Over dinner with a friend tonight we discussed this very concept: how to take responsibility...responsibly and forgive yourself. I have recently been in a vague back and forth conversation with a long-time friend. (I say vague, because email was an inappropriate venue to have the level of conversation that this demanded.) Throughout the dialogue, my friend spewed ill-fitting judgements my way. Clearly she was angry and I would agree that her concerns were valid. However, her tone jarred me.
She didn't hold back in her email. Released accusations and shot daggers at my attempt to gently communicate. It was a strange, yet familiar discomfort. I've known her for a long time so this anger was nothing new to me. What was new, was my reaction to it. I'm no longer in a place where I wish to defend myself with that same level of anger. And however righteous she might have been, I'd rather not respond to venom with venom. But...here's the rub: I've held onto her story.
Her disappointment in me made me pivot and I beat up on myself with guilt worse than she did with words. In taking responsibility, I went into a self-condemnation space. No one deserves to be subjected to that. Guilt is a motherf*&%er! Ironically, a few days later, I had another conversation where I made myself vulnerable to someone and again, held onto the guilt that resulted from this level of intimacy. In essence, I've managed to wear the victim-crown; chastising myself and bemoaning my actions after the fact.
How do we forgive and let go? These are the million-dollar questions. What is it about me that enjoys carrying this dead-weight ? As I ask, the answer quickly comes to me: something about my spirit enjoys staying low. Ill-yuuucck! Let's say, something about my EGO enjoys staying low. I have a strong ego, most of us do. My ego is accustomed to discomfort, therefore in situations such as these, it surfaces determined to win. Ill-yuuuck-again!
And I can see it, feel it. My awareness is heightened. It's as if I'm a fly on the wall watching the self-sabotage. Remember the movie, The Blob? Remember the part where The Blob creeps toward the screen and grows with intensity? This is the Ego's strategy: saddle in frame-by-frame until it encompasses the entirety of the scene. Bullocks!
I'm not going to close this blog with the answer to the question, for I know that each of us has our own path. I will say however that my approach has been one of awareness. I notice that these situations have come into my life as a response to a previous conversation I had with God pertaining to friendship. There are no coincidences, you beautiful people out there. The ego would have me continue this destructive behavior. But I've said it here before: when you know better, you do better. Simply acknowledging it, limits the Ego's power. But it takes constant work (and more work when you think the work is done.)
As for the two conversations...I'm learning people everyday...and myself as well.