What life lesson would you want to share?
Welcome back to another Bloganuary post. The prompt is now available and I am excited to write again for you. If you haven’t read it already, be sure to check back to yesterday’s post for more fun answers, or take a read of all of my Bloganuary posts under the ‘Bloganuary’ category in the right-hand menu.
What Is Bloganuary?
A fun and quirky amalgamation of ‘blog’ and ‘January’ (obviously), Bloganuary is a brand new tag award run by WordPress. Every day, a question or prompt can be sent to you for you to answer on your blog, however you so please. Why wait? Get involved with other bloggers, make new connections, reach new audiences and drive more traffic to your site today!
Fancy taking part in the Bloganuary tag? Click here.
And now, let’s begin…
Day 15: What is a life lesson you feel everyone can benefit from learning?
To err is human; to forgive, divine.
On the back of everything going on in my life recently, I feel like the ability to be able to forgive others (and ourselves) is both a valuable gift and a life lesson. It reduces stress, heals hurt and it allows us to move on.
And on that note, here are a couple of life stories for you.
I was baptised as a Church of England Christian. I used to have to attend church every Sunday and had close relations with my local church. I attended a Church of England school which was, unfortunately, also where I got sexually assaulted for the first time. I remember having to learn the Lord’s Prayer to perfection.
If you’re a Christian, you’ll know that part of the Lord’s Prayer reads “forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us”. Even as I drifted away from the church, my ability and willingness to forgive those who had wronged me never went away.
Now for today’s main story.
In 2000, I attended a local comprehensive school where I made friends with a girl, we’ll call her C. C was a bigger girl, she had short hair, yellow, decaying teeth and terrible body odour. Despite that, C was a sweet girl.
C used to sit next to me in a number of our classes and we used to work together. C and I used to get along and we used to talk a lot. Unbeknown to me, despite her problems, C actually had a pretty wicked sense of humour. I supposed that we were like a pair of old grannies, always giggling and playfully bickering.
But I noticed that some of my pens were missing.
I knew that C had borrowed a pen sometimes and I didn’t really want to call her up on it, C had a temper and I’ll admit, I was a bit scared. I’ll also admit, I did start to lie to C and I’d tell her sometimes that I didn’t have a spare pen with me, it was sort of the grey area between losing more pens or losing my friend.
C and I were friends right up until I moved school. She used to get bullied badly for her body odour, but to her credit, she used to give as good as she’d get. She never shouted at me or hit me, she never felt that she had a need to, she only used to pick on the kids who picked on her.
In my mind, I can still see the one that she pinned to the wall next to the water fountain!
I lost all contact with C and assumed that I’d never see her again. I made new friends at my new school, I also had my own problems there.
It was in 2011 and in my local ASDA store that it happened.
“Helen! Alright? I haven’t seen you in ages!”
It was C.
C and I caught up and she introduced me to her son, A, who was still a toddler at the time. We chatted life and relationships and I showed off my engagement ring, telling her all about Matt and how we’d just moved into our own home. We talked some more and that was when we discovered it; C now lived barely 500 metres away from me.
After that, C and I hung out often. She’d visit me with her son and I would adopt him like one of my own. A adopted me as “Aunty Helen”, though sometimes he used to get confused and we’d be “Uncle Helen”” and “Aunty Matt” instead!
C was a godsend in the run-up to our wedding. I started to swim for fitness and C was right there with me. We’d swim two abreast and chat as we did, usually swimming as much as a kilometre in a single session. She’d remind me to eat healthier, help me with the wedding preparations and planning and console me when the wedding nerves kicked in. I asked C to be one of my bridesmaids, and I was honoured when she said yes.
C was also the first time that I had a crush on another girl. It didn’t matter what she looked like, it was her personality that won me over. She was smart, rational, sweet, funny, devilish, almost the mirror image of me. It was the way she looked at me, the way her wide blue eyes sparkled with mischief. I wanted her in ways that even I didn’t quite fully understand back then.
But C saw me more like a sister.
