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.


Photo: Garry Armstrong

Photo: Garry Armstrong

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 — not quite 70 — but as you age, you lose people. The ones with bad hearts, the heavy drinkers. The smokers. The ones who never learned to let go of anger. The strange ones who kept playing hockey with life, but refused to wear a helmet.

Chickens come home to roost. Crazy drivers meet their maker on a dark highway. Cancer, heart attacks, 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 rendered 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 of anger and grudges. It’s about passing the heavy stuff to your “higher power,” whatever that means to you. Acknowledging you can’t fix everything and realizing it’s not your job to fix it.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Photo: Garry Armstrong

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 who lost their jobs and promptly declared themselves failures. As if that one really bad thing — getting fired or let go — negated everything. I know men and women who were abused as children who are still defining themselves as victims 50 or more years later.

If you like yourself, you can find a way to be 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 or never started. All the “shoulda coulda woulda” you’ve accumulated.

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

The sooner you do it, the better. I wasted a lot of years hauling rubbish. Doing it sooner is better. Then, with a little luck, you’ll outlive the bitches.

29 thoughts on “OUTLIVING THE BITCHES

  1. Pingback: My little simple thought

    • I don’t really know any of those people anymore. They are either dead, or moved far away, or lost in dementia.Or just lost. I’ve forgotten a lot of what seemed important a few decades ago. I really did let it go and it’s a lot easier to navigate without the baggage 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. More people need to think like us. Hauling around all of that baggage does nothing but weigh people down. And it affects everyone around the person lugging it around too. But most of the time, they’re so focused on the baggage, they can’t see the damage they’re doing to anyone else.

    Blah, I need to get to bed. I’m not making any sense.

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    • I am always a bit surprised at people who hang on to all the negative crap. I can’t understand WHY anyone would want to do that, but there are people who have — as far as I can tell — no happy memories, so they hang on to the miserable stuff. Or maybe they are just miserable people.

      Liked by 1 person

        • Some people ONLY see the negative. They have a million reasons why something can’t work, and none why it could. They never notice when something nice happens because nice stuff doesn’t whack you over the head the way negative stuff does. Also, there’s the blame factor. I’ve met a lot of people who have to assign blame to anything that happens. It’s their occupation, their avocation, their reason for being.

          Good things? It there is no one to blame, they are not interested.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. I used to carry that baggage, too. And I am slowly outliving the bitches–old boyfriends are dropping like flies, former friends (who were never friends anyway) I just ignore, oh the wonders of email…

    You can’t get back what you never had. Now there’s a revelation. I see too many people who had truly, mythically, bad childhoods, (I know, I was there) and yet now they cling to this fairytale of a life they once had, and lost, like Bali Hai. I wonder; which is worse, the muck and mire childhood you cart around forever, or the fairy tale existence you made up instead…

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    • Garry has a brother or two like that. I’ve known Garry more than 50 years, so I was there for a lot of those “good old days” and they weren’t so great. But they have been transformed into this epically ideal childhood and perfect parental union (NOT). Only Garry, of the three boys, seems able to see past the mythology. And it doesn’t make him love them less. I actually think it’s helped him because he sees them as real people.

      We all carry some baggage, and some of us carry an awful lot. The process of dumping it and moving on is the same, regardless. I suppose step one is admitting that it IS baggage. If you can’t do that, you’ll end up buried under it. I really don’t understand people at all.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m getting better at letting go. Sometimes it just dawns on me that someone or something no longer bothers me.
    Last night my running budy laughed at me because I like everyone. That’s not entirely true, but basically right.
    It’s too much work carrying a grudge!

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  5. Nice. And true. Once my mom said of my grandma (her MIL) “She doesn’t seem to remember that anything bad ever happened to her.” I think this is why my grandma was a vibrant and interesting woman even after she lost her vision and well into her 90s. I thought my grandma was smart. 🙂

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