I have a long and complicated relationship with forgiveness. At first, I couldn’t do it because I equated forgiveness with allowing the other person to get back in my life and perhaps redo the damage.
August 2, 2010
I realize that I am repeating a lesson that I have learned earlier in my life, but here goes: In my mind forgiveness is attached to an ongoing relationship. And certainly forgiveness is part and parcel of each and every ongoing relationship. It is the way that I see it in the relationship that is mistaken. I thought that if I give forgiveness it is the same as letting the other person back into my vulnerable space to wreak havoc once again. Though I am mistaken, I would keep my definition as it serves me well…
Dictionary.com states “to cease to feel resentment against”. Of course, I already knew this, years ago as I was reading Emmet Fox’s interpretation of Sermon on the Mount I came across the following passage: It cannot be too often repeated that to entertain feelings of anger, resentment, jealousy, spite, and so forth, is certain to damage your health in some way or other, and quite likely to damage it very severely indeed. Remember that the question of the justification or otherwise for such feelings does not arise at all. It has absolutely nothing to do with the results, for the thing is a matter of natural law. A woman said: ‘I have a right to be angry,’ meaning that she had been the victim of very shabby treatment, and that she consequently possessed a kind of license or special permit to hold angry feelings without their natural consequences upon the body following. This, of course, is absurd. There is no one to give such a permit, and if it could be done- if general laws could ever be set aside in special instances – we should have, not a universe, but a chaos. If you press the button, from no matter what motive, good or bad – to save a man’s life or to murder him – the electric bell will ring; because that is the law of electricity. If you drank a deadly poison inadvertently, you would die or at least seriously damage your body, because such is the law. You may have mistakenly supposed it to be a harmless fluid, but that would make no difference because the law takes no account of intentions.” Emmett Fox is one of the greatest spiritual writers of our time.
While I am not feeling resentment, anger and all of the other stuff, I hold my un-forgiveness like a shield to protect me from further chaos. Releasing the resentment, the anguish, these things are not my chores, these things I have accomplished. And so, I say again, forgiveness is for fools. We must, beyond a shadow of a doubt, be capable of releasing all of the hurt and the pain that relationships and life will accrue to us. We must also be capable and willing to protect ourself from that which intends to harm us. It is not always easy or clear to tell what will harm us and what will not. I have no answers for this, the question in the middle…
I hung onto my anger in order to protect myself. It didn’t work out. Because then my perpetrators started dying.
But all of the damage, and all of the pain and anguish I suffered, couldn’t hold a candle to what I was feeling for myself. That was “I am unforgivable for allowing someone like this into my life.” “How could I betray myself like this?”
I want to say that I am a very healthy human being, someone with self awareness, and yet, here is that lying monster right here in our midst once again. Here in our midst is someone who is so ignorant, he is able to hurt me and an idiot to my children. How am I able to keep on choosing the man who is harmful and mean? How can I do this when I profess wisdom?
Belief in God gives your forgiveness to someone other than you; when you are the one who can forgive you.
This is the trip wire, the one that forces me back into therapy, the one that forces me, once again, to look deeper into the nether regions of this brain to find those answers.
How Could I? 2009
How could I be in the same old relationship that I was in ten years ago, a relationship that harmed and hurt me?
How Could I? 2022
How could I be having the same old attitudes about money? How can I? I’ve trained myself, learned, even did accounting and still here I am, nervous and poor and I know that is not true. What do I know that my feelings cannot interfere with and sabotage?
What is true is the harshness of that devastating childhood. My own and then the one I perpetrated on my own children.
Now, here we are. I can’t forgive myself for not knowing what was wrong with me and then my husbands…
Who was I yesterday? I was trying, trying, always trying, so how did I get it wrong? If you are always trying, isn’t that enough? No. How do I forgive me for making you insecure, my lovely and loving child. How did I, the perfect mother, end up with sons who found their solace in illegal drugs?
No, don’t tell me about codependence! I read Melody Beattie’s very first book, back in the 80s, don’t tell me about it, I was TRYing.
How do I forgive ME? I have an unending well of forgiveness for those that I love, and none is available to me. And yet, I have to. I must give myself what I so readily give to others. I am thinking of my mother. There were only two times that she disapproved of me. She always forgave me, always. Can I use her as the role model for myself?
Mama died on Valentine’s day. What was she telling me? That love wins, every single time. Love wins and so does forgiveness. Love myself and it brings me to forgiveness.
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