Clearing the air

Eleanor resting her chin on the arm of a chair
Eleanor resting her chin on the arm of a chair

A few years ago, I had a falling out with someone professionally. I was very upset and hurt by what I saw as their disregard of my contribution, and told them how I was feeling. During the correspondences that followed, they apologized and tried to correct the misunderstanding….basically calling it a misunderstanding. But I didn’t see how it could be that.

To be a misunderstanding, it had to have several different (legitimate) perspectives. I only saw mine, and I didn’t want to see their’s. I said (in words) that I understood, I accepted their apology, and wanted to put the whole thing behind me, but in my heart it wasn’t clean, or clearly let go of. A woman whom I was friends with years ago used to say, “I forgive, but I never forget.” At the time I thought this sounded cleaver, but over the years, I saw this woman become heavier, slower, darker, and much less appealing to be around. Forgiveness, as lip-service, is relatively easy.

The other day, Jack and I were talking about how to deal with hurtful behavior by others, and this situation came to mind. My next words were, “We are just as wrong when we don’t let someone clear the air and make things right.” I realized that in my own situation I had not wanted to clear the air.

I was actually (and not really consciously) more comfortable thinking that I had been wronged then I was stepping into this person’s perspective. I had been wrong too, maybe not in our initial interaction, but in my reaction, and while the other person had tried (when I brought to her attention what had happened) to correct it within hours, I’d held onto this long-term grievance for several years.

I knew that I needed to make an amend but wasn’t sure how to go about it, and my pride was having a fit with thoughts like, “You didn’t do anything wrong! You don’t need to apologize.” …but I did. I sent an email, telling her what I had seen in myself and apologizing. I didn’t know if I’d get a response or not, but it didn’t matter. When I composed my letter and hit “send” on my computer, I took a deep breath. I was clear, I had seen myself clearly and it felt so good. I did receive a reply and it was open, gracious and lovely.

I wish that I was fully enlightened. I wish that I wouldn’t ever hurt another person again. I wish that I was always open and joy-filled and free. But that probably isn’t going to happen, so the best that I can do, is the best that I can do, in the moment that I see it. I choose to be open to everyone, to not hold grudges, to be friendly, kind, and loving. When I’m not like this, I know it, I see it, and I reaffirm my intention to do better in thought, word, and action. I forgive myself for falling short of my ideal, and begin again.

We live in a world of imperfect people, who annoy, hurt, and disappoint and us at times…as we do them. This just seems to be a part of this journey of being a human being. Oh well…so be it. I still choose to be a part of it, to accept life on life’s terms, and to laugh at the absurdity of it all at times. We humans can be such lug-heads can’t we? Why not laugh at ourselves, forgive ourselves, forgive others, clear the air, and step into this new day ready to be the best imperfect people that we can be.

“Life is an adventure in forgiveness.” Norman Cousins

31 thoughts on “Clearing the air”

  1. Good Morning Mary! Well put!!!! This forgiveness thing is just like a Rubics Cube…all twisty and complicated..or we make something simple so complicated…best topic ever!!!! Have a wonderful weekend…

    1. Thank you Janette….I am late getting here today, but send you the highest and best thoughts for the last bit of the weekend, for a magnificent week ahead, and for a perfect now (which is where we always are anyway!) love, Mary

  2. “To be a misunderstanding, it had to have several different (legitimate) perspectives. I only saw mine, and I didn’t want to see their’s.”…ummm, do you think I could have this one tattooed to my brain, Mary?! This is one post that will be reprinted and stuck somewhere to remind me that I’m not always (as I feel, justifiably) right. For every family misunderstanding, for every difficult issue, which at times of family gatherings such as Christmas, Thanksgiving and so on bring home to me in painful ways that people are missing in my life due to disruptions, I try to remain open but it is difficult. One has been my choice; one has not. There are justifiable reasons for this but not justifiable feelings. Imperfect people = buttheads. I get into it just like everyone else and it is NOT good.
    SandyP in Canada

    1. Oh, you had to bring up holidays huh Sandy!! (only kidding)…I love the holiday season and intend this year to be the best ever as I expect the unexpected (in the best sense of the word). Hugs to you this beautiful evening, Mary

  3. It seems like we don’t always have time for time — the time it takes to put things in perspective, to realize that maybe our reaction or tone of voice was a part of the problem, even if our version of the ‘facts’ vindicates us. How wonderful that you sent the e-mail, and that you had such a positive response. You brought joy to two people, to say nothing of the WFF flock. Have a lovely weekend, everyone.

    1. Thank you so much Charlotte….I used to feel like I was constantly defending my fort. Then I realized that I could do that quite well, but ended up living in it alone….not what I really wanted. Here’s to joy shared among friends! the joy of forgiveness and being forgiven. Lovely thoughts to you this evening, Mary

  4. Dearest Mary,
    I love this!
    Thank you so much for my new affirmation. I am going to arise, go forth and be the best imperfect person I can be.
    And, I love the picture of Eleanor resting on the chair.
    Love from Fran

    1. Hello Fran and thank you (you always do like those kitty pictures don’t you?!)…and I love sharing them along with my (at times) nutty journey of awakening. Love to you tonight, Mary

    1. That is very sweet Terri. Thank you for being a part of this loving community, Blessings to you, Mary

  5. I so recognize in myself this tendency to cling to hurt. It takes maturity to have the emotional skill to step back and take a look at our own part in perpetuating uncomfortable feelings. But it happens , we need to forgive ourselves for it when we engage in indulging our feelings of indignation, we need to forgive others their imperfect tendencies. Owning our own humanity is the only way not to retreat from the imperfectness of relations with others . My own deafness makes for alot of misunderstandings, as you can imagine . I constantly have to dust myself off and try to avoid retreating. Believe in the fact that others mean well or if they don’t , it is simply their immaturity at play. Love what Charlotte observed too: taking the time to put things in perspective. What a wonderful place this blog is , to take the time to ponder these things…

    1. Thank you Bobbi…I love your words, “Owning our own humanity is the only way not to retreat from the imperfectness of relations with others.” …what truth. Sending you a hug across the miles this evening, Mary

  6. Thank you Mary – making clear our intention to forgive is such a powerful first step in a process that certainly doesn’t always happen over night, but as you said, “clearing the air” will happen, and maybe one morning the fog lifts, the sun shines, and forgiveness refreshes both the forgiver and the forgiven.

