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I consider myself a moderately intelligent woman, yet in concept and in practice I don't understand forgiveness.

It seems like a make-believe thing. Like if you believe in Santa, he will bring you presents. If you believe in the Flying Spaghetti Monster, he will touch you with his noodly appendage. Like if you wish upon a flying star.....

I can't wrap my brain around the concept so I can't practice it in life.

I'm suddenly wondering if it is even a real thing, or just another supernatural belief we made up years ago and cling to out of a misguided longing to be divine.

I'm embarrassed to admit that I did what any other confused novice would do in this situation: I Googled.

I still don't understand what it means.

Forgiveness:
Forgiveness is the intentional and voluntary process by which a victim undergoes a change in feelings and attitude regarding an offense, lets go of negative emotions such as revenge, with an increased ability to wish the offender well.
I think of the wrongs that have been done to me and I didn't intentionally or voluntarily let them go, per se. I just... kept moving on. Charging through life. I don't wish ill on anyone, but I certainly don't wish some of these people well. Most of them have just stopped existing. Ghosts of a previous life. Faceless beings that left me with a dark memory but otherwise never existed as I exist.

I'm still here. I'm strong. I get a little bit wiser every year.

I'm thankful for the people who have been here for me. The people who haven't, well, I don't know them and they don't mean anything to me. They were merely props. Background noise in a movie I refused to let anyone except me direct.

One day I woke up feeling like I was choking on my anger because I was. Everything was suffocating me. From small slights in school to parental neglect, sexual and emotional abuse, judgement, poverty, everything.

Everything made me angry and everything still hurt.

So I let it go.

I didn't want to be a slave to anger any more than I wanted to be a slave to poverty.

So I took a deep breath and moved on.

This may sound like forgiveness to some, and perhaps it is.

But I don't think that it is.

I am being asked for forgiveness from someone I love very much, and I refuse to grant it because I don't know what it is.

It isn't letting go of anger, because that is not enough.

It isn't acceptance of the things I cannot change, because that is not enough.

It isn't wishing someone well because that is not enough.

It isn't saying that I love you, but I won't allow your actions to change my life, because that is not enough.

I don't say the above passive-aggressively; I genuinely believe that none of it is enough.

I know that it's not because I know I have no forgiveness in my heart.

And that's the only reason I know that I don't know what forgiveness is.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Forgiveness is nothing but a sop to the weak, (7+ / 0-)

    encouraging them to continue to take any abuse that their "betters" decide to mete out.

    It's about religions fooling the foolish into submitting to authority. It's about submitting your being, your self-worth, to their control.

    Screw forgiveness, it sounds like you have a very good grasp on reality, leave the fawning to the obsequious, and get on with what you need.

    "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities." - Voltaire

    by Greyhound on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 05:53:47 PM PST

    •  If you've never needed forgiveness (22+ / 0-)

      you are a much better person than I am.

      Iron sharpens Iron. Normal is a dryer setting. STOP illegal immigration NOW! -- Make it LEGAL. If Corporations are People--Let's draft them.

      by benamery21 on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 05:58:56 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  No I haven't, ever. I've certainly screwed up more (8+ / 0-)

        times than I would like to admit, but when I have, I offered my apologies, did whatever I could to alleviate the harm I caused, and moved on with another lesson learned and a mistake to take care not repeat.

        This idea of forgiveness is, IMO, the root of the evil that pervades our world today because it has been changed from a beautiful gift from the offended to the offender, into a get-out-of-jail card for the very worst people to carry on committing whatever acts of cruelty and indifference they wish without ever fearing any consequences.

        "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities." - Voltaire

        by Greyhound on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 06:11:20 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Uh. Dude. (22+ / 0-)

          The part where the other person accepts your apology: That's forgiveness. If they do not accept your apology -- if they tell you to shove it, and they henceforth endeavor to exact retribution, or less viciously, if they simply "shun" you in one fashion or another, then your apology might make you feel better, but it doesn't repair the damage. Believe me, you've needed forgiveness more times than you can count. That's the nature of humanity.

          I think the majority of humans, regardless of the culture in which they were raised, are capable of forgiveness, when the transgressor repents. A smaller fraction are capable of forgiveness as expressed by Christ on the cross: "Forgive them, for they know not what they do."

          The ability to forgive the unrepentant transgressor, well that is rare indeed. It is not the same as telling oneself, "I'm not going to let my anger dictate my state of mind, because doing so is self-destructive". It is not even the same as telling oneself, "I'm putting it behind me because to do so will cause new harm to others who are in the picture."

          I'm not sure I've ever met anyone who could reliably do that, though I think I've read about a few who at least claimed to be able to do it. Like the diarist, I can't quite fathom it, but I'm not going to dismiss it is as weakness.

          To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

          by UntimelyRippd on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 06:36:24 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Hate to interrupt your sermon, but perhaps you (0+ / 0-)

            should read what I was replying to.

