Tuesday, February 9, 2010

the thing about time

Is that it takes as long as it takes.

I've finally discovered the power of saying "NO" and meaning it.

And yes, I know I wrote the last post about forgiveness and being forgiven and all that, and maybe you'll say that writing this now is hypocritical of me, but bear with me, I have a point. The point is: Sometimes, in order to be able to forgive later, you have to protect yourself now.

(Not only from others, but from yourself. Seriously. At times, it's better to withdraw in silence than to let yourself keep talking.)

Before I became a mother, I didn't have anything much to protect. I never saw myself as anything worth defending. After everything I've been through in this life, what worse could anyone really do to me? You could harm my physical body, but you would never break my spirit. I've been beaten before. I've been harmed in ways you wouldn't wish on your worst enemy, both by other humans, and by strange circumstances, mentally and physically. The thing is, no matter what happens to you, no matter how life tries to crush you, you can't just lie there, you have to get back up. You have to keep moving. You have to get away. I'm good at getting back up.

Anyway, becoming a mother turned on a light switch for me. My son inspires me to joy, he inspires all of my love and all of my protective instincts. I want him to learn, to experience as much of the beauty this life has to offer as he can. I know that some harm will come to him along the way and that that is part of life and eventually attaining freedom and self-sufficiency, but in the meantime I am his protector and defender. I am his champion. It is my solemn duty, and great pleasure, to shield him from the worst this world has to offer for as long as I can.

When someone sets off my mother alarms through making comments about their hatred of children, or lying, or disrespecting me, or any number of things, my instinct is to make sure that my child is absolutely not accessible to them. I am not going to deny my instincts or ignore them. I am going to protect my child. If someone threatens me, they are, by extension, threatening him and I will react accordingly. I will draw a circle that will keep people of this kind O-U-T, out.

Anyway, that's sort of an aside, related, but an aside. Sometimes, you just need a break. You need to step away from the crazy before you get drawn farther into it. Step away and let time work its magic. Forcing the issue too soon won't fix or help anything, it'll just make it worse. It's like trying to walk too soon on a broken leg or bending a finger with a just-staunched gash to a joint; when you break the scab, it'll just keep bleeding.

If someone says, "I don't want to have anything more to do with you," you should leave them alone. It's okay to make some sort of plea in reaction: for understanding, maybe an apology, to let them know that you want to reconcile. After that though, be respectful and let them go. Let them have space and peace. When they're ready to talk to you again, they'll unblock you, or they'll make an effort. When THEY are ready. Not you.

This is something I too have had to learn. Timing is everything in life. If I'd been more patient at times, well, my life wouldn't be the way it is. If I'd waited longer to do some things, I would never have done them. Mainly though, patience isn't my virtue... or at least it wasn't.

When it comes to my son, patience and caution are commingled. They inform each other and work together to keep him safe. In keeping him safe, I have learned to protect myself. No one else will or can do what I have to do, be who I have to be. No one else loves my son the way I do or loves me the way he does. When I put him to bed at night in his crib and he clings to my hand until he falls asleep, it's the sweetest and most heartbreaking thing in the world. Only another mother could truly understand that or how fiercely I would fight to protect him. I could identify before, but I never felt the way that my son makes me feel until he came into my life. I did not know it was possible to feel this way.

The risks I used to take with people, to forgive them immediately and give them seventy times seven chances, I cannot take when it might effect my son negatively. I don't have the energy or time to deal with the repercussions. If you have a broken bowl and you need to scoop up water, put aside the broken bowl and use one that's not broken. When you're done scooping water, then you can look at the broken bowl and see about fixing it if you really want to. The time to fix the broken bowl is not during a flood, but when there is no emergency.

Forgiveness will come when it is time. I don't hate anyone. I don't believe that anyone is beyond redemption, and I am not unreasonable. I do however, believe that when someone says, "I've had enough," it should be enough, and they should be respected.

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