Forgiveness

I’ve been struggling a lot lately with forgiveness.  And I’ve come back to this post several times but walk away feeling unsure as to how to put words to this struggle.  Forgive and forget.  Move on.  Forgiveness will set you free.. and the blah, blah, blah of all those face.book positive outlook quote bullshit thingies.

I get it.

But how do you forgive someone who never takes responsibility for their behaviour or asks for forgiveness?

I make a lot of allowances for people’s asshole behaviour.  I try to understand it.  Behaviour has meaning.  I try to empathize with where they are coming from, why they behave the way they do and that allows me to tolerate them just a little bit more.

I wouldn’t say I’m generally one to hold a grudge, per se, but there are some things that I am not willing to excuse.  Mostly it’s the Momma bear in me — hurt the ones I love (or me) and we’re done.  And I believe in that fiercely… but you have to be a pretty big douche to get the royal kick out the door.  Maybe it’s not the healthiest way to deal, but I can’t seem to find it in me to give any energy to relationships that clearly don’t deserve it.

And I don’t think I really set the bar that high… really, I don’t.  We all make mistakes.  We can all be assholes sometimes, saying and doing things we wish we could take back or change.  We are human.  I get that.  But I seem to always be the black sheep… because I won’t just put my head in the sand and pretend that bad things didn’t happen.  There’s been some things that have happened over the last year or so that have been very hurtful to me and my family.  In both instances the “offender” if you will, behaved awfully.  I understand the behaviour.  I know why they did what they did.  What I don’t understand, is that in these two very separate instances, they expected to be let back into the lives of my family without taking responsibility for the offensive behaviour.  Without saying a word, in one circumstance.  The others in my family who were involved in these situations, complied and allowed for the relationship to resume.  But I just can’t do it.  One situation isn’t really my battle to fight, so I don’t really care what the outcome is and the choices the person makes, but it drives me crazy just the same.  Are we just going to pretend these really major things didn’t happen?! That these people behaved in the most awful way possible during a time when their support should have been front and centre?!

Maybe it’s a lifetime of disappointing relationships with people who should be there who drastically let me down that have tainted my heart.  Like I said, I feel like I’m always the black sheep because I’m not willing to just pretend that things are hunky-dory, when others seem to have no problem letting bygones be bygones.  I’m a loyal friend… I think my friends would say that about me.  Even during this infertility and babyloss hell when I’ve been the worst friend in the world, I would still say that I have been honest about my shit and remained loyal.  I don’t let a lot of people in (shocking, since I write the narcissistic blog and all) but I don’t really let a lot of people in to the real me.  I know it’s a mechanism to protect my heart.  You can’t hurt me if I don’t let you close enough to do so.  So when those who I have let in hurt me, you don’t get another chance.  You don’t get another chance.

I don’t carry this shit around with me and think about it constantly, I really don’t.  It’s not like it haunts me.  Most days, I don’t even think about it.  It’s a post that I’ve been meaning to write for a long time to simply stop drafting and redrafting versions in my already over-worked brain.  It’s been something that I wanted to get out because it does make me sad when I think about it.  I know that I could resume this relationship if I just played along, but how can I do that to myself?  And it all could have been avoided if the words “I’m sorry” were uttered… but they never were… and now it’s too late in my books.

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5 responses to “Forgiveness

  • Kelly

    This definitely hits home for me. I just wrote the other day about how I’m still holding so many grudges, and I remember every single thing that everyone said or didn’t say to me about our baby. Somehow my husband is able to let these things go, but oh my, how I’ve held it in.

  • kendall

    I can’t stand Dr. Phil, but occasionally he gets it right–forgiveness is something you do for yourself, not for other people. Additionally, don’t confuse forgiving with forgetting–just because you’ve forgiven someone doesn’t mean you are expected to forget what they did. If you suspect there is a strong likelihood that the slight will be repeated or is part of an ongoing pattern of toxicity, you are under no obligation to extend friendship (again) and risk getting hurt (again). However, if you believe the individual(s) made a temporary error in judgement and is either too embarrassed or too clueless to say they’re sorry, you might want to consider giving them a second chance. I guess what I’m really saying is, your forgiveness should not be contingent upon their apology–for your sake, not for theirs–and you won’t be able to decide if you can let them back into your life until that forgiveness occurs.

  • Cristy

    I’m right there with you, lady. Too often, people become frustrated with me because I refuse to look the other way over behavior patterns that are clearly harmful to me or those I love. I’ve been accused of being an ice-queen, a bitch and even a bully because of this. Yet enabling someone to be so destructive simply because one doesn’t want to be viewed as not being “nice” is rarely helpful.

    I think the big thing has been learning to pick my battles. When it really worthwhile, I will without a doubt say something. But for the times it’s not, I find simply writing the offender off is for the best. To forgive them for their failings and to move on with life. You’re absolutely right: forgiveness is a hard thing. But by doing it, I find I regain the time and energy I would otherwise spend hating them. Does it mean I forget? Oh hell no! That’s not what forgiveness is about.

    You have an amazingly huge heart. And it stucks when people walk all over it (trust me, I know this). But you’re not crazy for feeling this way. Just be kind to yourself and I know you’ll find the path to forgiving, but not forgetting.

  • Daryl

    Very good advice from the ladies above. I would just add (as my therapist constantly reminds me) that you get to choose who is part of your life. If this is a pattern of behavior that’s going to continue, it might be best just to let it go (forgive, in a sense) and move on without this person.

  • psychsarah

    It’s serendipitous that the idea of forgiveness keeps coming up in my life/mind/practice these days. It’s interesting to hear how people define forgiveness… Does it mean accepting people’s poor behaviour? Does it mean acting like all is well, even if it doesn’t feel that way? Does it mean letting go of anger/hurt in order to live a better life for yourself? No easy answers, it seems. Particularly difficult when you can’t perceive any regret/remorse from the “offenders”. At some point, I wonder, if the relationship is important to you (or someone you love) you just write it off as ignorance/stupidity/gross insensitivity (or whatever) and choose to behave in a way that allows that relationship to be maintained, even if it’s in a different way than before. Don’t know-easy to say maybe, hard to do… Only you know what hurts you more-forgiving or not forgiving… if the answer is the latter, like Kendall and Dr. Phil (who I, for the record, loathe, but will give him a nod for this idea) said, you do it for yourself. If it’s the former, then, que sera sera…

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