            I have never needed forgiveness. It is a simple, declarative, responsive statement.

            "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities." - Voltaire

            by Greyhound on Sat Dec 28, 2013 at 02:10:13 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  LOL (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              The Marti, Timaeus
              I have never needed forgiveness. It is a simple, declarative, responsive statement.
              Grow up.

              Dammit Jim, I'm a lawyer, not a grammarian. So sue me.

              by Pi Li on Sat Dec 28, 2013 at 06:57:13 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  LOL indeed. Perhaps you should consider the advice (0+ / 0-)

                you are so anxious to throw around?

                Just what is is about my not requiring forgiveness that you find so disturbing that you were compelled to jump in here?

                Last I looked, I'm the one in this conversation that doesn't believe in an invisible fairy-demon in the sky.

                "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities." - Voltaire

                by Greyhound on Sat Dec 28, 2013 at 09:41:00 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

            •  If everyone you know whom you had ever (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              BoiseBlue

              wronged, however minimally, had punished you rather than forgiven you, you would realize what an inane remark this is:

              I have never needed forgiveness
              Your assertion is founded on a semantical sleight-of-hand: You've never "needed" it, because it has always been granted to you before you ever knew what it would have been like to do without it. You don't seem to understand what forgiveness is, but if every time you had thoughtlessly, or gratuitously, or deliberately, or carelessly, or just incompetently done something that harmed another, and you had been made to pay for that with anything more than an apology, you would have a much clearer sense of the concept. We all live in a continuous flood of transgression and forgiveness.

              To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

              by UntimelyRippd on Sat Dec 28, 2013 at 11:54:30 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

        •  Isn't apologizing and wanting acceptance (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          duhban

          getting a "get out of jail card" as well?

          If I comply with non-compliance am I complying?

          by thestructureguy on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 07:04:01 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  It's perfectly normal and healthy (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Killer of Sacred Cows, Chi, The Marti

            to want to restore and maintain human relationship, and it's just as healthy for narcissists and sociopaths (even if they are not capable of healthy relationship) as for people more psychologically whole.

            If those around you actually require you to make proportionate amends for your transgressions, you aren't "getting out of jail"; you're serving your time then seeing if you can stay clean.

            Fight them to the end, until the children of the poor eat better than the dogs of the rich.

            by raincrow on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 08:09:29 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  I don't see how. People screw up, the difference (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Chi

            lies in intent as far as I'm concerned. If I'm the one that screwed up I'll do what I can because I screwed up, not to gain forgiveness. If someone has screwed me up, what matters is my reaction to it and my forgiveness is irrelevant.

            "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities." - Voltaire

            by Greyhound on Sat Dec 28, 2013 at 02:18:13 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  But your reaction to it may fall under (0+ / 0-)

              what is described as forgiveness.

              •  Sure. When I'm on the receiving end, I will (0+ / 0-)

                typically have one of two reactions:
                1. You screwed up, don't do that to me again. C'est la vie and on we go. I guess this could be called forgiveness.

                2. You screwed me on purpose, we're done, period. You will likely never enter my thoughts again.

                I simply will not have the #2 people in my life, and I'm sure I will live much longer for that.

                "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities." - Voltaire

                by Greyhound on Sat Dec 28, 2013 at 09:49:50 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

        •  I may be projecting (11+ / 0-)

          but I think you may have had a distorted definition of 'forgiveness' imposed on you in the past.

          I can understand that.  My folks took 'turning the other cheek' pretty literally.

          As you say below, I think terminology is much of the problem.  We are using freighted terminology.

          Iron sharpens Iron. Normal is a dryer setting. STOP illegal immigration NOW! -- Make it LEGAL. If Corporations are People--Let's draft them.

          by benamery21 on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 07:06:51 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  That's what happens when words lose their meaning. (0+ / 0-)

            I think you're getting what I was talking about. Although I've rarely been on the receiving end of that imposition, I've seen it and the further pain it brings too many times to just let it go.

            "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities." - Voltaire

            by Greyhound on Sat Dec 28, 2013 at 02:50:12 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  Ayn Rand would be proud of you (0+ / 0-)

          Dammit Jim, I'm a lawyer, not a grammarian. So sue me.

          by Pi Li on Sat Dec 28, 2013 at 07:00:22 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Do you honestly think that trying to paint (0+ / 0-)

            me as an objectivist is an argument?

            1. If the facts are against you, argue the law.
            2. If the law is against you, argue the facts.
            3. If the facts and the law are against you, call the other lawyer names.

            I'm happy you're not one of my attorneys.

            "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities." - Voltaire

            by Greyhound on Sat Dec 28, 2013 at 09:55:26 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Who was painting you as an objectivist? (0+ / 0-)

              And where was I making an argument?  I was making an...observation.

