"No one can make you jealous, angry, vengeful, or greedy — unless you let him." ~Napolean Hill
As my husband and I were waiting for our breakfast, the day before yesterday, my attention was piqued by a woman who sat in the booth adjacent to ours; she was excitedly reporting all the rotten things her ex-husband had done to her toward the end of their relationship, and told her friend that it was his fault that she had become a bitter woman.
Since her face was completely visible through the low booth divider, I could see that she was in utter distress just thinking about the situation – her cheeks were flushed and her eyes opened wider every time she merely mentioned the man’s name.
I sincerely thought that she was talking about a relationship recently gone afloat, and was stunned when I heard her friend ask if she knew where he was, and the woman responded that she hadn’t heard from him in over two years.
Two years later she was still agonizing, and it was obvious to the naked eye. So obvious, in fact, that I felt terrible for the woman; in part because of the things that had happened to her, but mostly because she was still in such dire distress over them.
There is no doubt in my mind that the man she spoke of hurt her deeply, but by keeping him so vividly alive in her current life she continued the emotional beating he had started and had chosen to abandon two years before. It was bad enough that she had to suffer through the situation while it was happening - choosing to hang on to the pain was indeed no different than self-mutilation.
We go through many situations in life that rightfully thrust us into a momentary limbo. Once the occurrence has reached an apex and things have settled – whether through our direct choice or the unfolding of circumstances – it is our responsibility to bring closure to the distressful relationship or event. Lack of closure and unwillingness to let go of the pain are analogous to allowing the hurtful person or event to live rent-free in our head.
Regardless of how much we loved or hated the person, holding on to suffering will not bring them back, nor will it punish them for their acts. Similarly, choosing to agonize over an occurrence that should have been laid to rest long ago will not change what happened. Someone else might have chosen for us yesterday, but today we have the privilege of running our own lives.
When our food arrived we ate, and left money on the table to pay for our bill, but as we got up lo leave I couldn’t help saying a small silent prayer for the woman still sitting at the restaurant. I prayed for her to learn that she doesn’t need to hang on to the pain, and for her to see that it is okay to finally smile and say good-bye to the past.