Saturday, March 19, 2016

Coming to terms with Forgiveness - Day 2

My thoughts of Forgiveness:
Day 40 of last year or Day 2 of this year’s repeat cycle.
Last year I started a 40 day journey of learning about forgiveness and the process of forgiving.

I found that often the common quotes about forgiveness give rise to more questions than they answer.  I actually found myself at day 39 unable to complete the project.  I actually became angry with all the platitudes.

This year I will be looking at some of the same quotes only from the perspective of what has changed in me as I have had another year to work on my own healing journey.

First I want to say that I have come to the conclusion that most of the rhetoric about forgiveness is rather shallow.  We are almost bullied into "forgiving" as if that is the path to healing.  There are so many statements stating that forgiving will allow you to move on and heal, or the healing power of forgiveness.  Etcetera, etcetera!  If you have been struggling with the concept of forgiveness you possibly have read all the platitudes that I have.  If you have walked away from those oversimplified proclamations on forgiveness feeling diminished for your inability to “simply forgive” then you know what I am addressing. 

The reality, I have come to believe is that it is the other way around.  First we must find a way to heal our emotional wounds and when we are healed we find that we can forgive. I don’t think there is a short cut to forgiving.  Forgiving comes after a lot of deep soul searching and hard work on the self, personal values and core principles that are central in the way you see yourself.

Since healing is not an easy journey; I feel that getting to that place of being able to forgive is not easy.  I know in this day and age of “instant everything”, we don’t like to hear this.  Wouldn’t it be so much easier to just accept the platitude of “forgive and move on” than to spend time learning about yourself, what motivates you, what your character weaknesses are, how your weakness either contributed to the situation, or your response to the situation.  Self-awareness and self-analysis is not for the timid.  To look in the mirror and fully reveal yourself to yourself requires courage and beyond courage, bravery to face even that which is struggling to remain hidden.

However I can say this; the more I heal, the more I understand myself and my needs and accept that I am allowed to go through all the emotions I need to get through, the closer I find myself getting to a place where I can contemplate forgiveness, not as a absolution of guilt, for their guilt will always remain for making the choices that they did, but as a starting point for letting the past be truly in the past

Walking the healing path toward forgiveness also means that I will be at a place of being ready to hear any attempts at atonement should that be somewhere in the future.  I believe we can't listen to contrition, if we are still filled with hurt and anger and resentment.  

In order to be in a place where atonement meets forgiveness, I have to face all that makes me angry and work through those emotions and make peace with my right to be angry.  Then I have to bravely face what it means to translate that anger into something that will become a building block towards managing my responses, not for them, but for me, so that I act and /or react in the kind of manner that reflects my principles and my values. 

By changing how I self-talk, I effectively change my reactions, not by suppressing what were or are inappropriate actions or behaviours in others, but by being able to build up strong boundaries that protect me from reacting in a negative manner. To instead develop ability to react in a positive self affirming manner that reflects self respect and the refusal to be treated badly.  

Healing for me leads to forgiveness because the changes in me allow me to be forgiving.  

Healing leads me to a place where I can conceive of being willing to forgive. 

Healing leads me to a place of compassion for the person who did the hurting (and their own inner issues that they have not yet resolved), which is very different than acceptance of the hurting behaviour.

Healing allows me to see the mistakes of others from a place of compassion and tolerance, again without condoning their behaviour.

Healing allows me to realize that I deserve and should expect certain changes in behaviour in those who have hurt me before I give them the opportunity to re-enter my life. 

Forgiveness does not mean I have to accept once again that which was unacceptable before, rather, forgiveness allows me to embrace the possibility of personal growth and changes in those who have hurt me, to give them the benefit of the doubt that they won’t repeat those actions.

Healing teaches me that I must remain aware and maintain my boundaries and to not be blind to the possibility that there is a possibility of repeat offense.

Healing teaches me that I have the right to hold others accountable for the way they treat me. This is key for me, that I have the right to remove myself from harms way!

Yes I do believe that healing comes before forgiving, healing is what I do for myself so that I am capable of forgiving those who have wronged me. The other way around I am just once again putting the needs of others before my own, and that is exactly what landed me in the mess that I am in in the first place.

Renate Dundys Marrello

2016 – 03 – 18

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