              PS.  You've got Voltaire wrong also (sigh).

              Sincerely,

              The Cheetah

              Dammit Jim, I'm a lawyer, not a grammarian. So sue me.

              by Pi Li on Sat Dec 28, 2013 at 10:41:43 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

    •  Well, your comment is angrier than what I'm (4+ / 0-)

      comfortable with, but I get your point :-)

      It does seem more like a religious ritual than anything else.

      P.S. I am not a crackpot.

      by BoiseBlue on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 06:00:28 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  It's not religious (21+ / 0-)

        It is a conscious effort though.

        Some people think forgiveness is letting people off the hook. It's not. They're already off the hook, while you carry around their baggage as anger. Forgiveness is letting yourself off the hook. It's really a gift to yourself.

        Some harms are so great that forgiveness may not be possible, in that case letting go is a perfectly good option.

        Anger hurts only the angry, the subjects of the anger don't care one way or the other.

        You sound like you're handling it all well.

        •  you said what i was going to say. (10+ / 0-)

          holding anger and hurt only eat at the one who is feeling those emotions while the target of that anger and the one who did the hurting have NO idea of those emotions.

          forgiveness IS "letting go" and refusing to carry that baggage within yourself.

          it doesn't mean accepting that hurtful or damaging behavior - it means moving forward and letting the universe correct the problem.

          some people refer to it as "karma" - my feeling is that life will balance out - and i don't have to be the one wielding the hammer.

          my horses were stolen many years ago.  one was missing 2 1/2 years, the other - 4 yrs 8 months, 29 days and 3 1/2 hrs - but who was counting.

          i realized when that happened that i could spend all my time twisted in hate and anger OR i could go find my horses.  i chose the latter and i brought them both back home.

          there is no room within us for both sets or types of emotions.  letting go of the harmful emotions allows US to heal.  what happened to kathy shaw?  i could care less.  what ever life brings her is of her own doing - and it has nothing to do with me.

          i chose love instead of hate and have never looked back.  it was the right decision.

          forgiving the person doesn't mean forgiving the deed OR allowing misdeeds to continue.  walking away, letting go and moving forward - OR as my sani once said "get OVER it" and then he dropped his muzzle and continued to graze...

          EdriesShop Is it kind? is it true? is it necessary?

          by edrie on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 09:20:57 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Bingo! (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Via Chicago

          Truer words...

      •  I get that a lot. (6+ / 0-)

        LOL. Your wonderful diary just hit a particular spot for me, namely how fucked up our society is because of how badly religion is misused.

        I see a person that has been dealt more pain and loss than is deserved, and then the rest of us gang up on her and insist that she "forgive" just so that we can feel better. Well, it just chaps my ass.

        "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities." - Voltaire

        by Greyhound on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 06:16:37 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Because you can't forgive, and you think it's (3+ / 0-)

          for suckers, you'll catalog all your grudges and grievances and you'll be grinding on them constantly when you're 80.

          I hope the people around you forgive you for that.

          You can't make this stuff up.

          by David54 on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 07:04:00 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  i always ask people who big is the baggage (9+ / 0-)

            they carry?  some people carry that baggage in a handbasket, others balance a steamer trunk on their shoulders.

            forgiveness lightens our own load - it is about how WE interact with others.  letting go and moving forward - that is what forgiveness is.

            forgiveness isn't enabling others - it IS enabling ourselves to live free of harmful and hurtful emotions held within us.

            your comment is very spot on.

            EdriesShop Is it kind? is it true? is it necessary?

            by edrie on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 09:30:40 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  The version of me you've created in your head (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            claude

            is pretty depressing. I'd look into that if I were you.

            Thankfully it has absolutely no relation to the me that actually lives on earth.

            Since I don't concern myself with make-believe nonsense and things over which I have no influence, I am able to thoroughly enjoy my life and the good people that come into it without wasting any time at all worrying about whether or not someone, somewhere doesn't think I'm forgiving enough.

            "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities." - Voltaire

            by Greyhound on Sat Dec 28, 2013 at 02:26:08 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I have a perception of you based on what (0+ / 0-)

              you've written. You may be able to take any non-flattering input and dismiss it as make-believe nonsense, in which case I don't know whether to offer kudos or to feel sorry for you.
              I don't really know how compassionate or not you are, I'm just tossing something out for you to consider based on my own experience.
              I tend to appreciate the concept of "interbeing" as explained by Thich Nhat Hanh. Interconnectedness.

              On a sociological level, which do you think came first?
              Society, or the "individual"?

              There's a view that society arose as we evolved and developed a language of behavior, which eventually developed into spoken language and "thought" which employs concepts and word-pictures.

              From that perspective, everything  that is "human", identity, that is "I", me, you, them, interpersonal, is a function of power relations in the society. Human relations are messy, and some people behave and communicate in ways that leave a mark, a wound, a scar, etc. If you can get through live not being marked or leaving a mark,  more power to you.

