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Forgiveness - No Idea How to Do This

Wednesday, July 16, 2014


What is it? What does it mean to me? So much to say, yet so little.

I don't know how to do it.

My counselor asked if I ever had it modelled for me. I sat and thought and thought, then said, "no". Then I remembered the only forgiving person that I could think of - and I *really* don't get how she could do it. My father's first wife was Bernie. I am the oldest child from my father's second marriage. Bernie somehow managed to move on from being left by my father when she had four little kids and was pregnant with #5. I don't get this. About three years ago I reconnected with my half-siblings - they and Bernie have always been so welcoming to me. I don't get it. I wouldn't exist if my father hadn't done to them what he did.

To me, forgiveness implies accepting, being okay with what happened. And letting people off the hook. I am not okay with what happened/is happening that has lead to the grudges I carry.

I know intellectually that this grudge carrying isn't going to make others change, apologize or care about me. I know that some things can't change. I know that carrying it isn't helpful to me. Yet, I carry the resentment around.

I feel the need to speak up for myself here and say that I *am* a nice person. I usually put others first in my life, both outside of and at work. I am really good at helping customers at my store - and have gotten recognition and a promotion because of this. I am challenged to take good care of myself. If something comes up for someone else, I usually toss out my plans for me to take care of them first. My primary issue is that I feel like I don't matter - to others or myself.

At the risk of exposing myself and my pettiness, I am going to list my grudges. They don't have to make sense, be extreme, or be solvable. They are what I am carrying around:

Mother - For modelling the "poor me, victim, grudge carrying" way of life. For getting old, needing me to supervise her care and run her around. For not making my brother be a good brother. For putting me in the position to take care of her emotionally after the divorce, when she should've been taking care of me. For feeling like I have to earn love and attention - specifically by achieving in school (she was a teacher).

Father - My grudges against him eased a lot after his death - there was no longer hope of a reconciliation. For leaving us. For leaving two wives and sets of kids. For marrying a woman (wife #3) with a son who had the same birthday as I. For not being a good father post-divorce and beyond. For not being a doting dad, loving his little girl. For setting me up with my fears of financial insecurity, being in a car accident, feeling like I don't really matter.

Brother, John - For being a social guy with lots of lifelong friends and close extended family relationships, yet he doesn't seek me out. For not speaking up to his wife when she went bat-sh!t crazy on me about HIS choice to do something for our mother, something I didn't know needed doing. For taking his wife's side and joining in the private attacks via email and text messages. For moving out-of-state, leaving me with sole responsibility to be on-call for our mother. And taking my dear nieces away. For not inviting me to his new home. For unfriending me on FB and not refriending me.

SIL, Jen - For going bat-sh!t crazy on me about my brother's choice to do something for our mother. And doing that publicly on Facebook. She eventually apologized for saying what she did publicly, but not for how she felt about what I didn't do. For saying I wasn't welcome to the family Christmas at their house unless I apologized - for respectfully standing up for myself. For not appreciating all that I have done for her family, including lots of free babysitting and help with a newborn. For having a close relationship with *my* aunt, and any relationship with *my* half sister.

Sister, Glo - For never being the my-sister-is-my-best-friend kind of sister. For getting MS, which changed her memory and personality, so it is hard to even have a conversation with her and not know what inappropriate comment is going to fly out of her mouth. For leaving me feeling like I should be doing something for her.

Inlaws - For not being the fantasy second family I wanted. For having vastly different, sometimes extreme political/social views. For not being welcoming.

DH, Dave - For not having a stable career, for not watching out for his career. The last episode of unemployment really unsettled me - still. It's like I am waiting for the next its-not-my-fault-there-were-la
yoffs-again job loss. For not being a go-get-em kind of person - career, household projects, our relationship. For having ADHD - and presumably passing it on to our son.

Me - For being an emotional eater. For letting myself gain a bunch of weight during DH's job loss - and not losing it after he got a job. For carrying these darn resentments. For not having my act together. For not being able to financially support myself and my family. For having all this education (BA, MA), yet *only* working retail. For leaving the profession of social work 23 years ago to get my act together - and still not have it together. For not being a better parent - for believing I may have messed up with my 19YO DD like my mother did with me - for not knowing how to deal with my 13YO son because he is a guy and has ADHD. For not having a tidy house. For not having a tidy yard. For having an imperfect body and imperfectly dealing with my knee problems. For watching Netflix and eating, eating, eating in the evenings.

I am rather fearful about sharing all this. And about what I am about to say - I am not Christian, I do not belong to a church, though I grew up in one, went through the motions. I fear rejection because of this. I accept other people's choices, including my DH's and DD's - who goes to a Christian college and may seek an MDiv. Please, please respect my choice. I want to be accepted for who I am. I want to matter, no matter what.

