Thoughts to Ponder – July 9, 2015
“With rage in heart and clenched fists, you may feel invincible.
The truth is that you have never been weaker.”
Dr. Phil McGraw1
Life has a way of bringing our situations full circle. We face who we used to be and learn who we are now. This last week circumstances made me proud of whom I’ve become.
Many years ago I married a nice young man who said he loved me. I thought he was fun to be with, so I convinced myself that I loved him. I thought he would rescue me from my parents who set so many rules and made my life miserable. After our wedding we immediately moved across the U.S. to his military posting. We had some fun and some arguments.
After three children and several military assignments, we found that life was not so much fun and arguments were nearly non-stop. (Of course, none of this was my fault.) We parted ways, both carrying a great deal of anger and feeling fully justified in our actions. As often happens with divorced couples, our communications were rancorous and filled with threats. Eventually the children finished high school and we no longer needed to communicate. This gave us a good, long cooling off time. I could feel my anger lessen as time went by and I began to admit my contributions to the discord.
Our first visit eight years ago was touchy, but amicable. We were determined to put the past behind us. His wife and I became fast friends and I wondered where the man I had hated so many years had gone. Then he asked for directions to another relative’s city. Our daughters explained several times that he would need to go west several miles, then turn north to get there. No matter how many times they explained, he insisted, “I don’t want to go west and north. I want to go northwest.” I chuckled and said to myself. “Oh, he’s still in there.” As the years passed we’ve met a few more times with cautious conversation and our extended family has blended well.
Last weekend was the BIG event. His family always gathers for a reunion the first Sunday in July. I’ve been invited several times by various relatives, but always turned them down for fear I’d be considered an interloper or even be excoriated for my behavior. This year I decided it was time to face the crowd. I knew I had changed and thought I could handle the situation, whatever it turned out to be.
One daughter and family drove to the mountains in one vehicle. I rode with the other daughter and husband, not an auspicious beginning. Traffic jams and motion sickness reigned supreme. I spent a good part of the trip holding onto the headrest in front of me to keep from swaying and staring at it to avoid catching any movement out of the side of my eyes. Along the way I bought Dramamine but still maintained the same position until we reached our destination, feeling only slightly stable.
Of course, everyone there thought this was hilarious, but sympathized while trying to keep straight faces. As the agony dispersed I began to interact with those present and found I was having fun. The entire visit turned out to be much better than I expected. I did not keep myself sheltered emotionally, but let events happen as they would. Even frequent rainstorms did not dampen our spirits. We laughed at the children playing in the mud and cooked for many visitors. We enjoyed seeing old friends and relatives at the reunion until the rain washed out the event and we all ran for our cars.
I felt like I belonged with these wonderful people. Even the ex and I enjoyed a few laughs and “remember whens.” I knew then that we both have finally grown into the people we were supposed to be all those years ago before anger led us astray.
Oh, the trip back was much better. I took Dramamine before we left the hotel and followed their advice about resting my head against a stationary surface and keeping my eyes closed until we were out of the mountains. I’m looking forward to seeing them again – down here in the flat lands.
My conclusion was confirmed the next day at work. A man I’d never met before said, “I sense you are a calm person. You don’t have anger in you.” I didn’t know how to respond, but WOW! What a wonderful gift from a stranger!
Spirit, thank you for this gift of serenity after all those years of anger. And, so it is.
© by Sharon D. Dillon, July 9, 2015
1O, the Oprah Magazine, January 2015, pg. 41
Chesapeake Bay Writers, Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop, Southern Humorists, National Society of Newspaper Columnists
Author of “Twins! Oh no!,” one of 14 stories in The Book of Mom: Reflections of Motherhood with Love, Hope and Faith, published by booksyoucantrust.com. Available in print and e-format at Amazon.com