I think this is my most important goal because the fact that I am not very forgiving underlies many of my relations, and seriously impedes their progress. It also affects my perception of myself, and I would be happier if I could learn to forgive.
I have a lot to forgive, and I know that forgiveness is not really for the person who did the wronging, but for yourself – it hurts to be angry, resentful, detached or cold, and the more you do that, the more it strengthens the habit until you don’t know how to do otherwise. It takes effort and energy to be angry, resentful, detached or cold; to obsess over how they shouldn’t have done what they did, how they should feel bad for it, puzzling over how anyone could just carry on not knowing how bad they’ve hurt you, wondering if they hate you or you should hate them, feeling torn between hating them because you think they deserve it and guilt for feeling that way because hatred doesn’t fit in with your view of your good self.
The only person that I can think of that I’ve forgiven (I mean for something serious, not day-to-day trivialities), is my sister. I didn’t talk to her for 10 months after Christmas 2008 after we had a fall-out. I was angry at first, but as time went by, I didn’t feel the heat of that anger so much, and although I didn’t condone her behaviour, I felt that by doing our own separate things meant that I didn’t have the stress of having to relate with her and have more arguments and dramas. 10 months later, when I called my Dad and my sister answered, we caught up and I could tell she’d changed.
We never talked too much about our feelings on it, didn’t reopen wounds and go in deep. Time had done most of the work, and other than some brief reconciliations and expressions of regret over what had happened, and admissions of fault on both sides, we have moved on quite easily. I now feel like I can talk to my sister and I know that our fall-out was because there is a lot of sentiment on both sides – we had always been close, but sometimes we’ve rubbed each other up the wrong way.
Much of the difficulty between us is also reliant on our different reactions over time to a situation that has caused us both a lot of stress, and involves another person I need to learn to forgive.
My family had a rift about 6 years ago and I have been mediator for much of that time, until it seems like everyone else has found their slot in the new ‘family structure’ and I feel that now my role has been fulfilled, I have a lot of anger that is still unexpressed and that I don’t wish to bring out after a bit of peace has been established. When it comes to anger, I’m always too afraid to express it, and then it’s too late to do anything about it, so it just gets internalised.
My depression is related to much of this, and this is why forgiveness is so important for me to learn, because it means I can acknowledge my past, accept there’s nothing I can do about it now, and move on to building a more positive future.
Although it has worked with my sister, and I’m very pleased that it has, I just don’t see that it will be that simple with the other two people I need to forgive: one of them being myself. 4 years ago