised. Besides, what does being the way she is to me right back at her get me? Absolutely nothing.
The reality is, this is not someone I need in my life and I found her behavior upsetting and now it’s done. It is surprisingly easy to forgive someone who is limited for being stupid. After all, in the big picture, they retreat quickly to the background…from whence they came.
Life is funny, and seriously, post breast cancer you just learn to let shit go. Take another woman I ran into recently who I know through mutual friends. She is recovering from some health issues and an operation. Her doctors want her to rest more. But I think part of her is afraid to, because when she is by herself sometimes she cries. I asked her why she was crying and the response was something about the often unfairness of life. I think she thought I was a little nutty because I said why cry all the time when you could smile because you are alive?
Life is what you make of it, and as adults we do need to learn about forgiveness. Not in a guilt everyone around you with the word kind of way, either. In more of a catch and release and learn to be accepting kind of way. Easier said than done some days, yes. But mostly attainable.
Perhaps there’s an alternative to forgiveness (or another step) which is simply, if possible, forgetting. If we can forget about those who cannot cope, then those people can’t rent space in our minds. Easier said than done, but worth giving a shot?