Breaking Down — Making Amends

This morning, I had a “break down.”

What does that actually, really mean? Did I truly break down? Did I break and now need fixing? Or, did I really just lay on the carpeted floor of my office and ugly cry for around 10-minutes vacillating between feeling sorry for myself, scolding myself for it and then trying to make myself feel better (by saying it was “okay to not be okay”)?

I was feeling sorry for myself again. “Why did Suzanne leave me?” “Why did she have to die?” “Why is this so unfair?”

The light of my life… before it was extinguished by cancer.

Then, I was scolding myself for asking questions like “what did I do to deserve losing her?” (telling myself that’s a “victim mindset”). But I was also being supportive of my true Self by saying, “you really are pure love and kindness, and those are your gifts to the world. Stop ‘feeling sorry for yourself and your ego,’ and get up off the floor and give everything you have to the world.”

So, I started to think about what I have done to others in my life. How I have treated others (including berating a waiter for “not being attentive enough” even though I had worked in hospitality and knew it was wrong to treat him (or anyone for that matter) in that way).

And I thought about making amends.

How do we make amends for all the things we believe we did wrong? I can’t even begin to itemize the number of things I could apologize for in this life. In 23-years of marriage, I did and said things I never meant. I hurt people I loved by being unkind, untruthful, unloving.

Is it too late to make amends? What’s the statute of limitations on apologizing and doing better?

As I reflect on all the wrongs I committed against people when I was younger—my dad, my mom, my brothers, my friends, etc.—and compare those to what I did over the years to Suzanne and my girls, I wonder which of them could be considered the worst.

I now realize however, it truly doesn’t matter. I made mistakes and bad choices. I made people feel bad and fearful of me because I chose to behave awfully. Even Suzanne used to call me out when I was behaving awfully, and it makes me sad to think about those (too many) times.

Now, if I choose to make amends a) by no longer exhibiting those behaviors and b) by apologizing and being kinder, then am I truly making up for those wrongs? Will it make my situation better? Is that how Karma and life works? Again, does it even matter if I try to make amends?

To me, it does. Like the 12-Step program, when we go back to those we have hurt in the process of our addictions, we apologize. We explain that we are in the process of discovering our true nature and we say we are sorry. But does that make amends for the hurt and pain I have caused to others? No. Not really. It only alleviates some of the burden I have been bearing (emotionally and physically) since Suzanne died.

My heart aches for the pain I caused to others. The reason is clear. I was not being true to my authentic Self. I had been acting a role all my life, and that role was sometimes ugly. I pretended to be something I wasn’t. It was not who I truly am.

In high school, I chose to become an extrovert. It took a lot of effort and it made me feel good because I became “popular.” It made me the center of attention. It made me happy because I was in with the other popular kids in my school. Yet, I was relying on validation from others to be happy. It became a habit. An addiction.

Maybe it’s even why I started to write and to share my grief. It was and always has been about the little, selfish, me. But over the last few months I have awakened to the true nature of my Self. It is powerful. It is passionate. It is unflappable and it is boundless.

My heart. My soul. My love.

All of those things are my gifts to the world. And I have been hoarding them until recently. Only in the last few weeks, as I have opened up to the possibilities of being hopeful and vulnerable, have I truly started to broadcast (to telegraph) those gifts and that energy to the universe. Is it possible to say all this and still say that I have been humbled? I don’t think I could ever express my true nature.

All I know is that I have now realized that I am who I am and I need to give in order to receive. My hope is that we all can do the same.

Now is truly a profound time for us all, and I for one hope that it will change us for the better. Will it? I am hopeful. Like computers that we rely on so heavily to do our tasks from day-to-day, we have been programmed to be the self that we act in public and in private. Like every computer, we share a basic operating system (our bodies and the vital organ functions that sustain us and life). Beyond that, we are all running different programs and conditions that make us who we are.

This morning, my ten minute ugly cry started a reboot of my supercomputer. No matter what happens from here, I have started to delete the programs and the conditions that had me choosing to be something I am not. I have made amends to my true Self. And I have chosen to be the true me. I have chosen to act out of love and to be kind.

Kindness matters. It is the manifestation of love and how love acts. If we choose to live our lives from a place of love, then we automatically choose kindness. Because it’s impossible to be loving and unkind. Truly. It is.

You may be thinking, that’s a crock of shit, Jeff. You can be unkind to someone and still be loving.

Nope. Sorry. It doesn’t work that way. I know. It’s how I have been most of my life.