Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Resentment and Faith

This has been a challenging week. I have to say that resentment is one of the things that I struggle with letting go of. I have a highly developed sense of justice, and when I feel that I'm being treated unjustly, it really pushes my buttons.

I am trying, and have been for years, to remember that I can only control me - I can only control my own response, and try to have an open and empathic view of others' experience, but it is really hard!

May is always a tough time, because it includes both Mother's Day and my own mother's birthday (today), both days fraught with meaning and resentment on both sides of the fence. My mother and I have had a difficult relationship, from the time I was an adolescent through the present. We have had periods - sometimes more than a year - where we don't speak at all. This has become both easier and more difficult since having my own children.

I have my own relationship with her and often I think I have let go of old resentments. I try very hard to let my children have their own relationship with her, as long as I feel they're safe. She has chosen not to engage in a relationship with them for almost 18 months now - I gave her some opportunities to mend fences in December and she only followed through with the kids about six times.

So Mother's Day passed, and I picked up the phone several times and finally decided I just didn't want to call her. She's never been much of a mother, and none of those Hallmark cards fit, so I haven't sent one in years. Today is her birthday, and I haven't called. I probably won't. I do know that I'm not operating out of a desire to punish or feeling resentment this time. I just have some boundaries that I observe to keep myself healthy around toxic people.

Unfortunately, this week has brought up old and new resentments between my ex-husband and I. On both our parts. Tough things, like custody and visitation. Parenting styles. Limits. Safety.

I'm not sleeping well and things aren't really resolved and may never be. But I need to learn to let go. (and let God doesn't really fit for me, but maybe let karma? Or let life, or let the natural progression of healing time take place?) One good thing that came in an email from him was a lesson, that I was able to hear even in the midst of feeling defensive, hurt and judged.

"Do any of these things strike you as being inaccurate, distorted or blown out of context? If so, chances are that the same is true of your opinions about my parenting. Even the things that we see "first hand" are just glimpses."

This is such a true statement - not just about parenting, but about everything we see in life. We're only seeing glimpses of the whole, and as a person who struggles with judgment and resentment, I need to remember this all the time.

So I'm going to try to breathe deeply, and let go. Let go. Let go.

All of this judgment on both sides of the fence - mine and his, mine and my mothers - is exhausting. It takes all the sap out of me. I'm gray in the face of blue skies, and unmotivated. It shakes up my faith in myself as a good person at heart. Shaking up faith is good. But it's hard. Do I have what it takes? Am I doing the right thing? Am I asking for too much sacrifice from those around me for me to become a minister? These are hard questions.

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