My attitudes # 3 – Grace and Dignity
“Learn to be what you are, And learn to resign with a good grace,
all that you are not” Henri Frederic Amiel
In my last post I spoke about optimism, in particular overcoming adversities by approaching difficult life events – death of a loved one, divorce, disablement, disease, disasters – as challenges to overcome, rather than as obstacles to endure……… …
I left out some rather difficult situations …chronic situations involving another person …… abusive situations, addiction in someone you care for, and chronic illness or disablement in someone you love. Is optimism in oneself enough to get one through any of these situations?
Herein lies the difficulty. Try as you might, as optimistic as you are yourself, you cannot change anyone else, or make someone do something, or make someone not do something. Even when someone is ill, you cannot make them see a doctor, take their medicine, rest, exercise, follow a diet or whatever it is that would be best for their situation. You can only keep loving and supporting them and encouraging them and helping them as much as you can. And you definitely cannot get inside their head and make them ‘look on the bright side’, or ‘make the best out of a bad situation’, or make them realise that ‘it could be much worse’. You can only do what you can do. You can only keep on keeping on and keep telling them over and over that it will all work out and that you will be there for them always.
Then when they leave you suddenly with no choice or discussion and with blame cast at you – because somehow it is all your fault – you finally take off the rose-coloured glasses……………..
And you realise that by the action of abandonment, not only have you been betrayed, not only have you been denied a chance to speak; not only have you been treated with the utmost disrespect; not only have you had your love and care trampled on; but you have also – in your role as carer – been the victim of emotional exploitation.
And you didn’t even know.
So, Mrs Optimism, where is the upside?
Using the same acronym as in my last post turning F.E.A.R into positive action (Face Everything And Respond) …………
Sixteen months on, I now look at the ending of our marriage and the events leading up to it with full realisation I had no control over someone else’s choices, someone else’s actions, or over events that occurred; and I have dropped any remaining trace of self-blame for the marriage’s demise.
Sixteen months on, I look on my values of kindness and empathy as virtues. I no longer see myself as a victim, or those virtues contributing to a supposed victim role. I realise that just because someone took advantage of my caring compassionate nature does not mean that I need to change those qualities in me in any way.
Sixteen months on, I can now face the razor-sharp ending to my marriage and be grateful that it saved me the pain of having to make a choice; that of trying to save my marriage after the betrayal. There is in regard to our personal relationship nothing left to lose so therefore nothing left to fear. There is no need to ask or expect an apology that will never come. The only response I need to make is to continue to act with grace and dignity.
“I wish grace and healing were more abracadabra kind of things. Also, that delicate silver bells would ring to announce grace’s arrival. But no, it’s clog and slog … on the floor, in the silence, in the dark”. Anne Lamott