    1. During the weeks before my revelation of this situation, I had been really focused on forgiveness of some family members. I’d thought that I was pretty much finished with that but there was an uncomfortable feeling when I thought of a couple of people, so I knew there was more to do. …I agree with you that setting the intention is the first step (and you never really know where or to whom it might lead). It is good getting free. Much love to you this beautiful evening , Mary

  7. I’m wanting to say, mary, that for the last many posts, including today’s, how much I “get” and appreciate your enlightenment. How my internal burden shifts when I can see the “lug-head-ed-ness” of my humanity. Of course, it’s usually more apparent to see it in another, it seems. But oh to remember my humor; it’s so easy for me to take stuff so seriously….eeeuh! love to you dear woman, may I think on this

    1. Thank you Virginia….I am imagining your lovely laugh right now as we agree to take ourselves more lightly and lovingly, Hugs to you, Mary

  8. Thank you, Mary for sharing your bit of imperfection. I hope to absorb your wisdom. I’ve taught classes on forgiveness but am aware of the challenge of living it. For several years there has been a widening space between me and one of my sisters. What pains me most is–I have no idea what has caused it. My only conclusion is that it’s old stuff. This past year she has stopped responding to my notes and telephone messages.In the meantime, I am having to do a lot of hard work within myself to maintain a loving attitude toward her; to not stay in an angry mode. I’m trusting that someday this will be resolved. But I’m growing weary of the situation.

    1. Helen, if you have asked your sister if there are any issues she has with you that she’s not able to talk with you about and she refuses, then there is not much you can do. It’s very hard to be on the receiving end of rejection and not be told what you are being rejected for. That has happened to me once a few years ago with a family member. When there was no reciprocation as to sitting down and talking about whatever the issues are/were, my mind went to one very serious problem which occured in this person’s childhood of which I was not aware. It is not helpful when people don’t speak up about what is bothering them. I feel, in its own way, it is a form of abuse. In the end, it’s hard not to feel hurt and frustrated .
      SandyP in Canada

    2. I can certainly identify with that. In my case (very similar) I needed to take a step back and stop “trying” for awhile. Every time I thought of her, I said (before my mind started to try to figure things out), “I bless her and release her.” In timing that i could not have planned we reconnected and I was much clearer about myself so I didn’t feel like i needed to win her over and I began to realize that the way she felt about me was truly none of my business. Sending you loving and happy thoughts tonight Helen. Love, Mary

  9. Hi Mary – I had such a similar situation happen. I emails the person concerned within a few days with a brief statement intending to amend the situation. The person in question replied very negatively. Fast forward recently almost a year later, I found myself in a situation where I was face to face with the other party, again I offered amends teasing that I might hug her the next time I see her ( we live in the same area) – she put her fingers in a cross – you know like she was fending off a vampire! At least she had a half smile on her face . So the thing that I related most about this Post is where you said ” it’s just as wrong to Not let the other person clear things up” or words to that effect . But I feel ok about myself now. And I don’t need to make her the bad one in order to feel good about Me. ( well, just a little bit …. As you say we are imperfect people).

    1. Truly, that hurtful gesture says more about the woman making it than about you (or anyone else). I have finally learned that making an amend (and a clear one, in my own heart) is my only part. I have no control at all over what the person does with it. I choose not to live in the prison of unforgiveness but that isn’t true of everyone. Blessings of peace and calm to you this evening , Love, Mary

  10. Mary – Thank you for sharing another beautiful lesson with us. I read this nodding my head in agreement, seeing myself in similar situations. I love the idea of being the best imperfect person I can be. I’m such a work in progress!

    1. Thank you Pam. I listened to one of my favorite ministers saying the other day, “How do you know if you still have forgiveness work to do?” she then paused a few seconds and said, “If you are still in a body, the answer is yes.”
      Hugs to you tonight, Mary

  11. Forgiveness is, in my mind, one of the most difficult processes that we humans have to attempt to learn. You think you’ve got it down and then someone new pushes your buttons and you realize that you’ve picked up, with someone new, right where you left off with someone from years ago.

    I know how I am. I have a really hard time letting go of slights. So I try to meet it half-way by falling into the mode of Carly Simon’s words, “I haven’t got time for the pain…” By reminding myself of that, it helps me to start to move on with a little less of the burden. I feel like I spend half my life jump-starting my “better” self in one way or another.

    As an aside to the WFF flock, my Pooch’s biopsy was diagnosed as non-malignant melanoma. We’re in the clear. Thanks to all for your support and love.

      1. Thanks Sandy! Yes, you’re right. It is so often the other way around. I feel we’ve gotten a reprieve, of sorts, as he’s already 12, and health issues will be looking for him not too far down the road. Until then, I’m making the most of this truly great dog.

    1. That is GREAT news Suzanne! Please give him a big hug (and a kiss if he likes them) for me (and hug to you from me too!). Love, Mary

    1. Thanks, Susan! The relief was overwhelming. I know you were standing right there with me, and it helped!

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