              You can't make this stuff up.

              by David54 on Sat Dec 28, 2013 at 05:23:37 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  You have a perception based on what I've written (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                claude

                and run through one of the thickest filters I've seen here.

                It isn't the attempted insult I dismiss, it's the fantasy in your head and the societal delusions that put it there that I dismiss.

                And to that end...
                .
                .
                .
                .
                .
                .
                .
                .
                .
                .
                .
                .
                .
                p/s I think you really should check into Voltaire...

                "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities." - Voltaire

                by Greyhound on Sat Dec 28, 2013 at 10:03:09 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

            •  people get threatened when you refuse (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              BoiseBlue

              to share the paradigm.

              We are all sinners,  thus you are wrong to claim you haven't sinned,  or whateverthefuckyoouihadtohavenotdone  to claim to not need forgiveness.

              How dare you presume to judge yourself?  Well, who better? Me, who has never seen you before?  David54, who hasn't either but claims he "has a perception of" you by your words?

              Anyone who hasn't walked in your moccasins?

              What I find fascinating is not that someone (you) stands up and says  they don't need to be forgiven; it is that some people seemed compelled to give you a hard time for saying  it.

              don't always believe what you think

              by claude on Sat Dec 28, 2013 at 06:06:48 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

        •  You don't understand (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Chi

          Christianity, and please quit knocking it [or any religion] because it promotes forgiveness.

          One of the reasons it promotes forgiveness is because of our state of sin that requires forgiveness from the supreme being in order to have everlasting life.

          If we cannot forgive others for their sins, how can we expect to be forgiven for our sins?  If we cannot be merciful, how can we expect mercy?

          It isn't just some trite expression that lets people off the hook.  It lets you off the hook, so to speak.

          Although, I am sorry if your friend was ganged up on - that is obviously not going to help someone reach a state of forgiveness.

          The banks have a stranglehold on the political process. Mike Whitney

          by dfarrah on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 08:18:38 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  How? (0+ / 0-)

            Undeserved kindness.  I understand the affront, but please let it go.  As you will likely understand better than most, the noisiest proponents of religion are often its worst testimony.

            Iron sharpens Iron. Normal is a dryer setting. STOP illegal immigration NOW! -- Make it LEGAL. If Corporations are People--Let's draft them.

            by benamery21 on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 08:37:08 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  The secret is to realize that there is no hook. (0+ / 0-)

            "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities." - Voltaire

            by Greyhound on Sat Dec 28, 2013 at 02:31:18 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  There is no secret. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              BoiseBlue

              If one believes certain Christian notions, such as everlasting life, one might comprehend why the notions of forgiveness and mercy exist and why one strives to reach these ideals.

              If one doesn't hold these types of beliefs, then the notion  of forgiveness may not resonate.  

              But nonbelievers and other religious practitioners do seem to realize that forgiveness releases themselves from anger.

              The banks have a stranglehold on the political process. Mike Whitney

              by dfarrah on Sat Dec 28, 2013 at 09:43:05 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  You are free to believe any fantastic nonsense (0+ / 0-)

                you like, personally I think FSM (May His Noodly Appendage Touch you. RA-MEN) is a good choice.

                He doesn't ever require you to kill anyone for any reason. Like all deities, He is easily bored and His only, or at least His favorite solution, also like other deities, is to fuck with people for no reason we can conceive. But in the final analysis, even here His meddling is innocuous when compared to the other, lessor Gods.

                For thine is the Meatball, the Noodle, and the Sauce, forever and ever. RA-MEN.

                "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities." - Voltaire

                by Greyhound on Sat Dec 28, 2013 at 10:40:23 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Thanks for allowing me (0+ / 0-)

                  such freedom.

                  You knock the notion of a supreme being while criticizing it for supposedly f'ng with people.  

                  Does it exist or not?

                  Sorry, I believe people are the cause of all sorrow on this earth.  We aren't doing what we are supposed to do.

                  The banks have a stranglehold on the political process. Mike Whitney

                  by dfarrah on Sat Dec 28, 2013 at 10:55:12 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

          •  "our state of original sin" ?? WTF (0+ / 0-)

            dfarrah, kindly speak for yourself, and don't presume to judge me or others.  

            Feel utterly free to see yourself as guilty from birth if it makes you feel better.

            don't always believe what you think

            by claude on Sat Dec 28, 2013 at 06:17:44 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  Ego te absolvo (7+ / 0-)

        Well, yes, it's a religious ritual in the Catholic Church, where members confess sins to a priest who then prescribes a penance and absolves the member.  My father, who was raised Catholic, says confession is the Catholic answer to psychotherapy and helps people achieve peace within themselves.

