Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Life in the Real World

Going back to my first co-op session, that spring semester...  All my life, it's like I lived under two different sets of rules.  There was one set of rules for school, where the teachers kept discipline without corporal punishment, and a different set of rules at home.

Later, we watched a video much like this in my Marriage and Family Relations class:

And that's a lot like what home life was like.  Lessons that took a LONG time to forget and get over.

But I wasn't consciously thinking about that, at first, out in St. Louis.  I was just trying to figure out my life.  All of a sudden, I got to choose where I went, once my work obligation was done.  I didn't have to take into account what my fiance wanted to do, he was still back on campus.  I could choose where I walked, what I read, what I ate, it was all up to me.

It only took a couple of weeks at work to realize that I was... jumpy.  Overreacting to little things.  Flinching and blocking any time I made a mistake.

Something was wrong, and I could not live like that.  So I started reading for what could help.

Remember that, as a Brat, most of the time my extended family, the aunts & uncles & cousins, live more than a 10-hour drive away.  The rare times that they or we visited, everyone was usually on their best behavior.  I didn't know any of them well enough to *really* talk to.  So, years later, my aunts would ask why I don't just forgive.  After all, isn't that what Jesus taught?  Forgiveness.

Well, as Lent came around, I tried that.  I decided that was the year I was going to forgive.  I discovered it was not nearly that easy.

My reactions were visceral, instinct.  Fear was written into the way I moved, the way I breathed.

I mentioned my junior high classmates who liked to talk about the importance of nonconformists.  Well, I liked to talk about a big word in those days, too.  The word I used was psychosomatic, the concept that what the mind and body are connected, that what affects one affects the other, and vice versa.

So one of the books I checked out during Lent was a book on bodywork, that talked about all the many types of bodywork out there, including massage, yoga, and martial arts.

I had wanted to study martial arts in high school, but I didn't have enough spending money to do it then.  I still didn't have a car to get to classes yet, that was my priority this semester, but I knew that I would start looking for the right time / opportunity to begin practicing.

Years later, I found "Women Who Run With the Wolves."  On pages 370-372, Estes describes four stages of forgiveness.  First is to forego, to leave it alone, go do something else for a while.  Second is to forebear, practice patience and not punishing.  Third is to forget, or refuse to dwell on it, to focus on the positive and "now" instead of then.  Fourth is forgiveness, and Estes writes a whole lot about that, about the many forms that forgiveness can take.  Her point being that it is the survivor's decision, how forgiveness looks:
"You can forgive for now, forgive till then, forgive till the next time, forgive but give no more chances--it's a whole new game if there's another incident.  You can give one more chance, give several more chances, give many chances, give chances only if.  You can forgive part, all, or half of the offense.  You can devise a blanket forgiveness.  You decide.
"How does one know if she has forgiven?  You tend to feel sorrow over the circumstances instead of rage, you tend to feel sorry for the person rather than angry with him. You tend to have nothing left to remember to say about it all.  You understand the suffering that drove the offense to begin with. You prefer to remain outside the milieu. You are not waiting for anything.  You are not wanting anything.  There is no lariat snare around your ankle stretching from way back there to here. You are free to go.  It may not have turned out to be a happily ever after, but most certainly there is now a fresh Once upon a time waiting for you from this day forward."  (pp. 372-373)