When You Don’t Want To Forgive, Do It Anyway.

Forgive. It is a powerful word. To forgive basically means to accept, and move past what you feel was an injustice to your sensibilities. The word forgive is terrifying at times, because it means letting our guard down – letting someone off the hook for something we feel is unforgivable. We feel that if we refuse to let this person off the hook, they will continue suffering. The trouble is, this way of thinking is completely backwards.

By holding a grudge – we only hurt ourselves. Period.

When I was 8 months pregnant with Chloe, I was shopping at Target. Kaiden was sitting in the cart and I was looking at some Christmas gifts in one of the aisles. Some crazy lady decided I was in her way, and instead of asking me to move, she proceeded to ram her cart into the back of my ankles.

I wish I could tell you that this was a made up story – it’s not. I turned around in shock and the woman avoided eye contact and pushed her way past my cart, scraping up against the side of it as she did. Now at this point – I am 8 months pregnant and a woman of God, not to mention I have my 1 year old in my cart. She is lucky, because had she pulled this crap prior to my new way of life; I would have tackled her like an NFL player and choked her out with Christmas lights.

But I don’t live like that anymore. So what did I do? Nothing – abso-freakin-lutely nothing.

Wanting to avoid confrontation, I bit my tongue and continued my shopping. Within minutes I found myself stewing about this woman’s brazenness. I’d pick up a coffee cup with reindeer on it and say under my breath to no one in particular, “You believe this b****?” “No she didn’t” “She’s lucky I’m pregnant I’ll tell you that”.

I was literally walking around this store plotting this ladies death, meanwhile she was probably picking out denture adhesive not even giving me a second thought.

Would I have felt better if I had stood up for myself and cussed her out? Perhaps. But opening that door might have taken me to a place I didn’t want to be. I could see it now: “Next up on the 5 o’clock news, a pregnant woman attacks an old woman at Target sending her into premature labor – and it’s all caught on film.”

This obviously wasn’t an option for me, and replaying it over and over in my head growing angrier each time wasn’t helping either. So you know what I did?

I accepted an apology that I never received.

That’s right, I accepted an apology that she never gave me and I forgave her for what she did. I have a choice, and I chose to control my emotions, as oppose to letting them control me.

Sometimes, people are unaware of the emotional havoc the may have wreaked within me, there will be times when I don’t receive an apology I deserve.

An apology is not a requirement for forgiveness.

We can forgive whoever we want, whenever we want, even if the person is completely oblivious to the fact that they have been pardoned.

Now this is just a small example of a situation. There are many times where people do unspeakable, and seemingly unforgivable things. I am not trying to minimize the other persons actions nor am I suggesting we run around and forgive every jerkface who has crossed us.

What I am saying is; when I find myself obsessing about a person I feel has hurt, cheated, deceived or angered me, and when it gets to a point where it is robbing me of my peace – I then evaluate the importance of the resentment I am harboring, and decide whether or not holding onto that hate is helping, or hindering me on my journey.

I truly believe that when you forgive someone (whether you feel they deserve it or not), you are releasing at least 10 pounds of dead weight.

It is our job to keep our minds healthy, and I don’t know about you, but I function much better when I keep the negative energy out, and invite happiness and positivity in. In order to do this, I have to choose to let go of things that no longer serve a purpose, for there is limited space in my mind and I would much rather use that space for something beneficial.

Someone once told me that ” resentment is the equivalent of lighting yourself on fire, so the other person dies of smoke inhalation” and I had to stop for a second and process this.  I had never thought about it that way and it ended up changing everything.

I have to remind myself that while I’m stewing about that ex-boyfriend who cheated on me, he is probably having the time of his life somewhere, not giving me a second thought. So screw him! Just kidding. I forgave him, and I carried on.

My point is, the ability to let go of something that feels really important to me is hard, but so is lugging around a backpack full of hate everywhere I go. I know now that forgiveness will never change the past; but it will absolutely, positively change the future. I have a choice of how I react and respond today, and I choose love – every time.

Now, having said all this I would just like to get something of my chest.  Hey lady at Target, if you’re reading this –  I’m not pregnant anymore. Cash me ousside how bah dah?!

Uninvited- A Letter To Cancer…

“Cancer is just a reminder that life is really precious.  So many people lose focus on what life is really all about.  Everyone needs to rid themselves the drama and enjoy everyday you wake up.”-  Pauly Half Jack LaRocgue.

Dear Cancer,

Apparently you exist because sometimes,  “abnormal cells divide uncontrollably and have the ability to infiltrate and destroy normal body tissue-causing cancer.” After witnessing your affects on a loved one, I would have worded this a tad bit differently. I would have said “abnormal cells divide uncontrollably and have the ability to infiltrate your life and destroy it- but I’m not in charge here.