C and I stayed friends for long after the wedding. C discovered that I was kinky, and I discovered that she was kinky, too. Kink became a common topic for us after that.
“Last night was a fun night” she’d say quietly, she’d give me that coquettish look as she drew on her cigarette.
“Care to share?” I’d ask.
“Nah, you’ve got your own” she’d reply. I’d smile at her and shake my head.
Such a tease.
I can still recall that day. Her son had peeled a decorative banner off of the wall and her father had threatened to beat him “black and blue”. That was the first time that I realised things weren’t nearly so rosy at home.
I took C in, and I took A in, too. I bought an air mattress and a travel cot and set them up in my lounge. I cooked for them, washed for them, helped C apply for emergency housing and went to the appointments with her. I was very protective of her.
In the end, she still went back home.
Her boyfriend, J, was equally physically abusive. She told me about the time that he had choked her because she’d yelled at him for slapping A and I encouraged her to get out straight away. Again I was there for support, again I offered her a safe space. Again I was there when she considered prosecuting him.
And again she went back to him.
In 2016, I experienced a domestic fire. I got moved into emergency accommodation and fought life and limb to stay in my new home. After many letters back and forth, I won that legal battle a few months later.
C started visiting me in my new home but the walk was much further for her to go – perhaps double what it used to be. She’d never have me visit her, even if I’d said I didn’t mind. Her parents were kleptomaniacs, and C was ashamed of it.
As A grew up, his behaviour got more and more out of control. A started hitting and swearing and he would behave however he wanted to. I knew that A wasn’t my son, but in my home, I knew how I wanted him to behave.
And each and every time, the message that I got was the same.
“Sorry about that”, followed by a giggle.
I couldn’t let C just be sorry. A was upsetting Hugo, and I knew that if provoked, Hugo could snap and bite A. It was my job as Hugo’s owner to prevent him from biting A, and now, it seemed, also my job to stop A provoking Hugo. Sorry wasn’t good enough, I needed more.
C was also spending more and more time with J, often missing out on our arranged catch-ups and telling me that she’d forgotten, usually in a text the next day. I could forgive and forget the first few times, but it started happening more and more.
In the end, the cons of the friendship far outweighed the pros, and so I decided to let C go.
The last time that I saw C, she turned up to buy some things from me that I was selling on a Facebook selling group. A had soiled himself and was now quite happily running around my lounge after Hugo while C and I talked. Before she left, A was punching and kicking C on my doorstep because he was bored.
“Sorry about that” she’d say each time he distracted her from our conversation.
Letting go of C was hard and I often questioned my decision, and yet, the difference that it made to my life was noticeable. My home was no longer a mess because A wasn’t tearing through it, I had more time because I wasn’t sat around wondering whether C was going to turn up, I was also able to focus on my own problems instead of fixing someone else’s. I felt bad for ending the friendship but at the same time I felt better, good, more in control.
I also found it in me to forgive C.
C is not a bad person. C had a rough upbringing, she evidently has a rough boyfriend, but that doesn’t make it about her. C needs different and she needs to learn different, but that’s also something that she has to learn in her own time. No, I couldn’t hold that against her. I forgave her. I forgave C.
And so in lies today’s lesson. Forgive others as you would wish to be forgiven. Find common humanity with others and treat them as you would wish to be treated. Forgive often, but never be afraid to set boundaries.
It’s easy to go through our lives holding onto past grudges and yet, when we forgive people for upsetting us or hurting us, life somehow becomes easier. You’re able to focus on your real problems because your judgement isn’t clouded by what your enemies have done to you. You find peace and calm again, your body relaxes, living is easier, sleep is better.
Forgiving doesn’t mean forgetting and it doesn’t mean letting the other person hurt you again. You can forgive and forget, or you can forgive but never forget. Forgiveness isn’t to say that you’re over the hurt that the other person has caused you, it just means to say that you’re not going to keep holding on.
That’s it from me for today Twisties! Don’t forget to come back tomorrow for my next Bloganuary post!
Until next time,
Stay safe & have fun,