        Forgiveness is also a key line in the Lord's Prayer: "Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us".  The idea is that we all hurt others -- intentionally or otherwise -- but tell you what: if you forgive me for what I've done to you, I'll forgive you for what you've done to me, and then we can both move on with life with a clean slate.  There's nothing you can do to undo what you have done, but you can learn from it and try to do better in the future.  Forgiveness unloads the baggage that holds you back from doing so.

        I don't belong to any Organized Religion -- I believe each of us has to work it out for himself or herself.  IMO, there are useful tools in many religions.

        [I like your .sig!]

        Better to hide your tax returns and be thought a crook than to release them and remove all doubt. [Adapted from Abraham Lincoln]

        by Caelian on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 06:18:24 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Anglican/Episcopal tradition has confession also (3+ / 0-)

          Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D.
          Drop by The Grieving Room on Monday nights for support in dealing with grief.

          by TrueBlueMajority on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 09:15:05 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Having been raised Roman Catholic, (3+ / 0-)

            I often wish that I could still go, confess the things I felt guilty about, and be given a penance to perform. It helped a lot more than just talking to a therapist about it.

            "Compassion is not weakness, and concern for the unfortunate is not socialism." - Hubert Humphrey

            by Killer of Sacred Cows on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 09:59:45 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  the Episcopal Church welcomes you (3+ / 0-)

              Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D.
              Drop by The Grieving Room on Monday nights for support in dealing with grief.

              by TrueBlueMajority on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 10:34:36 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  jumping in here.... (3+ / 0-)

              with a suggestion of what works for me:  create your own amends.  plant a tree, draw a picture.  any action performed with intention and mindfullness around whatever it is you want to let go.

              i have to do more than just think about something or talk about something because my monkey mind will play and play and play...  so i chose an action that will take some time and discharge the energy.  

              "From single strands of light we build our webs." ~kj

              by kj in missouri on Sat Dec 28, 2013 at 09:01:52 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  The penance I give myself (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                kj in missouri, BoiseBlue

                never seems to be "enough" to counteract the shame I feel.

                "Compassion is not weakness, and concern for the unfortunate is not socialism." - Hubert Humphrey

                by Killer of Sacred Cows on Sat Dec 28, 2013 at 09:47:52 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  this entire subject has really hit home, today. (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  BoiseBlue, Killer of Sacred Cows

                  i do ascribe to talking the situation over with another person, if only because i know i need another perspective other than my own mind.  

                  usually, we human beings tend not to rationalize or justify bad behavior by another person... but we also don't want that other random human being to needlessless suffer for behavior they would change if given a chance to go back in the past.   i know i need that perspective because whatever it is i'm not forgiving myself for is magnified by, as you said above, shame.

                  ultimately, i have to live in my own head and i really hate feeling lousy about myself for any long stretch of time!   so, i do the whole amends thing for myself as much as the person i've harmed.  selfish, but true.   for me, as long as i'm taking an action, something real and tangible, i know i'm not just thinking my way out of feeling better, but acting my way toward feeling better.   and the better i feel, the kinder i am to others.

                  the Taoists talk about, "leaving no trace."  well, i'm too human to not leave a trace.   i just hope too many people behind me aren't saying, "what a $%^& she is."   i know some will say that, because i can be that person.  but i can also be kind and compassionate.  and that's the person, my compassionate self, that i do the action amends for.  because i want her to become stronger and more visible.

                  "From single strands of light we build our webs." ~kj

                  by kj in missouri on Sat Dec 28, 2013 at 10:03:56 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

      •  ill try ... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Killer of Sacred Cows, BoiseBlue, Chi

        I don't think it is something you come to understand.

        Not first.

        It is something you feel, then you understand.

        People use want and need and many words every day without actually feeling those things - but usually those are based on an experience. Something one has felt.

        `
        You can't study or think or reason your way to forgiveness.

        It's not something you will experience very often, I think it takes special circumstances.  And I don't think it is always right, whether it is asked for or not.

        Faking it or pretending are also bad ideas.

        It will rise in you, you will feel it ... or not.

        p.s. you do not sound at all like a crackpot.  :-)

      •  Jeebus can forgive all he wants to. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kj in missouri, BoiseBlue

        You, BB, are under no such obligation.

        If  forgiveness is not freely given without being asked for it,  it isnt real.

        Say true to yourself.

        don't always believe what you think

        by claude on Sat Dec 28, 2013 at 05:51:50 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Not really. Forgiveness pretty much is simply (22+ / 0-)
      lets go of negative emotions such as revenge
      , but I'll toss out the 'wish the offender well' part.  It certainly has nothing to do with letting the problem repeat, although that is what alot of manipulative people make it out to be.

      If a friend dings your car up, you can forgive him by still being his friend but also not let him drive your car again (because he is a crappy driver).

      If you are in a relationship and someone cheats on you, forgiveness does not require you continue the relationship if your trust is shattered.