I know how you work. You knock on the door, and push your way in-uninvited.  Our family will sit around and talk about you, wondering what brought you here, and how long you will stay.  We will discuss what happens if you decide to stay forever.  We will all cry together, praying that your visit will be short.

In the meantime, we will walk around carrying on, as if you are not here.  We will try our best to act as if we are not completely devastated by your presence. We will smile, and make small talk, in an attempt to avoid acknowledging your existence.  We will pretend that the uncertainty of your unexpected arrival isn’t crippling us with sadness.

You will inevitably destroy the world we spent a lifetime creating; and then you will vanish.  But you won’t go alone-you will take our most treasured love one with you, and we will never see them again in this world.

We will sit around wondering why the hell you chose us.  Why you chose them. You were unwelcome, and despite our best efforts, we were unable to get you to leave. You came suddenly, and like a tornado, you destroyed everything you touched – leaving behind only memories and ashes-along with thousands of broken pieces that we had to pick up one by one.  You were gone physically, but you continued to haunt us through vivid images of our loved ones slowly deteriorating, these will be forever ingrained in our mind.

I think it’s important that you know how your visit affected me……

Because of you, I lost all but one of my grandparents by age 22.

Because of you, I had to gently hold both my parents hands, and tell them “It’s okay to let go now. You don’t have to fight anymore. I will always love you forever, but I’m ready to let you go” as they struggled to breath their last breaths.

Because of you, I held the hands of both of my parents lifeless bodies.

Because of you, all I have left of the people that created and raised me-is a few ashes in a box.

Because of you my mother wasn’t at my wedding-nor will she ever meet my children.  I cannot call her and ask for marriage advice or help with a recipe. She is gone from this earth. I will never see her again as long as I am alive. I will never hear her contagiously loud laugh, or see her beautiful smile in person-because of you.

Because of you, my father will never meet my daughter.  He will never rake piles out of leaves for her to jump in, or ride her around the yard in a wheelbarrow, or scare her as he yells at the top of his lungs during a scary part of a movie-like he always did with me, because of you.

Because of you, I have an irrational fear that everyone I love is going to die, anytime they leave my sight.

Because of you, my life will never, ever be the same.

However…..

Because of you I am strong. You have made me realize that I am capable of overcoming more than I thought possible. You are big, but my faith is bigger.  You may have taken the majority of my family from me, but you will never be able to take my happiness. I know I will see my parents again one day, in another life; and when I do-I know they will tell me how proud they are of me, for not letting you destroy my faith.

Because of you I will hug my husband a little tighter, I will hold my babies a little longer, and I will tell everyone exactly how much they mean to me-any chance I get.  Because life is fleeting, and I know that at any moment, you may show up at my door again…..Uninvited.

Sincerely,

Tiffany

P.S.    You Suck.

Lonely girl on a chair
Lonely girl sitting on a vintage chair

 

 

 

 

 

If Anxiety & Paranoia had a lovechild, it would be me.

I have chewed my fingernails for as long as I can remember.  I don’t mean cute little “Aw, I’m nervous, let me give my nail a little nibble.” I mean, imagine my nails were bunny rabbits and my mouth a cheetah. I annihilate them. I mean, I really destroy them. I chew and chew until they are non-existent. I do this when I get nervous, and since I am nervous virtually every second of the day, they are horrendous to look at. Why am I telling you this disgusting fact about myself? Because this is one example of many, of how my anxiety manifests itself daily.

Many people don’t know that I suffer from anxiety, except those closest to me. In fact, I take medicine to keep my crippling anxiety at bay. I don’t advertise this part of me because it is actually a very dark place for me to be. I believe the stigma attached to these types of personality disorders has caused many people to sweep their issues under the rug, not seeking the proper treatment.  This can be a very dangerous thing.

This is why I have chosen to put the ugly truth about my generalized anxiety disorder here for…well, anyone to see….

Many people close to me have a hard time understanding why I react to things the way I do. It is difficult to make someone understand something, they have never felt. If you were to have a ball thrown at your face, you would throw your hands up and most likely try to duck.  That would probably be your knee-jerk reaction to that situation.  My knee-jerk reaction to almost every situation, is to stress, worry, and imagine the worst case scenario possible.  It’s automatic, and out of my control.

After reading this you will probably think I’m nuts. I’m prepared for that. You will most likely think I am overreacting and unreasonable, that’s ok too. The truth is however, that your potential reaction to my way of thinking, is the main reason a lot of people keep quiet, and suffer silently.  I am hoping to shed some light on this subject so that anyone else who may be dealing with this, can know they are not alone, I’m right there with you, and there is help available.

This is what it is like inside my anxious mind…….

