August 13, 2011

Making Amends to Problem People

A few years ago, my mom asked me to "just call" if  I needed her and my dad to come help take care of our son when my husband and I expected to go out of town.  We already had made arrangements for my son's other grandma to spend that time with our son, but I was touched that my mom offered. She sounded so genuine that,  when my husband's parent had unexpected health problems, I felt encouraged  to call my mom. This time we talked, she was much cooler and said, "Let me think on it, and get back to you." Well, surprise surprise mom had to renege.  My immediate reaction was to feel sucker punched, especially since my mom was not only  "unable" to help, but she used my vulnerability as a chance to tell me WHY  I had no business going on the trip at all.  

I'd learned from experience that anger just beget more anger, so I quickly got off the phone. 

I shared my feelings with my husband.   I did not cry,  because I had been disappointed so many times before that all I had was anger and bitterness. It was just another lesson in "I-told-you-so."  Only today did I admit to myself I was hurt by my mom's complete about-face, completely denying the help I had anticipated. To think, I'd believed this would be a time for our son to bond with his grandparents!   

How I did wish that I had a parent who was not a functional dry drunk, so I could speak my heart about the situation and not be blamed for my own hurt!  But life has had other plans for me... 

The program suggests I put those I resent on my list of folks to make amends to. I put my mom at the top of my list the last time I did Step Nine, because my Sponsor had said that I would want to make amends "one day." Well, I decided to get my mom done first. 

Today  I do not advocate anyone do this.  I found out that putting problem people at the top of my amends list meant I made it possible for me to be hurt again when they  threw my apology back in my face. 

Making amends to such people turned out to be more about making sure I stayed out of their firing range and forgiving myself for allowing them to abuse me to begin with.

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