It’s the fourth of July and people are at picnics, beaches, lakes and parks. I see people riding bikes, families roasting marshmallows in fire pits on the beach, kids running in circles waving red, white and blue pinwheels. It is a holiday made for families. It is a holiday made for bonding and fun. It is a holiday made for grandparents and their grandchildren.
Where am I on this fourth of July? I’m home alone, listening to the distant crack and sizzle of local fireworks, trying to comfort my dog who is hiding under a blanket. There is nothing like a holiday to bring up all the loneliness, heartbreak and sadness that we who have been alienated from our grandchildren live with everyday.
I’ve been dealing with being alienated from my son and grandchildren for 8 1/2 years now. It was initiated by a gatekeeper, in this case my daughter-in-law, who pushed me out of the family system with lies, mind control and manipulation. At best, her accusations are petty and not worthy of any consideration in the world of reality; at worst, they are an abuse of all that is true and decent and a sin against her children and, yes, me.
Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, I will turn my attention to forgiveness as a means of dealing with my angst. Because, as much as I’ve been hurt by her insanity and cruelty, her behavior is not my concern. I didn’t cause it, I can’t control it or cure it. The only thing left is for me to control and cure myself.
I have to forgive her. It is the only way.
Forgiveness doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a process and can be quite daunting. It takes time, attention and practice. Our thoughts are powerful and every thought has its consequences. When we stay angry, or feeling like a victim, we suffer. When we decide to forgive someone, we choose to reinterpret events and to see the person who hurt us in a different light. We choose to see them as troubled and experiencing their own pain and difficulties in life. We don’t approve of what they’ve done, nor do we want to hang out with them, but we give them a break in order to give ourselves a break. We forgive them so that we can let go of them.
I’m thinking about my grandchildren today and the fun they must be having at their lake house. I’m thinking about the beautiful, green summer day, the boat rides, the apple pie, the watermelon, the laughter, the love and all that I am missing.
I must forgive my son and daughter-in-law for the devastation they have wrought in my life, which is one of the most challenging and difficult things I’ve ever had to do. But if I don’t forgive them, I will forever be their prisoner.
The fireworks are at full blast now. I hope my dog can breathe underneath the blanket. But, once the worst is over, he’ll emerge, seeking light and fresh air again.
I know the feeling.