Forgiveness

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Health, No Whining, Soulful, Too Long For Twitter

I promised to write this post last week, but due to the insane preparations for my hubby’s 40th birthday, a three night stay at our friend’s house and a rough weekend illness-wise, this is the first chance I’ve had to finish writing and post it. While I apologize for the lateness, the topic actually came up again in a discussion with a young woman still trying to recover from an abusive relationship and I think I have better formulated my thoughts.

Background:
Someone in Twitter expressed how hard it is to forgive someone for hurting you while they are still doing it. I won’t say who it was, as it may make a complicated situation more difficult.

My response was a lesson that was hard learned and remains even harder to enforce: “Forgiveness is a gift you give to yourself, not the other person. It takes a lot of work, but is freeing.”

That brought a follow-up tweet by @ObiOrion: “There are acts over the recent years I’ve been forced to accept but does that mean I have to forgive?”

Short answer? Of course not. You can hold on to that for the rest of your life, if you so choose. I simply choose not to.

The long explanation of my short answer involves revealing that, like most, I’ve been hurt grievously by some that I loved. In the most damaging case, I spent years carrying the pain around with me, waiting for the phone calls of apology. I nurtured that pain, feeling justified and righteous, knowing that I did not deserve the years of mis-treatment from them, and that there would someday be an epiphany that would lead to them coming to me with arms open wide. I would finally have what I needed, which was acceptance for who I was and all that I had been, and continue, trying to do.

And you know what? I finally realized that those calls would never come. Maybe pride or a belief that I deserved the treatment that I got would never allow them to apologize or acknowledge my place in their lives.

So, being an analytical type of gal, I then had to ponder what to do with my need for apology as well as the need to have a situation that would allow me to forgive them. Because it was crushing me beneath the weight of anger, sadness and rejection to the point that at times I had trouble catching my breath.

Should I continue suckling at the teat of hurt and rejection? Drop hints or openly confront them on how I’d been wronged and hope for an apology to come? To get people to acknowledge that they aren’t, in actuality, any better than me? That we are all just animated lumps of meat with frailties, gifts, fears and beautiful flaws? That you don’t have to make someone feel worse to feel better about yourself? To break through facades built up over lifetimes in order for them to deal with things that were done to them?

Or, should I just forgive them? Let go all of the pain, rejection and loss that I felt. (Or at least try to). It seemed impossible and unlikely, but I’d heard some TV shrink talk about it, and while I initially scoffed, the possibility of freeing myself was tantalizing.

So, I simply stood in front of a mirror, went through some of the most egregious and painful events, and spoke them out loud while looking myself in eye. And then I told myself how I felt: rejected, diminished, foolish, ugly, unloved, fat and unworthy. You’d think I felt ridiculous or silly, but didn’t. I was caught up in it, as pent up as these feelings were. Hell, the venting aloud itself was cathartic.

Then I closed my eyes and thought long and hard on whether or not forgiveness was in my heart for the pain that I spoke aloud as well and all the pain I didn’t. I again looked myself in the eye, and said, “I forgive ‘A’. I forgive ‘B’. I forgive ‘C’ … And on and on down the list of people related to this long-term issue. I then gave myself permission to drop that load and move on without it. I know there are some that will call it crazy, (and I could NOT care less) but it took that physical tangible act for me to be able to begin to move past it. Hearing an apology from them was not something that I had control over. The only control I could exert was how I let it affect me and impact the rest of my life and future relationships.

The apologies never came. I’m convinced they never will. Now, I won’t lie and say there isn’t still insecurity and sadness. And a few aspects still haunt me.  But I’m freed from it, at least as much as if they had apologized and maybe even more than that. Because I did it for myself. I took control of how much more time I would waste on them and the pain they brought me over the years.

In talking with my aforementioned troubled friend, I could see how the continued burden weighed on her. Plus, there is a continuing issue that keeps these people in her life. Another friend and I tried to convince her to once and for all cut those ties, and move on past them. Don’t waste another minute on people that make you feel bad, especially since they may not agree that an apology is in order.

“I forgive.” Two simple words that mean so much. Who cares if the oblivious people that committed the painful acts that inspired it never hear it? And no, I’m not saying that if an apology is given that you should withhold forgiveness. That’s a personal choice you have to make. But I figure that life is pretty fragile and extremely short, so why not? It will likely make you feel even better for taking the high road.

