Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Best Gift

What was the best gift you gave yourself this year?

Two thousand eleven was a very frugal year, so any gift I gave myself was a figurative gift and not a literal gift. I didn't really have any excess cash to splurge on cool stuff, but thinking about this past year, I think I gave myself the gift of burying the hatchet.

I buried the hatchet a few different ways in 2011. I finally, sorta-kinda forgave myself for the situation I put myself (and my wife) in. It wasn't really my fault that I lost my job in 2010, but I took on a lot of the blame and every chance I got I felt sorry for myself. I was full of self-hatred and self-loathing and self-doubt. I am supposed to provide for my family. I am the man. I should be bringing home the bacon. Thanks to government cut-backs my job was down-sized and I was out of a job. I swear to God, as I left that meeting in June of 2010, I wanted to just drive and drive and drive. I didn't want to face my wife. I didn't want to face myself. I didn't want to face the facts. I just wanted to run away. But I didn't. I faced the problem head on. But that involved a lot of blame focused on me.

But slowly, in 2011, I started to forgive myself and focus on what was important: Getting out of this situation I got us in.

Another instance where I buried the hatchet in 2011 was with an argument I was having with my cousin. It had been an ongoing battle between him and I for quite a while and at one point it came to a head. We stopped talking and we went our separate ways. I stopped trying to guilt him and I stopped trying to stop him from doing what he was dead set on doing. It was his life. He could do what he wanted. He was a grown-ass man. If he wanted to destroy it, then I was more than willing to let him do that. I wasn't happy about it, but at this point there was nothing I could do, so I let him go.

It may not seem like a big deal to an outsider looking in, but to me (and to him) it was a big deal. We had been tight for over thirty years. We were best mates. But we both have issues. He finds one way of dealing with them, I find another. I was obviously not happy with the way he chose to deal with his issues and problems and life-battles. I was there for him through thick and thin, but at some point he didn't want to hear what I had to say. He started hanging out and listening to other friends who would allow him to do what he wanted. I washed my hands of him. I didn't need the stress of worrying about him. I had enough stress in my life.

But of course it didn't end there. He was my best friend. He is my best friend. I couldn't just let him spiral downward. I couldn't just let him dig deeper and deeper into the hole I know he was already so far into. Besides, it wasn't just about him. I was part of this. As much as I knew he needed me, I needed him just as much. I needed him in my life. I had things that I needed to vent to him about. I had things that I wanted to share with him. I had funny stories that I knew only he would understand. So maybe part of burying the hatchet was me being selfish. But I didn't care. Helping him meant helping me.

The act of burying the hatchet in this instance wasn't pretty. There was yelling and rehashing and blood, sweat and tears. But in the end the hatchet was buried and I am better off because of it.

Burying the hatchet is the best gift I could have given myself this year. I needed to get let off the hook. I needed that weight lifted off of me. I needed to be set free of all of the pressures that I put on myself. I just hope I can keep myself off the hook. Every time money is tight or my gas gauge gets close to EMPTY or I'm scrounging around for something to cook for dinner I feel that weight again. I feel that guilt and self-loathing come creeping back into my life. But I hope that in 2012 the hatchet will stay buried.

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