      As far as I'm concerned, forgiveness is simply: the past is the past, my future is mine.

      And we love to wear a badge, a uniform / And we love to fly a flag But I won't...let others live in hell / As we divide against each other And we fight amongst ourselves

      by ban48 on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 06:05:50 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  There are degrees of forgiveness (4+ / 0-)

        Some things are unforgiveable: by which I do not mean that the one transgressed against cannot move on.

        Some things can be forgiven and forgotten.  If my sibling or child or significant other or best friend totals my car, I'm very likely still going to let them drive one of my vehicles again if they need to do so, even if they are a lousy driver, unless they did it intentionally--and maybe even then if they 'make it right.'  

        Iron sharpens Iron. Normal is a dryer setting. STOP illegal immigration NOW! -- Make it LEGAL. If Corporations are People--Let's draft them.

        by benamery21 on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 06:22:40 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  We agree on everything but terminology. (3+ / 0-)

        And as I tried to say in a previous reply, Christianity has twisted the meaning of the word so far that it has been turned from a gift into an obligation, an obligation that only benefits the offender and those of us not involved, but places a burden on the victim.

        "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities." - Voltaire

        by Greyhound on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 06:30:27 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Christians (and others) who don't read carefully.. (6+ / 0-)

          Both the OT and NT are very transactional when it comes to transgression and forgiveness. After transgression must come proportionate contrition and restitution before forgiveness can be granted. There is no shortcut, express or implied. Without this rebalancing there is no justice.

          I generally view self-help books with skepticism, but IMO it is worth casting an eye over "The Five Languages of Apology" by Chapman and Thomas, 2006. It's a quick, meaty book ($3 used) that applies as much to world justice as to intimate relationships. The authors had me when they pointed out that a trespass without apology/restitution creates a sense of injustice, injustice unaddressed creates rage, and rage unaddressed leads to violence.

          The bullshit doctrine of "forced forgiveness" -- forgiveness without contrition/restoration -- has been peddled by people of all stripes, not just Christians. It has been about in New Age, pagan, and what I think of as "ashram lite" circles for decades. My suspicion is that those who advocate it are (1) kind people who profoundly wish to purge themselves of deep-seated unforgiveness/hatred; and (2) people who have a lot to answer for, are incapable of contrition, but want to be given a free pass because it makes their world operate more smoothly. In either case, it's not healthy.

          Where the injury is so great that it cannot be healed by normal forms of apology and restitution, the injured person may have to grieve and process for years, even decades, before the complex transformations of forgiveness (not limited to acceptance, regrowth, perspective, perhaps compassion) work their magic. I was amazed a few years ago to realize that it's happening to me; I'm beginning to be able to think in terms of forgiving my father, who tortured me as a child.

          A person may * never * be ready to accept a transgressor's contrition and grant forgiveness (good ol' Lyle Lovett*). I consider it to my benefit to be curious and mindful of the reasons/unreasons I can't forgive, and to test my old hatreds from time to time, but if I'm not ready to forgive, tough shit, I'm not perfect. To those of us in the Judeo-Christian camp, transgressors who sincerely repent and seek forgiveness and re-integration into relationship may find that humans are fucking DONE with them and God is their only resort. Not such a bad deal overall IMO.

          *
          Who keeps on trusting you
          When you've been cheating
          And spending your nights on the town
          And who keeps on saying that he still wants you
          When you're through running around
          And who keeps on loving you
          When you've been lying
          Saying things ain't what they seem
          God does
          But I don't
          God will
          But I won't
          And that's the difference
          Between God and me

          So who says he'll forgive you
          And says that he'll miss you
          And dream of your sweet memory
          God does
          But I don't
          God will
          But I won't
          And that's the difference
          Between God and me

          Fight them to the end, until the children of the poor eat better than the dogs of the rich.

          by raincrow on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 07:35:49 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  well, yeah. (6+ / 0-)

      Real remorse demonstrates itself in actions, not in pretty words, and then and only then ought there be forgiveness.

      Otherwise, yeah, asking forgiveness is more or less the same thing as demanding the right to be relieved of any guilty feelings for an evil deed -- and permission to commit the evil deed anew.

      Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

      by corvo on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 06:36:13 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  to me to forgive doesn't mean to cave in and (5+ / 0-)

      allowing abuse to continue. To me it would mean to not give in to the anger and pain you suffered from abuse. May be the opposite of forgiveness is revenge. As that,  if you don't have the feeling of revenge or hostility towards the abuser, you can separate from the situation and go on. May to be able to feel the pity and irrelevance of the abuser is what some people would call foregiveness ?

    •  Forgiveness does not mean enabling (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BoiseBlue, DaNang65

      If there are ongoing transgressions they must be stopped.  To do otherwise is to engage in what the Buddhists call "idiot compassion"

      Forgiveness is for when the situation is over and done.  We do it for ourselves, not the other. To instead cultivate anger, hatred, or resentment is like taking poison and hoping our enemy dies.