16 Responses to “Forgiveness”

  1. Scott Roche Says:

    I just watched Devil last night and it’s central theme was forgiveness. I agree with what you said here. We need to forgive people at some point, even if they don’t ask for it. Now to do so may take a lot of time and soul searching, but I think it’s the healthy (in addition to the high) road.

  2. TerminusVox Says:

    Bravo!

  3. J.R. Blackwell Says:

    What a beautiful post. Letting go of anger is so hard, and I know that sometimes it is comforting to hold on to the bad feelings, just because they are familiar, but your post really highlights how important forgiveness is for each person, to let go and embrace something better.

  4. Viv Says:

    J.R.,
    Thank you for the read, the kind comment and the sharing of this post. It’s extremely comforting to know that I have people in my life that embrace positivity as you do. It makes it much easier to strip away defenses and write a post like this. <3

  5. Dee Says:

    Viv, you have hit the nail on the head. It’s a process, and sometimes you have to forgive folks many times for many things before you have peace, but forgiveness and peace go hand in hand. No matter how long you carry anger and hurt, it can be put down eventually.

    And the hardest person to forgive is always yourself. Glad you’re feeling better; this is gorgeous.

  6. Viv Says:

    Dee,
    It’s so true. I’ve tried to grant carte blanche forgiveness to folks so that their unkind ways no longer hurt. I can’t seem to actually make that happen, but continue to try.

    Thank you so much for your continued kindness and generosity of spirit, it means so much.

  7. Chooch Schubert Says:

    Great post. Proud of you! <3

  8. Viv Says:

    Chooch,
    You being proud of me sends me over the moon. Thanks to you for being everything that I need, before I know I need it. <3

  9. Sue Says:

    This is a lesson I understand. It is a process that is difficult at best to work through. Your beautiful and heartfelt words have helped to cement this lesson on my heart. I can’t honestly say I am at that point where I can forgive all but I am working my way there. Thank you for this. I am sure I will return to read this again and again as I get where I need to be.

  10. Viv Says:

    Sue,
    The process is difficult in the best of circumstances, but nearly impossible while those that are hurting you continue to mash your heart.

    With the dozen or so folks during my life that this applies to, I’ve forgiven every cruel word (that I’m aware of) and misrepresentation of me and who I am. Even though I will always love them and wish them nothing but happiness, their words have proven them to be people that I cannot let “in” again. They were all relationships may have been mended, but now I know that I was careless in my trust and arm myself with evidence of these things to keep my strong for my own good when my heart softens towards reconnection, as was happening recently. Forgive, certainly. Life is short. But forget and reopen myself to attack? No.

    I continue to love those people, but in reaction to my treatment I must stand and protect my self behind walls of defense, civility and distance. I still consider myself blessed for having them in my life, but it makes me treasure the truer bonds with people who actually understand me even more.

    In my most humble observation, peace will come, and in a strange way, it’s waiting on us to give ourselves permission to have it.

  11. Phil Rossi Says:

    Lovely.

  12. Viv Says:

    Phil,
    Knowing you and your beautifully family makes it easier to move past ugliness in the world. #Tigerblood

  13. Martha Says:

    Thank you for sharing your insight, Viv. It’s a hard lesson for many to learn and one that, unfortunately, must sometimes be repeated. Having a guide like you makes learning that lesson easier, whether for the first time or for the last.

    Whenever I find myself too focused on the negative, I tell myself, “You can’t control the stimulus. Control the response.” How others act is not in my control, but how I respond to their actions is.

    And it helps keep me sane while wrangling a contrary toddler.

  14. Viv Says:

    Martha,
    Thank you for such kind words! I have to frequently remind myself of the same thing. It’s my reactions that make me who I am, not the actions of others.
    And I feel for you on the toddler end of things. Having recently had a lot of time with toddlers, I told Chooch that I’m definitely past the point where I can wrangle little ones easily. I don’t know how I ever had the energy!

  15. Sara Nash Says:

    Bingo! It takes a lot of energy to hold onto that kind of stuff. Forgiving or letting go is a wise thing to do. Of course, it’s always easier said than done.

  16. Viv Says:

    Sara, ALWAYS! I’d be a hypocrite to say that it’s something easily done. Many thanks for the read and the comment!

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