Thursday, June 21, 2012

Forgiveness....from others & from yourself.


My God – have you ever really thought about how heavy a word that is? How many emotions it can evoke? How many times that literally lifting a truck over your head would seem more possible than actually practicing or giving forgiveness? How often do we say, “I forgive you” but we really don’t? Have you thought about how sometimes when people don’t receive it or it is withheld from them – that they never recover?

That’s a lot of power in one little word.

Do you know anyone who truly teaches how to forgive? Do you have trouble giving it or receiving it? Has someone withheld it from you? Would you be a different person if you could give it or receive it?

I don’t know.

What I know is that I would consider myself a person who loves too hard and too much and is overly sensitive and hates conflict. That being said – I feel like I forgive easily – only to stop the conflict that I can’t stand to be in.

I’ve often heard that forgiving someone doesn’t mean you are saying that what they did was right – but that you choose to let go of the anger you carry about what they did. For me – I don’t quite understand that.

I used to think there was nothing that was unforgivable…until I got older. When life started happening, I realized there are some things you can never take back or let go of.

Like the day my 22 year old Uncle shot himself – thereby shooting a part of me too because I was only 15 and didn’t understand the painful ache he left in my heart. Almost 25 years later and while I’m less angry – I’ll admit I still am. I’d be a whole different person had he not taken his life. I can’t explain how much it rocked my world in a bad way.

And even closing in on being 40 years old…I cannot forgive him. That may make me no better than his actions – but I just can’t.

I can’t seem to forgive Alzheimer’s, the disease – as a physical thing that stole my Grandma’s soul in front of my eyes. I can’t forgive cancer for killing my other Grandma. I can’t forgive cancer for giving me the memory of someone I loved take their last breath.

I just can’t forgive – even though I know damn well that these people and things I can’t forgive – made me who I am today.

And how about that person? How about self-forgiveness? I almost cringe at the word. What is it in us that makes us self-loathe? What is it in us that justifies that as okay? We abhor bullies. We swear we won’t tolerate it in others yet we give ourselves free reign to bring ourselves to our knees in self-inflicted tears.

The biggest open wounds and old scars on my heart….

….were put there by me. And the cycle perpetuates itself because I can’t seem to self-forgive myself regarding those wounds and scars. I can’t let go of the feeling that those wounds and scars were well deserved. Rightfully put there. By the self-bully in me.

I need to work on this. Kelly’s post today got me to thinking about this. I have trouble forgiving people for leaving me and things like cancer for inflicting pain on me but the real problem is that I can’t forgive myself…for big things and little things. For everything.

For requiring perfection of myself
And then for not reaching those perfection standards
For not being the person I think I should be
For not being able to forgive people and things that have hurt me.
For carrying around pain from my childhood
For not being the perfect mom and wife
For not working out enough or eating healthy enough
For not believing in myself
For feeling like I don’t deserve love or happiness

And a million other things…that I can’t be nicer to myself about or forgive myself for. It’s important. I mean have you ever looked in the mirror and looked into your own eyes and said out loud – “I forgive you” – and truly meant it. I’m not sure how that would feel.

Like a clean slate? Refreshing? Relieving? Fake? Too good to be true?

Amazing? Like everything I’ve always wanted?

I suppose it would and I think I might try it – but not until when I say those words – I can believe them. When I tell myself I’m forgiven – I want to know it’s true.

For the first time in my life, forgiveness is being withheld from me by someone I love. And it’s a constant dark cloud hanging over me. The person knows that I’m sorry….but at the same time the person has said they will not let me even merely ASK for forgiveness – much less grant it to me. What makes it worse is that what happened isn’t that unforgivable. It’s not life shattering. But not forgiving certain things also gives that person power.

And sometimes we can’t let go of the power that holding unforgiveness gives us. Like my Uncle. If I don’t forgive him – then I hold the power still – over what we had and what we will never have again. I say when the hurt is over and when it’s not. I say when I get to stop being angry. I have the power to make him pay in some way for what he did to me. It’s all I have left of him – the unforgiving. Not forgiving him IS our relationship and a part of me is probably worried that once I forgive him – then I have to let go. Anger and not forgiving him are the only tie I have left to him at this point.