My sister asks if she can take my son, her nephew to the park–  I say no, because if she were to get into a car accident with him, and he died, I could never forgive her.

My bonus daughter asks if she can go in our backyard, 2 feet from the back door, to play on our playground by herself I say no, because if someone were to come kidnap her when I looked away, I would never be able to live with myself.

My husband wants to give our baby a banana to tryI say no because I don’t want her to choke and die, we will just stick to baby food until she’s 15.

I leave my house 45 minutes early to pick my bonus daughter up for school- because being late to places kicks my anxiety into overdrive, so to avoid that feeling, I make sure I am 30 minutes early…….everywhere I go.

My mother in law wants to take my son for a sleep overI say no because he is not used to her bed and may fall off in his sleep, breaking his neck and becoming paralyzed.

If I have a stomach painI convince myself that my appendix just burst and I currently have poison filling my insides and am going to die within the hour.

If more than 2 people are talking at onceI feel like I am a soda bottle that has been shaken, and I am on the verge of exploding.

If you invite me somewhereI will smile and excitedly say yes.  When the day comes, I wake up dreading it, because it requires me to get myself ready and have conversations with people.  I will spend the entire night absorbing other peoples energy and entertaining small talk, and by the time I get home, I am utterly exhausted.

If I leave the house feeling self conscious about my hairI will spend the entire day watching every single person I walk past, to see if they look at my hair, then when they do, I will convince myself that they are thinking about how hideous it looks today, and that I never should have left the house looking like that.

If I tell my sister to call me later, and she doesn’tI will call her.  If she doesn’t answer, I automatically assume she has been kidnapped and murdered.  I even envision my reaction when the police will call to confirm my suspicions.

If someone asks to hold my babyI will stare at them the entire time so that when they drop her, I will be prepared to catch her.

If someone I don’t recognize knocks on my doorI grab a weapon with one hand and have 911 on speed dial with the other.

If I am lying in bed and hear a noiseI envision a robber coming to kill us all. I visually locate a weapon and mentally plan my sneak attack for when he comes in the room.

This probably sounds CRAZY to you right? I know. Trust me, it feels crazy.  Who the hell would want to live like that? I don’t think anyone would.  Yet, many people do.  Some people may have it easier than me, some, probably worse.  There are so many variations of anxiety disorders, each of them equally as difficult to live with.

The excessive, relentless, unrealistic fear that at any moment, terrible things are going to happen.  Most people can enjoy a day at the beach with their children, I will spend the entire day rolling them around in sunscreen and searching the water with binoculars for sharks.

The exact cause of generalized anxiety is not fully known, but a number of factors — including genetics, brain chemistry, and environmental stresses — appear to contribute to its development. I have been this way for as long as I can remember, and I’m certain that a lot of it has to do with the fact that I have lost both my parents, and all but one grandparent. Part of me recognizes that a loved one can be taken away in an instant, therefore I go to extreme and illogical measures, to keep my loved ones safe.

This is the first time I have ever shared this with anyone other than those closest to me.  Reading back to myself what I have written, and seeing my thought processes in black and white has been quite eye opening. I see how unreasonable my thought process is. I see how insane it must seem to outsiders.   I have laid my deepest fears and imperfections at the feet of anyone who chooses to read this, in hopes it will make someone realize they are not alone, and help others realize that we aren’t just being “worry warts” who need to “relax” and “calm down”, trust me, if we could, we would.

I have started meditating and praying and it has helped tremendously.  The problem stems from my need to control, and in reality, nothing is in control….I cannot control the wind, the time, the flow of traffic, gravity, the weather or anyone other than myself. I need to recognize this, and let. it. go.

In the meantime, I need people to understand that we are not faking it, it is very, very real.  We need less criticism and judgement, and more love and support.  If you know someone who suffers from anxiety (and I really do mean “suffers”) don’t downplay it, don’t make them feel foolish, or crazy.  Ask how you can help and let them know you are there for them.  It is very difficult to live this way, but having a strong support system makes all the difference in the world.

 

 

The Next Time…….

So, here’s a random fact about me. I smile at every single person I make eye contact with, everywhere I go. Sometimes, I smile at them like a creep UNTIL they make eye contact with me. A lot of time this results in women pulling their children closer and picking up the pace of their step while nervously glancing back over their shoulders at me… However, I feel like it’s important. I feel like this world has become SO accustomed to having tunnel vision, walking in a straight, deliberate line, focused only on what they are doing now, and sometimes what they are doing next at the same time.

We forget that the whole purpose of life, whether you believe it or not, is to love, and be good to those around you.  We become laser focused on getting from point A to point B, on working our a***es off so that we can afford to keep lights on, focused on saying the right things, being in the right places, at the right times, that we forget to STOP. Look around. Take a BIG deep breath of fresh air and be in the moment. We forget that we only have ONE shot at life, there are no do-overs…We forget to relax, be still, be present, and we forget, that it’s nice to acknowledge, and smile at the fellow human beings hustling and bustling alongside us on this planet.

