Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Letting Go

I’ve written in the past about incidents that occurred with people in my life that have held me in a state of angst… some silly, and some that have caused quite a moral dilemma.

Although none of these situations have occurred between me and a close, personal friend or family member, they have weighed on my mind and caused me to behave in ways that actually bother me even more than the issue itself – like not returning phone calls of those who have upset me and talking negatively about someone.  How do you just let go of these things and move on?

When I was a kid, my mother had an aunt who apparently was a bit of a trouble maker. We called her the professional mourner because no one ever heard from her, but when someone died, she would show up at the funeral and cry, loudly. Apparently she and her daughter did not speak for years. There was some rumor that the mother was after the daughter’s husband (although I couldn’t see that happening), but I never really learned what it was that caused this mother and daughter to go without speaking for so long. I do remember wondering at the time what would ever be so bad that it could keep a family apart and how incredibly sad the whole situation was.

I often wonder about how a person can carry a grudge against a family member, or what used to be an old dear friend, for so many years. As I think about people that I know who have had falling-outs with others that I have also known, you can see the affect it causes among the immediate social network. I find myself trying to accommodate one friend to the exclusion of another – leaving me feeling bad. I can only imagine what that does to families where one member doesn’t speak to the other.

Eckart Tolle in his book, “The New Earth”, says it is the ego that keeps us trapped in thoughts and emotions that propagate these long term grievances. He theorizes about how the ego strengthens itself through complaining, name-calling, resentment and sometimes violence. While charged with these emotions, we tend to become reactive, looking for opportunities to reinforce our opinions, or resentment, our need to be right. Imagine how long term grievances or grudges can change and manifest over time, given the opportunity for us to revisit the subject and apply new issues and resentments on top of the old – do we even really know why we were offended or put off in the first place?

The story must eventually become so diluted, our story being reinforced by years of negative reinforcement – our ego being strengthened – by us being right, the other being so wrong. When do we stop defending the truth and start defending ourselves? When does the offense become so ingrained that it becomes part of our identity, adding a weird sense of value (and drama) to what might be seen as an otherwise humdrum existence?

The fear is that we become creatures of our conflicts, identifying with our rightness in situations, looking for sympathy and validation rather than being whole, pro-active beings, living and enjoying each day for what it brings. (Ok, a little melodramatic here - but it sure does zap a whole lot of energy!)

I am starting to re-evaluate a few of those things that have been weighing on my mind  – trying to break them down to identify what really caused me angst in the first place – and to understand the emotions and personal needs that caused me to make certain decisions or take offense in the first place. We all have stories, but rather than try to create one for someone else, I’m working on flushing out the root cause of my own actions.

It’s been another good week. I’ve been taking steroids over a period of four days after my treatments and they are keeping me in good spirits and make me feel much better physically. I go for my scans tomorrow, and then Thierry and I leave for South Miami Beach on Thursday (yeah!), and are looking forward to some fun in the sun!


patagonie said...

Dear Mary, The things you discribe are also on my mind, why do people do what they do to each other? My little theory is that it is hard to take all the responsability for our own acts. To say sorry, or to stand for your own actions: good of bad. Sometimes it is 'easier' to blame the other...
Have fun on the boat!! Good weather and good winds! 'Liefs', also for Thierry, from Amsterdam Frederique & Bert

Mary B said...

Hi Frederique and Bert: Unfortunately we had to take a plane to Miami - Curlew is resting for the winter! Maybe next year!

ann mcn said...


How timely and relevant a topic. Thank you for talking about it here.

You have touched on something that has always puzzled me, as well. I have never understood why people stop speaking to one another as some of my family members have done. Recently I had decided it was simply a person’s inability to forgive. After reading your post, I’m coming to understand that ego certainly plays a part, probably a big part. Some of my friends have told me stories about how they have been effected by others who treat them with silence. I am realizing that the silence is used as a way to control the other person as well.

What a waste of time, energy and feelings! And so self-limiting. When a person cuts another out with silence, I image that the ‘cutter’ remains stuck in the old feeling, unable to move on, grow and mature. What a waste of life!

I’m a big believer in forgive and forget. Hard as it is, I don’t want to waste my time on bitterness. It’s how I now choose my friends who share my belief, people like you. Mary!

Bless you again for bringing up this discussion.
Luv ya…ann

jeannine said...

Dear Mary&Thierry, Wish you lots of fun in Miami!mmmm sun, here we have snow!Much love, Jeannine&Carl