All I really know is that forgiveness is hard. Self-forgiveness though? Seems to be even harder. I’ve actually never even given it a try. Never believed I was worthy of anyone’s forgiveness – much less my own.

I was wrong. There are a lot of things I’ve messed up. Lots of things I’ve never let myself let go of. Lots of things I still carry the blame for. And I want to tell myself that what I’ve done or not done is okay. That I forgive myself…that I’m only human.

I’m pretty sure if I want forgiveness from others….it has to start from within.

But it sure doesn’t sound like fun.

How about you? How do you feel about this topic?


angel shrout said...

Sweetie forgiveness is HUGE. self forgiveness is monumental. But the catch is the anger and unforgiving spirit affects more then we realize. Holding it has an affect on our health and wellbeing. Look just email me otherwise I will write a book. Forgiveness is about saying I refuse to allow that pain to hold me back. It doesn't free the person you forgive from blame it simply says you are tired of their actions holding you back.

The Dandy Bandy said... really know how to make us think. I am sitting here at my desk crying... I share alot of those feelings with you. Especially about self-forgiveness. I'm trying... I'll get there. I've held that forgiveness power many times in my life. I just wish bad things never happened... I HATE confrontation and I too have forgiven before I was ready to just to end confrontation...

LDswims said...

What a beautiful blog. You are so much stronger than you give yourself credit for. And you are right, it's a choice. When you are ready to choose otherwise, I firmly believe you will.

How about for the person that won't let you even ASK for forgiveness, let alone grant it, YOU forgive them for that. THAT is the power you DO have.

Perspective can be everything.

I always love what my step-dad used to say. "At the end of the day, if you can sleep with yourself, then you're doing pretty good." And it's true. I may not forgive myself like I should, Lord knows you know I don't. But I also know I can sleep with myself, too. I give myself just enough credit for being a work in progress that while forgiveness is elusive, acceptance that of that continual progress matters just as much.

Sometimes more than others.

Beautiful blog. I love you.

Steph said...

Where is it written that we have to forgive someone in order to better our own health and well being. Not forgiving someone is powerful and it is something I embrace and it gives me strength. Why should I forgive a man who molested me as a 5 year old and continuted to sexually assualt me for 9 years? Why should I give HIM the luxury of forgiveness? His actions no longer hold me back as a woman, a wife or a mother, but certain things don't deserve forgiveness.

Self forgiveness is something only you can do. I spent years beating myself up over bad decisions I made because I wasn't strong enough to make the right ones. I blamed the loss of a pregnancy on an abortion I had a decade earlier. God was punishing me, I insisted. Honestly, if you believe in God, he is the one who will always forgive you...but you need to forgive yourself. Do you go to a therapist? They really do help...and will help you see that as you continue to self flagellate, you will only continue to perpetuate the cycle.

Kelly said...

Oh Drazil, I wish I could just hug you through this computer right now. There is no rule or written law that says that we MUST forgive anyone, but I will say this, and this applies to forgiving another person and self-forgiveness too. It takes a COLOSSAL amount of energy to hold that kind of grudge, that kind of resentment, and that kind of hatred, that kind of anger against someone forever. To waste that kind of energy is useless, in my opinion, when said energy can be focused some where else. It gives the other person way too much power over you - power they do not deserve to possess. Because you are so much more than that. You are a wonderful woman that I am so grateful and extremely lucky to have in my life. You mean so much to so many people. You are important. You do matter. You are so much more than any of these negative thoughts and feelings. And - I don't know what I would do without you. I love you.

speck said...

I've forgiven others and myself over my 47 years of life.

But several months ago I experienced what I call a real feeling of forgiveness.

My sister died a little over a year ago. I had a great relationship with my brother-in-law for 36 years.

That all ended when he had a girlfriend a month later and eventually gave her and her family all my sister's belongings, antiques, furnishings, etc.(SEX MAKES MEN DO STUPID THINGS!!!!!)

I know about a month ago I forgave him. I heard a sermon at church and bawded my eyes out. I saw him shortly afterwards and went up to him and said hello. I cried when I did that. (and yes he saw me crying)

When I walked away, I knew I had forgiven him.

I knew it was for me and NOT for him! :)

Thank you for this topic and your honesty.

Laura Belle said...

There are no words. This is a close topic to me, and I think you know that.

I love you.

Andrea said...

So true!