I admit it. This refrain was borrowed and comes from Tim Mcgraw’s country song, Better Than I Used To Be. I love that song and realize that now, 10 years post stroke, that song could have been about mostly me. I turned the negatives that were mentioned in the song around to positive ones.
Hold a grudge
I used to hold grudges–like, forever. But no more. For example, there was my his-way-or-the-highway sibling and his super-controlling wife. I realized, or pretended to imagine, that they liked to have control, but I wasn’t going to be a party to that. Or my colleagues that didn’t listen to my demands for speaking without confrontation. Or my neighbors who didn’t throw the mouse in the rubbish when it came to land in our shared driveway with my two kids playing. Having no grudges means I’m free of all that negativity and that the cliche Life Is Too Short really means something.
The hearts I’ve broke
Yes, I broke some hearts because, and as my sons say, I liked men with edge because of my sheltered past, not nice guys who would have been perfect husbands and fathers. I married an edgy guy for 18 years who threw food on the floor if he didn’t like it, broke furniture in a fit of rage, once inches away from my infant son, and threatened me countless times. The other person was simply a mistake that lasted 16 years when I should have known better. There were signs, yes. But they’re both now dead to me, the first literally, the other figuratively. I found a couple on nice ones I’m sort of interested in, but time will tell if those feelings are returned.
People I let down
Sure, I let people down, and I had reasons, albeit faulty and selfish, to do so. But show me people who don’t have any regrets in their whole lives, and I’ll show you liars. From not agreeing with contentious friends to not cooking what I said I was going to bring to a pot luck supper, I let people down, so down that they stopped speaking with me. But, come on! Over politics or Shepherd’s Pie?
There’s some dirt on me
Absolutely, there’s some but not a whole lot, like the time I used my friend’s mascara when I had an eye infection on Saturday and then two days later on Monday she found out after she used that mascara the day on Sunday the day before (ouch! that was really a bad one) or how about the time I gossiped to people I knew would spill the beans about a friend’s secret drug addiction and she didn’t get the job. I did.
But I have one thing that wasn’t in the song. Patience! Do you know how I got patience where there wasn’t any before? From my stroke. Talk about a silver lining! It took a while to develop it, but now patience is with me all the time. People write to me occasionally to ask how I developed patience instead of constant anger and frustration. I practiced becoming patient because, in truth, it doesn’t come naturally, at least to me. You have to want it, and it will come, not right away but eventually.
Maybe, in time, I’ll become like that character from the television show My Name is Earl, a f-up who won $100,000 in the lottery and decides to correct all the wrongs from his past. Or maybe I’ll begin again in “it’s-never-too-late” fashion to make the right decisions this time around.