I’m better at reflecting backward than projecting forward. And while I have intentions for the new year (buy enough tampons each month, learn to cook tofu, wear a real bra once a month), I’d rather reflect on what happened this year.
Turns out, 2012 was the year for forgiveness even though that wasn’t my stated intention a year ago. But I started a new running route along Milwaukee Avenue and started noticing the graffiti. I kept seeing the word “forgive” scribbled in unexpected places. I’ve found it scribbled over 3 dozen different surfaces around Chicago.
New gang symbol? Maybe. But every time I found it, I took a picture and then took the seven letters as a personal challenge.
What could I forgive?
Here’s some of the forgivenesses I worked on through the year:
I forgive myself for snapping at the kids and for the bigger stuff too– not being grateful for them exactly as they are and not loving them as unconditionally as they deserve.
I forgive my kids for having little wills of their own and shattering my fantasies that I could dress them how I wanted for as long as I wanted.
I forgive my therapist for his extensive vacations and for having a life and other patients besides me; I forgive him for letting me grow up and away from him.
I forgive the world for scaring the hell out of me; for making it hard to trust and let go. Ditto for Nature, who can be a really scary prick sometimes.
I forgive my breasts for being almost 40 years old and refusing to defy gravity.
I forgive my stomach for pooching out and being soft and flabby.
I forgive myself for being the kind of person who has to forgive her own damn body parts.
I forgive myself for coming so late to blogging/writing, especially now that everything I’d ever want to say has been said.
And those people who haven’t liked my Facebook page– I forgive them too.
I forgive my friends for starting their own blogs which forced me to look inside my tiny petty heart and ask tough questions about my character, not like the answers I found therein, and then work to become a better person. I forgive the people I love for having talent that surpasses mine and passion I cannot match. I forgive my friends who got “there” before me and I forgive those that make me lead the way.
I forgive everyone who has thinner legs than I do, and everyone who can eat whatever she wants and still be a size 4, and people who just don’t care about the things that make up my personal demons.
I forgive the schools that declined to admit my children, and those that declined to admit me decades ago.
I forgive my parents the outrageous sin of being human. I forgive them for not being more uniquely screwed up (because that would make my future memoir infinitely easier to write).
I forgive my husband for being better than I at so many things except for gift giving, and I forgive him for being only average at that.
I forgive myself for being shallow and materialistic and unable to sustain a meditation practice or a budget.
I forgive whoever in my family tree is responsible for alcoholism and all its ravages. I forgive the deprivation, the repression, and the poverty (physical, emotional and spiritual).
I forgive the tiny slights I still carry with me.
I forgive the assholes who cut me off when I cross the street and whoever taught my kid about shooting.
I forgive the NRA and politicians and the right-wing and haters on all sides.
I forgive Eva Mendes for dating Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone for dating Andrew Garfield.
I forgive Trader Joe’s for not making tomato basil soup in the summer, and I forgive the frozen yogurt store by my house for closing this winter.
I forgive Patraeus, and Armstrong, and Woods, and Herman Cain.
Sometimes I can forgive myself the unspeakable– for my dark thoughts and my survivor’s guilt and my self-absorption and my lusty greed for accomplishment. Sometimes I can forgive others for that too.
I run, I read the 7 letters, and I forgive. And as I do, I grow lighter and freer for a while. Just as I start to harden again, I see another scribble and forgive all over again. I am grateful for the gritty urban reminders to open my heart, to let go, and to let new life in. I’m grateful to forgive.