Tag Archives: Forgiveness

Failure and Forgiveness

Recently I was coaching another new parent through a rough moment with her new kiddo. I told her it was normal to feel some resentment about how much her life has changed and how hard her new life was trying to parent a kid with a traumatic history. It’s normal to reminisce about how good and easy life was before, and to feel angry and guilty for going down this raggedy path. It’s normal. Other parents told me, and I know it to be true.

She asked me if I had forgiven myself for doing this to myself, for making my life hard and sometimes miserable.

Sigh. Well…

I told her that I had come to realize that forgiveness isn’t an event; it’s a process. I told this new parent that I have to work hard to forgive myself every single day, and even sometimes a few times a day. I found myself sharing that concept with my fellow blogger, MyPerfectBreakdown, less than 24 hours later.

Sometimes I also have to work hard to forgive Hope for just being Hope.

And some days I fail at forgiving either of us at all.

I failed this week.

For the last few months I’ve been planning to slip back into my pre-Hope life by planning a vacation for us on Martha’s Vineyard. I splurged on a rental for a week. I smiled when I thought about how much I loved the quaint little shops, how I would fix myself a fun cocktail and sun myself on the porch or at the beach or at a pier. I was so excited.

And. Then. We. Got. Here.

And. It. Has. Been. Miserable.

It’s an old house, with lots of character and full of history. It’s been in the same African American family for close to a hundred years.

But none of that matters because Hope only sees an old house that has creaks and crevices with bugs. She has complained nonstop. She has dragged her feet and did nothing yesterday that would advance her movement with any swiftness. It actually took her 7 hours to get ready to go anywhere yesterday…I mean I know we are on vacation but her shoes weren’t even tied when she *finally* emerged. I had had 7 hours on a slow boil. And there’s the bug thing. I know she can’t help being afraid of bugs. I know. But dammit if the fallout post bug sighting doesn’t piss me off. I mean, it’s really dramatic and while I know there is a genuine physiological component, I think she amplifies things for even more attention. It is really, really extra.

And day one of my fantasy vacation ended with me flinging myself across my bed and sobbing loudly for 20 minutes, all the while wishing I had left her with somebody…anybody back home.

Yesterday I didn’t forgive myself for this life change. It’s hard and I’m struggling with her. I love Hope maddeningly but I don’t like this life very much right now.

The truth is that I’ve been kinda miserable for months; there have been punctuations of happy in there, but really, life sucks more than it doesn’t.

And Hope knows it. That makes me sad that she knows how miserable I feel. She often will comment that she messes everything up when I get upset. She doesn’t, but she seems *so* unaware and/or incapable of doing anything different so we always end up back to the same struggle.

I’m so tired. I’ve spent a fortune for this week and on top of everything else I feel fat. I just want to relax and enjoy some quality time without the drama.

But I bought the drama with me, and I kinda regret it.

So tomorrow, I will try again, to forgive myself for making my life so hard, for still having expectations that can’t or won’t be met, for being angry with Hope for all sorts of things that she can and can’t control, for not fixing myself that much needed rum and coke today, and for the guilt that I pile on top of all the other tough emotions that I feel thanks to this adoption journey.

I’ll try again today and tomorrow, and the day after that because I know that I have to chase forgiveness down and essentially make it my beeotch, every day.

I hope today is better.



Sometimes grief is overwhelming, especially when so much of it is lingering about the house.

Sometimes you are consciously able to break grief into the sum of its parts: loss, anger or fury, denial, desire, the desperate need to reconcile the coexistence of relief and sadness, and exhaustion—mental and physical.

Sometimes you just pour out your soul with tears and sobs.

Sometimes you just have to suck it up and handle the business part of loss.

Sometimes you just hold on so tight that the object of your love and grief wriggles to get away from you.

Sometimes other people just wriggle to get away from you.

Sometimes you just lay prostrate and pray without ceasing.

Sometimes you question whether you really have the faith necessary to lift those prayers up.

Sometimes you are speechlessly grateful for caring, compassionate, empathetic people who remind you that there is goodness in the world.

Sometimes you look behind you to remind yourself of all the progress, just so you don’t forget that growth is real.

Sometimes it is the porcupine that gives you the hug you needed.

Sometimes you remember that your faith didn’t stumble.

Sometimes you look around the house and see the growing list of repairs that you need to take care of but just can’t muster the umph to do it.

Sometimes you remember that you were supposed to be pushing out two publications this month.

Sometimes you are so pained and unfocused.

Sometimes you love so much and love isn’t enough to seemingly change anything.

Sometimes you’re just in a state of fury.

Sometimes things and people just aren’t what you wish they were.

Sometimes you don’t want to forgive (again).

Sometimes you have to beg for judgment free acceptance.

Sometimes you trade cookies and wine #TreatYoSelf moments for time on the yoga mat, breathing through some sun salutations. #nocalTreatYoSelf

Sometimes those quiet moments of practice allow you to just be open.

