Sunset in Andalucia, Spain - El Puerto de Santa Maria

Spanish Sunset

I have been having a hard time with someone close to me lately– the biggest challenge since my mom died.  For months, this negative air has been trapped inside, expanding so rapidly at times that it leaves no room to breathe.

This person has behaved selfishly in my opinion–heartlessly–actions drowning out any words used to explain why.  I’m angry.  Disappointed.  Hurt.  These emotions, over time, can make you physically sick and I’ve been sick for six weeks now.  Agotado is the Spanish word for how I feel–which means sold out or exhausted.

So as not to spin out over this, I have drawn closer to my family.  Stephanie comes to sit on my bed, concern in her hazel eyes.  Ethan has been consistently patient and kind.  “I’m always patient and kind,” he jokes and my heart manages a leap of love.  And when I tuck the boys into bed, they hold on tightly.  “I’m never letting you go, Mommy,” says Griffin, and I think please don’t but can’t say a word. From the top bunk, Ado reaches out and I snuggle into his warm neck, knowing that this kind of positive energy is the way back from the edge.  I breathe them in.

Happy Kids

Happy Kids

That night, my mom is in my dreams. They are sad and scary at first, strewn with catastrophe and chaos, but the last one is full of love and I wake up crying. Then, I get out of bed, take a shower, and get dressed.  Pulling a brush through long, tangled hair, my mind settles again on the person who has upset me–the person who refuses to see the error of their ways–and the pressure inside builds again, pushing me toward a dark place.  But suddenly, like a pin in a balloon, the air bubble pops and the understanding that I can’t control this person flows in, sweet and clean and light.  I can’t make them act how I want (breathe)…say what I want (breathe)…be who I want (breathe).  So why make myself crazy trying?

It is true that much of what makes us unhappy, stressed, or unbalanced we bring on ourselves.  Trapped by the illusion of control we think we can force someone to change–if we just find the right words or push the right buttons.  But like a fly in a spider’s web, the more we struggle the more stuck we become.  Reality is that the only person I can change is me.

My mom did not hold grudges.  Gabriele believed in second chances–thirds, fourths, and fifths too–and that there was healing power in letting go.  And so I’m giving up trying to make this person see the world through my eyes. What will come of this remains to be seen, but I can already feel that it’s good.

Mother and Daughter - Spain, 2011

Mother and Daughter – Spain, 2011