  •  Sometimes it's a conscious choice (19+ / 0-)

    and sometimes you just realize one day that you're no longer carrying that weight, and, now that you think of it, it feels pretty good.

    If you think you're too small to be effective, you've never been in the dark with a mosquito.

    by marykk on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 05:54:36 PM PST

  •  If can you keep the friend, and your feelings... (6+ / 0-)

    ...together inside of you... Forgiveness might just sneak up on you someday... so, yes, there probably is some degree of faith involved... ;)

    Dudehisattva...

    "Generosity, Ethics, Patience, Effort, Concentration, and Wisdom"

    by Dood Abides on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 05:57:05 PM PST

  •  ego and pride (17+ / 0-)

    I tend to either do like you did and move on or I stop caring about whatever it was that pissed me off and I allow that person back into my existence.

    Of course it's much easier for me to forgive since I have been a pain in so many peoples' asses that I have needed to be forgiven too many times to count.

    and this may sound corny as fuck but have just recently let my pride and ego take a backseat, hell I have put them in the trunk, and it has done wonders for my ability to deal with people as they are.

     

    I sing praises in the church of nonsense, but in my heart I'm still an atheist, demanding sense of all things.

    by jbou on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 06:00:04 PM PST

  •  My 2 cents (14+ / 0-)

    The idea gets pushed in pundit narratives, that forgiveness provides "closure" for crime victims etc.  Maybe for some it does.  Forgiveness is not an obligation.  It's something you can choose to do, but you don't owe them anything.  

    I believe forgiveness comes with amends.  Whether the offender feels sorry is not enough - what are they doing to show that they've actually made a change?  (And no, that shouldn't get reduced to "I'll do something to make up for it, then do the same offense all over again.")  Forgiveness may come with actual change by the offender - or not.  

    I shall die, but that is all that I shall do for Death; I am not on his payroll. - Edna St. Vincent Millay

    by Tara the Antisocial Social Worker on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 06:01:14 PM PST

    •  Exactly (9+ / 0-)

      "Sorry" is supposed to mean "I've learned from this and will use that to avoid ever doing it again."

      I know there are things I haven't forgiven myself for, even though I've learned a lot from them.

      I still don't know what made me do them in the first place, so forgiveness seems to be an empty gesture.

      P.S. I am not a crackpot.

      by BoiseBlue on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 06:06:18 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Remorse and making amends (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        AJayne, BoiseBlue, kj in missouri

        these were the factors that made it possible for me to truly forgive, the one time in my life that I can say I managed to do so, for a wrong that hurt me a great deal. It was not easy and it took a long time, a few years, of daily effort on his part to heal the wounds. Until eventually I was able to look past my own pain and try to see what had been going on with him that made him act that way and make the choices he did. I forgave him for making serious, hurtful mistakes because for one he was truly and deeply sorry, and two because I finally admitted to myself that I had also made serious mistakes in my life that had caused pain to other people. I am not perfect, neither is he. We fuck up. If we are sorry and try to make up for it going forward, and admit we are not above stupid mistakes ourselves, forgiveness becomes possible.

        As for the vast majority of people who have hurt me and were not that sorry and did not work at fixing it - no, not forgiving them and don't think I need to. I don't stay angry but that's not the same as forgiving.

  •  Forgiving vs. Forgetting (26+ / 0-)

    My mother's behavior over the years pretty much matches up with Narcissistic Personality Disorder. This is a person who will not respect any boundaries, on any terms whatsoever. Everything is about her. Everything. I'm also fairly sure she has Borderline Personality Disorder - she's a splitter; you're either All Good or Totally Bad. I've been both the golden child and the scapegoat over my life with her.

    I think the last time I spoke to her was over a year ago, when I drew a boundary. She hasn't responded or contacted me since.

    I have severe hangups about being wrong. I hate it. I have severe hangups about disagreeing with my loved ones. It scares me. And I can trace all of that back to my mom.

    And yet.

    Have I forgiven her for what she did to me? Yes.

    But there is a difference between forgiving and forgetting.

    There is a difference between letting go, and letting yourself be hurt again.

    The Christian religion, and more specifically the Catholic flavor of it (which I was raised in), has created an ideal of forgiveness that many people conflate with the psychological process of forgiveness.

    In the Catholic version, you forgive the other person for hurting you and you let it go and everything is hunky-dory.

    Obviously, this only works until they hurt you again. It can lead to serious abuse, codependency, and other problems that take years of therapy to fix.

    In the psychological version, you decide that what they did to you is not relevant to your life anymore, and you set it down. It doesn't mean they're off the hook. It means you stop holding a grudge about what they did (no matter how justified the grudge is). It doesn't mean that they apologized or made amends. It means you've decided that you don't need them in order to set it down.

