Lessons From My Parents.

I’ve learned a lot from my parents in my 21 years. They taught me the obvious things such as how to ride a bike, how to read and count, how to love imperfectly because none of us are perfect. They also taught me lessons that they didn’t realize they were teaching. I wasn’t big on fighting with my parents; I think I’ve only ever yelled in anger at my dad once and my mom twice.  However, I did watch my sister fight with them and I learned a lot about how they reacted and dealt with her. They taught me that sinking to someone’s level is never admirable. They taught me that holding a grudge only makes me bitter. They taught me that talking badly about other people reflects more of yourself than it does the other person. And they taught me how to take things really, really personally.

Letting things go has been hard for all three of us; Dad, Mom, and I. We all hold onto our pride, swallow our secrets, and hold onto the bitter aftertaste until it drives us to such insanity that we forget what we were even upset about. Siblings and friends have shared words that my parents said about me. Not nice words. Not mean words. Just two factual sentences in a negative context that I still cry about when I’m feeling overwhelmed and hurt.  The two sentences were these: “She never finishes anything she starts.” and “She never takes the blame for her own actions. Never apologizes, just finds a way to justify her actions in her own mind.” For a long time, I held onto these and used them as little bits of ammunition whenever I wanted a reason to blame someone else for why I was scared, hurt, upset, stressed, right, wrong, anything that made me feel like I wasn’t on my way to the top of the free world. Yesterday I decided I’m letting it go. My parents have changed in the last few years, both have become more accepting of themselves and others and each other.

Hearing someone who I want to be proud of me say I never finish anything I start hurt a lot. I figured “I said I was going to travel and I did. I started a teaching course and I finished it in half the time expected. What have I started that I haven’t finished?” Instead of holding grudges and thinking they are wrong, I’ve thought about the words, I’ve compared them to my present life, and I’m going to make those words no longer be true. I’m a dreamer. I speak of vast dreams and travels, careers and lives that I want but I can’t have them all because they aren’t compatible. I’m not going to start dreaming smaller, I’m going dream more realistically. That way, whatever I start, I can finish.
The words “She never takes the blame for her own actions.” seemed ironic to me because I learned that from the parent who said it. I’ve always thought that they blamed everyone else for their issues with people and never tried hard enough. They preached that the phone works both ways, yet they never pick it up to make the first call. I had actually forgot about this statement until I was reading an old journal and found it. I asked a friend if they thought it was true, do I pass the blame. They said I beat around the bush until I don’t really have to apologize because I’ve justified my words or actions. That made me think about any situation, because I had honestly thought I apologized for everything. And I do. I bump into someone, I apologize. Someone walks into me, I apologize. I need to get around someone, I apologize. “Sorry.” isn’t my way of asking for forgiveness and admitting my mess-up. “Sorry” is apparently my way of saying “excuse me.”, “excuse you.” or “hey.” I haven’t really figured out a way to change this habit other than being really aware of the situations I am in when I say sorry and if I really need to justify my actions. I’m still a little lost as to what was meant when those words were said, but obviously its something I should be aware of. The biggest lesson my parents taught me and I am still learning, is how to apologize. I have one parent who barely apologizes, and another who over apologizes. Someone got Ebola, “I’m so sorry, I must have done something wrong.” compared to “You have proof that I did this. But it’s not my fault.”

Now there is a new lesson that I think we are all learning; Dad, Mom, and I. The value in letting the past go and moving forward. It’s the hardest lesson because it involves a lot of pride and letting go of everything we’ve ever used to fuel our bitterness and anger.  My favourite quotes from my parents are always relevant in every situation:

“Life’s not fair. Get used to it.”
“We never stop learning, even after high school.”

I will probably have to let go of the same thing a few times before its really all forgotten, but in a year I’m going to wish I had started today.
Breathe, World. Thank you for reading.
All my love,
Sarah.

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