OUTLIVING THE BITCHES

One Sunday in church, Pastor’s sermon was about forgiveness. He asked everyone in the church to stand up, then he asked those who had any enemies to sit down. Everyone sat down but one very old woman.

“You have no enemies at all?” asked Pastor.

“Not a single one,” she answered, nodding her agreement.

“Please, come up here and tell everyone how you reached such a great age without having any enemies,” said Pastor. A deacon accompanied the elderly woman to the pulpit and everyone in church applauded as she slowly made her way up the steps. Pastor adjusted the microphone.

“You must have done a lot of forgiving,” said Pastor. “Please, tell us your secret.”

The old lady smiled beatifically.

“I outlived the bitches,” she said.


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That’s how I’m beginning to feel. Many, if not most of the people who done me wrong and about whom I used to obsess are gone. I’m not that old — just 67 — but as you get older, you lose people. The ones with bad hearts, the heavy drinkers and smokers.

Chickens come home to roost. Crazy drivers meet their maker on a dark highway. Cancer, heart attack, and other diseases weed out others. The older generation passes away, one funeral at a time.

The biggest baddest villain of my life was my father. I stopped talking to him long before he died. I wrote about his death before it occurred. Most people who got to know me in recent years and read my book assumed he was dead. He wasn’t dead — not physically — but he was dead to me. By the time he died for real, it no longer mattered.

Other stuff? Time made it unimportant. When I look around, few of the people with whom I had a beef are still here. Time has made the rest irrelevant.

Forgiveness is not about repairing relationships so you can be friends again. It’s letting go, passing stuff to your “higher power,” whatever it means to you. Acknowledging you can’t fix everything and realizing it’s not your job to fix it.

Shit happens. Some of it — unfair and unforgivable — happens to you. You can make it the center of your world and spend your life brooding and obsessing over it. Or, you can decide you won’t be defined by the worst stuff that has happened to you — or the worst stuff you’ve done.

I know people who had wonderful careers full of honor and respect who lost their jobs and promptly declared themselves failures. As if that one really bad thing — getting fired — negated everything that had gone before. I know men and women who were abused as children who are still defining themselves as victims 50 years later.

If you like yourself, you can be pretty happy no matter what life throws at you. It’s that simple. And that difficult. When you start forgiving, forgive yourself first. For the mistakes you made. For the bad choices, the stupid decisions, the asshole(s) you married, almost married, allowed to mess with your head.

The jobs you screwed up, shouldn’t have taken, should have taken (but didn’t). The opportunities you blew. The people who stabbed you in the back (you should have seen them coming). The times you were totally wrong and didn’t apologize. Your failures as a parent, the novels you didn’t finish. All the “shoulda coulda woulda” you’ve accumulated.

If you throw the garbage out, you won’t eliminate all your problems. The money you don’t have won’t suddenly appear. Youth and health don’t come back. But you don’t have to haul the past with you into the future and you can enjoy what you do have without obsessing over what you missed or lost.

The sooner you do it, the better. I waited too long, wasted a lot of years. Sooner is better.

Then, with a little luck, you’ll outlive the bitches.



Categories: Anecdote, Humor, Personal, Relationships

Tags: , , , , ,

39 replies

  1. Reblogged this on Free Speak and commented:
    These are powerful words,

    Like

  2. This is good. I wouldn’t have put it in the same words as you, but I am totally with you. Someone once told me it’s up to God to do the forgiving. It for us to make peace with what happened and live out lives, not let the wrong doing live our lives. I too had a lousy father (and mother). I had to separate from them to continue living and somehow made my life and the magic of forgiveness somehow happened. When I found out my parents were dead a few years back, it didn’t even effect me. Not good or bad and no anger. Maybe a little relief because their lives could not have been happy lives. At least not like I have. To me that is the best revenge.

    Like

  3. Reblogged this on Willow's Corner and commented:
    I love this woman’s blog. This particular post is an excellent point about living in the Now. The past is the past. It’s too heavy to carry around, so leave it in the past. If y’all aren’t reading her blog, you ought to be. 🙂

    Like

  4. Can I get an Amen? Great post.

    Like

  5. This post really spoke to me. About how we define ourselves and don’t. About letting go. About not getting caught up in the BS. Great thought-provoking post, my friend!

    Like

  6. Where’s the “love” button? Very well and succinctly put, Mrs. A.

    Completamente in agreement with your thoughts and words. I, too, learned these lessons… also taking a bit longer to internalize parts of it than I would’ve wished.

    I love the “nobody puts Baby in the corner” line. One of my all-time favorites. I preach it to me, from time to time. 🙂

    Like

  7. I realy enjoyed this! I needed to read this today because of my own personal life drama, and you helped me with my perspective. Thank you!

    Like

  8. Reblogged this on Writing Out Loud and commented:
    LIfe lessons, thanks Marilyn

    Like

  9. Great post, thanks. The subject of forgiveness came up at dinner time last night – must be in the air. I’m a great fan of “forgive yourself first.” After all, that’s all the control I have, over me and my processes. If I can find compassion for myself, let go and move forward, compassion for others usually follows. Then the letting go.

    Like

  10. There’s a lot of wisdom in your post today Marilyn. I’ve been divorced 3 times without a one of them dying. I never even thought of cheating one any of them. I’ve been laid off too many times to count. The final one, from Intel, I used as a springboard to retirement. I made a tragedy work for me.

    My recent screwing by Eric, my landlord, could have been an anchor around my neck if I let it. Rather than lower myself to his level I packed up, moved out and moved on. I’m getting to old to carry old baggage around my neck. Thanks for this post.

    Like

  11. Absolutely love this. Every point you raise makes so much sense, and is written so wonderfully.

    Like

  12. Some of your best work M. I shall re-blog it after I give my latest post a bit of breathing room!

    Like

  13. Excellent, Marilyn. It made me laugh. It made me pause for thought. It gave me a much-needed boost of feist! You are right, though – and I know that I have too much of a tendency to define myself by the shit which happens. Sometimes we all have to just grab that metaphorical pair of scissors, cut the cord and let the baggage stay behind whilst we move on. That is my lesson for the next year or so! xxx

    Like

  14. “Shit happens. Some of it — unfair and unforgivable — happens to you. You can make it the center of your world and spend your life brooding and obsessing over it. Or, you can decide you won’t be defined by the worst stuff that has happened to you — or the worst stuff you’ve done.”

    That one paragraph says it all. Especially the last line. Even those who can learn to let go of what others do get stuck on that one.

    Great piece, Marilyn.

    Like

  15. Awesome post. So very true. Well written to boot. Thanks for writing this.

    Like

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