Which brings me to another random fact about myself….

I am constantly trying to improve. I have the brain of an addict, which means my thought process takes a zig zaggy course, in comparison to most.  Therefore it is imperative that I remain diligent in self-awareness.

So I have a little trick I use while going about my day and I’d like to share it with you, because I whole heartedly believe that if you try it, it just may mean the difference between you having a good day, and a bad day……You have to use your imagination and be open minded, but if you take the time to do it, it could potentially change EVERYTHING.

The next time someone is driving slow in front of you, instead of allowing yourself to begin filling with rage, instead of becoming shaky, and screaming inside your car, releasing toxic energy into the universe, take a breath and think about the person driving that car.

What if…..hear me out, what IF, they are in town for their fathers funeral, they have their Gps on and it’s taking them in the wrong direction.  Their heart is shattered into a million pieces and now they are lost, in a strange town. They have slowed their pace in an attempt to locate the correct street.  By happenstance, you are the car traveling behind them.  You can either ride their a**, be a jerkface and add to the already overwhelming anxiety they are feeling, or you can just be f***ing cool and let it go.

You have a choice.

The next time you see a homeless guy on the side of the road.  Observe his clothes, they are probably torn, with signs of extended wear.  Maybe he has shoes on, maybe he’s barefoot. Witness his face, leathery and dark, from years of having no shelter, no walls to protect him, no roof to shield him from the harsh rays of the sun. His hair, probably disheveled and unkempt, most likely hasn’t felt the sensation of hot, soapy water  flowing through it, cascading down his skin, washing away the filth of a long day, in longer than you can imagine.  Most will scoff at his presence from the comfort of their air conditioned vehicle. Most will say something along the lines of “Get a f***ing job you bum.  It’s your own fault”…..While it may seem obvious to us that an income may improve his situation, there are circumstances surrounding his life which we have no knowledge of.

Instead of mocking, belittling and judging this person, imagine them as a child.  Imagine him running alongside his dog, tossing a stick off into the distance while gleefully giggling, his face to the sky, not knowing that the beautiful rays of sunshine illuminating this glorious day for him, will one day beat down on his face until it’s virtually unrecognizable to those who know him. Imagine him in high school, leaned casually up against a set of metal lockers, smiling and conversing with his love interest about the upcoming basketball game while his heart pounds to the beat of teenage love..  Maybe he went on to join the service, risking his life for our country, only to come home broken inside.  Unsure of how to cope with the ghastly images forever imprinted into his fragile mind, he turns to alcohol and it takes ahold of him…. and never lets it go.

Once you have imagined all this. Look at him again. Look at him with fresh eyes and a new perspective. Be kind. Wave to him. Acknowledge him.  Say a prayer for him. But whatever you do, don’t be hateful…

The next time someone pulls out in front of you causing you to lean on the brakes to avoid colliding with the back of their car, instead of exclaiming “Sonofab*** ! Learn how to drive a**hole!”… just chalk it up as a mistake, and let it go. Don’t allow one moment in time to rob you of your peace of mind.  I’m certain you yourself have pulled out in front of others, only to find them accelerating in an attempt to make you feel pressured to speed up…let it go.

The next time a server brings you your meal, and it’s not exactly what you had in mind, instead of making her feel like she just murdered a baby kitten in the middle of a daycare center….politely ask for a replacement and assure her that she is wonderful and mistakes happen.

The next time you want to roll your eyes at the man in front of you for taking forever to purchase his cigarettes with dimes and nickels, be grateful that you have a wallet containing dollar bills and do not have to deal with the shame associated with having to hold up a line while a disdainful cashier meticulously counts out 5 dollars worth of your change.

The next time you are at the grocery store and there is a woman behind you and your cart full of overflowing groceries in line, and she is merely holding eggs and milk, request she takes your place in line. Why? Because its a cool thing to do and 3 extra minutes won’t kill you.

The next time someone steals your parking spot, park a few spaces down, get a little  fresh air and exercise. Be grateful that you have working legs to walk you up to the store.

The next time you wake up in the morning, cursing out at the sky because you don’t want to work today and wish you could just stay home and do nothing, remember there are people who would LOVE to be able to work and afford to have things. They instead live on the side of a street, with leathery skin, tattered clothing and no shoes, getting ridiculed day in, and day out…..

Change your perspective..

Be aware of your surroundings…

Pick your battles…

Be kind…

Be gracious…

Be cool….

And the next time you want to be an a**hole……don’t.

heart-shaped-world