by Lori Ann Potter
As we rapidly approach the end of 2012, I believe now is a good time to focus on something BIG. Think of it as a way to leave all our junk behind us and move forward to better days ahead. Are you with me?
What I’m talking about is an issue so deep and dark that it has plagued my community for at least twenty years. It’s an issue at the root of many reasons why so many people are emotionally disconnected and refuse to attend meetings, volunteer, or have generally anything productive to do with our tribe whatsoever. Yes, folks, it’s high time we address the elephant in the room because frankly, he’s been toying with us for far too long.
I’m talking about…
Oh yes…a lot of crap can happen in twenty years. There is indeed a list reasons why people feel the way they feel, and you better believe that list is long! It includes:
- broken promises,
- false assumptions of life-long prosperity spoon-fed to multiple generations,
- political manipulation,
- financial misleading,
- threats to remain blindly loyal or risk social and political disenfranchisement,
- people demanding unearned privileges,
- rumors and lies about one another,
…just to name a few.
Sure, I get it. As a matter of fact, I have personally been on the receiving end of a few generous portions of other people’s garbage. I’ve been used, lied to, gossiped about, heckled, vandalized, manipulated, wounded, pigeon-holed, harassed, targeted, scapegoated, racially profiled, misunderstood, objected, rejected and suspected by peers, relatives and even a few bosses. I know a lot of you can relate to what I’m sharing, and I’m sure some of you have experienced the same stuff, if not far worse. Its enough to leave a girl wondering “why me” as she curls up in fetal position, defending the walls surrounding her wounded heart. I’ll give you an example of what I mean.
Years ago, I confided in a tribal elder about the awful ways one of my cousins treated me. She patiently listened to my long-winded emotional venting with a great deal of empathy, having experienced her own share of intense battles with others. When I was done she proceeded to encourage me to not worry so much about what happened. “These things have a way of working themselves out”, she said. “Eventually, Lori, people who treat others badly find themselves tasting the bitterness of their own cruel poison.”
Long story short, she was absolutely right. I can honestly tell you that, as of this very moment, every person who ever treated me badly (without truly being sorry for it!) has suffered in some kind of way. Some were fired, others forced to resign, and a few continue struggling with torment, relationship strife, or chronic, debilitating illnesses. As the saying goes, what goes around comes around.
Does that mean I think every issue involving chronic illness or social angst means a person brought it on him or herself? Absolutely not! There are many causes for bad circumstances. We each experience the consequences of our own words, behaviors and mindsets, the consequences of others’ words and actions, and the random impacts of bad timing, genetic predispositions or traumatic accidental mishaps. But if there’s anything living and working at Mashantucket has taught me, it is this:
Life may not be fair, but our Creator is just.
Rather than holding a grudge, experience has taught me to pity those who despise or spitefully use me because I know in the long run they are only hurting themselves. The truth is, I’m just as likely today as I ever was to become offended and hurt by the words and actions of others as any other human being. But because of what I’ve learned about the poison of unforgiveness, I try my best to avoid holding onto anger and allowing bitterness to fester and take root within my soul.
My next few articles will cover the concept of forgiveness. No, I’m not a psychologist. I’m just a woman who learned some hard-knock lessons from really bad experiences, and I’m willing to share the gory details for everyone’s benefit. If what I’ve suffered can help anyone else gain a sense of understanding and freedom, then this is all worth it.
I once heard it bluntly explained this way: “Hurting people hurt people.” Isn’t it time to end this cycle once and for all?
Forgiveness is the gift you give yourself so that you can move forward. – T.D. Jakes