Sometimes you can let some of the hurt and righteous indignation seep away.

Sometimes you can find hope in the mess that surrounds you.

Sometimes you can feel the dispatch of the Holy Homeboy’s Holy Spirit surround you with much needed comfort.

Sometimes you can hear and feel the ancestors exhorting that it will be ok; they are waiting for their delivery and will cherish it.

Sometimes you can pray for peace and really embrace it and hope others will as well.

Betwixt and Between


There is an overlook in St. Kitts and Nevis where you can see the small isthmus that connects these volcanic islands together.  Standing on this overlook, you can see both the Atlantic and Caribbean Oceans.  One is choppy and violently crashes its surf; the other is nearly still with a surface barely broken by gentle waves.

I think I might be an isthmus between two islands.

My existence feels a little chaotic.  I am at times joyful and incredibly chill,  other times angry, often impatient, still other times depressed, withdrawn and incredibly anxious, and most of the time exhausted.

I am a bit of a mess.  My emotions are all over the place.

In the days since Match Day, I feel like I have had very little control.  Hope will not come to live with me for several months yet, despite the fact that I’d like to board a plane to fetch her immediately.  I mean stat!  Accepting the reality that neither of us is ready for the big move is hard.  Her room has been a guest room with extra storage for 12 years; I have a lot of sifting, sorting, packing and donating to do to be ready for her arrival.  I also have a plan to be finished drafting my dissertation by December; the completion of that draft on time is essential for me to stay on schedule to graduate next spring.  I’m anxious about possibly taking custody around the holidays because I am afraid Hope will be overwhelmed, resulting in my being overwhelmed.

I am also still enduring well-intended, but frankly stupid commentary.  “I can’t believe the agency is letting you adopt alone.  You really need a husband.”  “Why don’t you know things like X, Y and Z about your new daughter?”  How is it that silly comments can already make me feel inadequate as a mom when my mommy-dom is so new and in some ways doesn’t feel official yet?

It is more important than ever that I learn to guard myself against hurtful words and practice forgiveness and judgment-free living.  Forgiveness has never been something I have withheld in great amount, but I am finding that the need to practice it (with a side of grace) at this point in my life is more intense than ever.  I am also finding the old, more judgmental me is slipping away, which is a good thing.

At least two people have shared adoption horror stories with me in the last few days, though I’m not sure what the purpose of the story was supposed to be other than to scare me.   A year ago, I couldn’t believe that anyone’s adoption placement might fail, and I blamed those parents for not trying hard enough.  I don’t blame them anymore; I know better.  It happens, and it is devastating.  I have discovered a pool of compassion I didn’t know I had for all parties involved in a failed placement.    At this point, I find failed stories so painful, gossipy and non-supportive of adoptive families.  When I recently said no to a child, I know it was the right decision.  I knew such a placement looked good on paper, but would be ultimately be a disaster.  This is not an easy path.  I’m learning that forgiveness of all the people making comments that are not supportive of me or adoptive families in general is critical.   It is really the only way I can reduce whatever pain hurtful words inflict.  I have to let it go, not for them but for me and Hope.

At the other end of the continuum, there is peacefulness about moving forward with my new daughter.  It is odd that this calmness coexists with the madness swirling around me.  I went into the room that will be Hope’s room today.  I recently stripped the room of its old décor and had it painted white.  There’s a lot of work that needs to be done in there to prepare for her arrival.   I found the task of room prep (getting rid of things from Pre-Hope days) overwhelming until today when I went in and started pulling things down to send to the Goodwill tomorrow.  I realized that I will relish in tossing some things out and repurposing other things.  I am excited about creating some design concepts to send to Hope.  This transition is a beautiful thing and in some ways I’m running towards it.  Today the tasks brought me a sense of satisfaction; I’m preparing for this change and this young person in a very concrete way.  It isn’t hypothetical and it isn’t conceptual anymore.

I also realized that I need this time and that embracing this awkward period is a good thing.  Although I am eager for Hope to come home to me, I realize that the few months of waiting will give us both some time to prepare ourselves.  Again, this isn’t an easy path; preparation time is needed.  By my own reckoning I need at least 6 more weeks to get ready.  The reality is that this time will also allow me to get through the heavy lift of conducting my research and writing my dissertation this fall.  Besides it will only be a few weeks until we are Skyping regularly.  I’ll see her face, hear her voice, begin to learn how we will navigate this new path together.  Something about embracing this transition period brings me comfort.  I can take a deep breath, pick out paint, write and dream about our tomorrows.

And yet, both of these emotional states, anxiety and calm, wax and wane.  I can float from one side of narrow isthmus to the other in a matter of moments.  The triggers are difficult to manage and exhausting, but I figure I will get better at it during the next few weeks and months.  I will continue to learn to not take things personally and to forgive, forgive and forgive again.  I hope that my family and friends will be patient with me.  I’m a bit of a handful these days.

But it is all worth it.

K E Garland

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