Search This Blog

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The quality of forgiveness is not strain'd

What is forgiveness?
According to
Forgiveness (noun)
1. act of forgiving; state of being forgiven.
2. disposition or willingness to forgive.
Well, that was truly bloody useless! The verb form’s a tad more illuminating.
Forgive (verb)
1. to grant pardon for or remission of (an offense, debt, etc.); absolve.
2. to grant pardon to (a person).
3. to cease to feel resentment against
From the Mayo Clinic’s page on forgiveness:
Generally, forgiveness is a decision to let go of resentment and thoughts of revenge. The act that hurt or offended you might always remain a part of your life, but forgiveness can lessen its grip on you and help you focus on other, more positive parts of your life. Forgiveness can even lead to feelings of understanding, empathy and compassion for the one who hurt you.

Forgiveness doesn't mean that you deny the other person's responsibility for hurting you, and it doesn't minimize or justify the wrong. You can forgive the person without excusing the act.
You can forgive a person without wanting to associate with them any longer. You can forgive a person AND not want them in your life any longer. And that’s OK. Wanting/needing an end to a connection and the act of forgiveness can coexist.

This is/was a revelation to me—that forgiveness isn’t just an element in a relationship repair kit. It’s something I do for myself so that I’m not toting around a mega ton of anger, sad and pain every day.

My brother wreaked havoc throughout his childhood. He had a sense of entitlement the size of Jupiter, seemed to believe that he was incapable of putting a foot wrong AND he was violent. Very. He stole from me, destroyed my belongings, threw me across rooms, broke a few of my bones...ah, you get the picture. He was an extremely troubled kid. And he was my mother’s favorite.

That I despised my brother, hurt my mother terribly. She wanted us to be a happy family. Of course. She’d occasionally prompt him to apologize which he’d do, without any understanding of WHY this odious task was required of him. Afterward, it was expected that everything would be ALL better. Now we could be a picture perfect famiglia with big sis, me, taking good care of the bright shining son. Honestly, my mother never understood why I didn’t want to hang with my brother—why I didn’t love him as she did.

It’s relatively easy to say “I’m sorry” and a whole ‘nother bag ‘o” cats to recognize one’s own heinous behavior, walk a new path, change. Really change—none of this superficial “I go to church every week and say ‘Praise Jesus/God’ every third sentence so I MUST be a fabulously good person now,” horseshit.
Yes, my brother eventually lost the physical violence but, like a destructive alky who quits drinking but is still a mondo dick, my brother continued to be ego-maniacal and oblivious. A friend assured me that he was better—I was no longer living there by then. “He’s like Homer Simpson now. A doofus but more or less harmless.” I was relieved.

Sure, I forgave my brother—I don’t carry my anger. I’ve even, over the long years since childhood, come to understand, maybe, a little of how he came to be the person he is/was.

That doesn’t mean that I want to be around him. My mother’s definition of forgiveness required that I remain in close contact with my brother—take him under my wing even—act as though nothing untoward had happened. I couldn't do that.

I now know that forgiveness doesn’t preclude self preservation. It doesn't obviate my own happiness and fulfillment.

Huh. Waddya know.

“You will find that it is necessary to let things go; simply for the reason that they are heavy."
~C. JoyBell C.

No comments:

Post a Comment