We’ve been at the beach for four days now. More times than I can count I’ve dove in the ocean or the pool only to kick my way to the surface seconds later. The moment I break the surface of the water and take a breath always feel a little magical.
It’s how I feel right now. I feel like I’m breaking the surface of this funk. I’m coming up for air.
It feels so, so good.
It feels like I’m letting things go. It feels like I’m moving on. It feels like I’m finding my balance.
Of course, JUST when you get your balance life has a way of shoving you off your feet. Yesterday, at the pool, I had pulled Amos with me into the deep end to practice his swimming. He has been fighting us tooth and nail all summer, but we’d forgotten his floaties and I decided now was my chance.
He cried and hollered. I told him he knew how to blow bubbles and hold his breath that I’ve seen him do it all summer. I dropped his underwater a few times and sure enough he did exactly what I thought he would do. He held his breath and blew his bubbles.
Still, he’s a stubborn kid and he kept fighting me. I stayed calm. I told him I could stand here all day and that his friends were having fun and he could join them if he tried. I told him he was a big strong boy and I knew he could do it.
He calmed down a little but the second he’d go underwater he’d freak out again and grasp for me. I never let him go. He never choked, but he still kept fighting me.
Finally, a lady came over and said, “If you dunk him one more time, I’m going to report you. I’m a licensed reporter. That is not the way to do it and everyone is watching. I’m DISGUSTED.”
I just stood there. Speechless. Amos in my arms. Then, I went to the steps and kept practicing with Amos, who finally agreed to go under water if I went with him.
Meanwhile, I was in a full blown shame spiral. I felt terrible. Maybe I was pushing Amos too hard? Maybe I was going about it the wrong way?
I wanted it to be simple. She was a bitch and I was doing nothing wrong and that was the end of it.
I’ve had a lot of confrontations with friends and some strangers over the past few years. Confrontations that still haunt me when – like now – I’m feeling vulnerable. They’re old wounds I like to reopen when I’m feeling sorry for myself. Broken friendships. Hurtful comments. Tokens of my failings I spread out on the table to prove I’m actually as terrible as I feel.
I want my own personal brand of closure for each one. I want the person to sit down and apologize for hurting me and it has taken me so, so long to realize that is not EVER going to happen.
It wouldn’t matter if it did. It’s almost never as simple as they were wrong and I was right. I wish it was.
In an interesting twist, it was a book on organizing that finally helped me see the light. In The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Marie Kondo states simply,
Not every person you meet in life will become a close friend or lover. Some you will find hard to get along with or impossible to like. But these people, too, teach you the precious lesson of who you do like, so that you will appreciate those special people even more.
I want every friend to be my best friend. I want every stranger – including the lady at the pool - to see my parenting and think I’m the BEST.
Alas, it doesn’t work like that. Some people are only around for seasons. Some are meant to teach you valuable lessons.
The biggest lesson I need to learn is forgiveness - whether I get my cathartic closure or not. The first thing Annie says every time I come to her complaining about the latest insult or insensitivity is "Have you forgiven them?" I know she's right and I know it will be a struggle.
Forgiveness is so hard because I'm unforgiving of myself. I've beat myself up all day about the pool fiasco. Telling myself I was wrong. Telling myself I traumatized Amos.
Instead, I should acknowledge the complexity of the situation. I was not at my best and neither was she I'm guessing. I'm still a good mother and she's probably a good person.
I can't control anything about that woman or anyone else who has hurt me in the past. All I can do is choose to learn a lesson, practice forgiveness, and move. on.