Guess I have another resentment: Dr. K, my former med doc/psychiatrist - For literally preaching to me about forgiveness, telling me I should forgive like Jesus. This was during a med appointment, in a non-Christian facility setting - and she continued even after I said I wasn't Christian. I sat stunned through the appointment in order to get my script, then I fired her ass by getting a new doc and filed a formal complaint about her inappropriate behavior. I had gone into the appointment proud and wanting to share how I'd respectfully stood up for myself in the incidents with my bro and SIL, not stooping to their level. And I felt attacked and not respected. And I resent that my DH still sees her for his med, presumably because it requires less effort than to find a new doc.

This is the beginning of my exploring forgiveness. Please be kind, please be respectful. I'm not sure what my next steps will be.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • BETRHO48
    Wow. What a tough blog this must have been to write!
    I truly feel for your pain and anguish. Unfortunately, people are people, and many often look out only for #1 and their own selfish interests. I know it is hard to see, but those things don't really belong to you. This is really hard to understand because the hurts resulting from those things do belong to you.

    I pray that you will be able to let them go (aka forgive) because as long as you carry them with you as baggage (grudges), those feelings (grudges) will continue to gnaw at you and hurt you. By carrying them with you, you are allowing them to continue to control you and make you feel bad (and then you eat, eat, eat). I know this from personal experience because for years I held anger and resentment toward a person whom I felt had betrayed me and my son, and it seriously affected my health. It has taken a long time, but I am doing better since I recognized that I was the one who was allowing that person to exert emotional control over me, I was responsible for how I felt. I had to let go of all of that (aka forgive) for the sake of my own health.
    emoticon and best wishes,
    1694 days ago
    You are a good person who has just had some bad family problems forgive yourself my heart goes out to you
    emoticon emoticon
    1695 days ago
    Carrying a grudge/ resentment / anger is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die. It hurts us and the other person may not even be aware of it.

    Forgiving doesn't mean what happened was any less bad or wrong, it doesn't let anyone off the hook or lessen any consequences (i.e. jail time) that should happen, it just means that you let go and move on with your life.

    Forgiving is letting go of the belief that the past could have been different than what it was.

    emoticon Best wishes.
    1705 days ago
  • CHERYLA2012
    First and foremeost, this is your blog - your space - and I certainly hope that if a fellow Sparker does not care for what they read in this post that they know there are plenty of other pages out there (and they need to go find another page)!

    All in your own good time, my SparkFriend, all in your own good time. One day you may simply decide you no longer want to drag around the weight of "what is in your own head" aka "grudges" and you will choose to let them go.

    For a long time I was afraid that by forgiving it would mean among other things, that I would forget what happened and risk being hurt again. Slowly but surely I began to let things go and what shocked me was that I did not forget, but I did feel lighter.

    It was the first of many steps in dealing with my Emotional Eating - that I would no longer have to worry about holding on to all that negativity. Holding on was hurting me, not them. And I was no longer willing to hurt myself for other people's thoughts, behavior, feelings, and actions.

    1706 days ago
    emoticon Mary

    As I look through your list I am hoping that writing this has helped you identify some healing opportunities.

    I am certainly not an expert in the field and just wanted to say I realize that was not an easy blog to write and as you can see, holding on to all that resentment isn't hurting the people who have hurt/harmed you in the past, it is hurting yourself.

    As for a tidy house, tidy yard, etc. Those are within your control. Someone having MS or ADHD , not so much. Perhaps now that you have listed all of them, you could sort them into columns of "Things I can do something about" and "Things I need to learn from and then let go"?

    Next step for the ones you CAN do something about would be some type of plan breaking them down into small "bite size" pieces.

    IE: I will have a tidy home
    I will vacuum once a week
    I will take out the trash on trash day
    I will set a timer and unclutter for at least 15 minutes each day

    Tiny steps that are easy to do.

    Just my thoughts.

    1706 days ago
  • PCOH051610

    I'm really not sure how I stumbled across this blog but I thank you for writing it AND for sharing it. I know it wasn't easy to write - but I hope you feel a bit better by getting it all off your chest.

    Your psychiatrist sounded like a real gem (yes, I'm being sarcastic) - I've been seeing one for years due to severe depression. The worse advice I was ever given was "all of your problems would disappear if you met your husband after work with open arms"

    Anyway, I just wanted to let you know that I can relate to much of what you wrote?

    emoticon Susan
    1706 days ago
    Forgiveness----I don't think of forgiveness as accepting what someone may have done that negatively affected me. I see it more as a "letting go". I don't want that action to rule my every day life. For me, it is not a one time thing...done and move on. It is a work in progress. Sometimes, I have to remind myself..."let it go". You have a lot that hurts your heart. I wish you the best with days of lightness in your heart. emoticon
    1706 days ago
    Thank you for your honest and vulnerable sharing. Forgiveness comes when you decide you want to do it. It is your life and your decision. You may want to consider reading some articles about forgiveness and what it is and is not. A quote that motivates me is "do not spend too much of today on yesterday". emoticon
    1706 days ago
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