    You may, even, decide to have some limited contact with them. But that contact is on your terms or not at all. You learn phrases like "If you say that again, I'm hanging up/leaving and I'll talk to you when you apologize," or "I'm changing the subject now. If you continue this line of conversation, I'm hanging up/leaving and I'll talk to you when you can respect my boundaries." And that's only if you decide - on your terms - to maintain contact.

    Forgiving doesn't mean forgetting. It means the difference between holding a grudge, and maintaining a healthy boundary.

    Holding a grudge is like drinking poison and expecting your enemy to die. Forgiving and moving on is like putting down the poison bottle and taking the antidote.

    "Compassion is not weakness, and concern for the unfortunate is not socialism." - Hubert Humphrey

    by Killer of Sacred Cows on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 06:14:15 PM PST

  •  Great diary. (5+ / 0-)

    I think about it (and have thought about it) in a similar way. I have let things go over the years, and I don't dwell on small stuff, but when someone has seriously wronged me there's really no possibility of voluntarily letting go of negative feelings about the person absent some empirical reason to do so. I wouldn't even know where to begin to attempt that.

    ....no longer in SF.... -9.00, -7.38

    by TFinSF on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 06:32:51 PM PST

  •  I have been confused by this as well. (4+ / 0-)

    I've heard definitions of forgiveness that sound like good ideas, but still don't sound like forgiveness to me.  For example, "Forgiveness is letting go of the hope that the past can be any different."

    Good idea, but I'd call that acceptance, not forgiveness.  

    To me, forgiveness implies letting someone back into your life, or your trust, depending on the seriousness of the offense.  And frankly, that's often a terrible idea, as in the case of those who are abusers.  I consider it completely optional in the case of those who were abusers, and have fully reformed.  Ok, you're in recovery, you've gone to therapy, whatever, that's great.  It doesn't automatically follow that they deserve renewed relationships with the people they hurt.

    Sometimes forgiveness seems to mean excusing terrible actions.  I don't think that is good, either.

    So, yeah, moving on, letting go of anger, accepting the past... all these are good.  What is the ingredient that makes forgiveness?  Too often it seems to involve making nice -- not making a fuss -- not making others uncomfortable.  That's not fair at all.

    © cai Visit 350.org to join the fight against global warming.

    by cai on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 06:41:42 PM PST

    •  Exactly (6+ / 0-)

      It seems so counterintuitive to me. Those who seek forgiveness are often those who don't deserve it, because it seems like a plea to be let back in your life and not a genuine statement of remorse.

      I think I could grasp the concept a lot more if it wasn't something that is granted so much weight. "Yes, I have moved on and wish no ill will against you," doesn't seem to be what people seeking forgiveness actually want.

      It truly baffles me.

      P.S. I am not a crackpot.

      by BoiseBlue on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 06:48:51 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I think it's a lot easier to grasp with things (7+ / 0-)

        that are a) minor, or b) truly accidents.  "I'm sorry I said that thoughtless thing," or, "I'm sorry I broke your mug," or "I'm sorry I stepped on your foot" -- forgiveness is a lot easier to grasp, there.

        Whereas with major harms or betrayals... it seems like maybe what the person seeking forgiveness wants is to be told it's like it never happened.  But that's not a reasonable request to make, is it?  

        Even if the wronged person chooses to move on with the wrongdoer in their life, even as a close friend or partner, the wronged person has the right to an extended period of trust-rebuilding.  And if the wrongdoer just wants them to hurry up and "forgive" them... i.e., shut up about it and fake normal... that isn't fair, either.  

        So, yeah.  Forgiveness should be on the forgiver's terms, and not put them in harm's way.

        © cai Visit 350.org to join the fight against global warming.

        by cai on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 07:17:13 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  I can see where you are coming from (8+ / 0-)

      but your experience of forgiveness isn't mine. I've had some pretty terrible things done to me. I've forgiven those who did that. I haven't told THEM that, because I didn't forgive them to make them feel better. I did it for me. And trusting them and letting them back in my life is about as far from self love as I can imagine.

      I don't know about Chris Martin, but I do know why Saint Peter won't call my name.

      by Bill in MD on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 07:40:09 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Exactly. I think it really is a matter of (4+ / 0-)

        competing definitions, such that intelligent adults can not know either what someone means when they ask for forgiveness, or recommend it.

        © cai Visit 350.org to join the fight against global warming.

        by cai on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 07:46:52 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  That's the key (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kj in missouri

        Forgiveness is something that you do for yourself, not for the other person. You need to get over the notion that doing something for yourself is "selfishness". That's not at all what selfishness is. Selfishness is treating other people as if their only purpose in life is to provide benefit to you (I suspect this confusion is more common in women than men because many women have been socialized to believe that their entire purpose in life is to meet others needs/wants/fantasies. But what do I know; I'm male).

        Unfortunately when smart and educated people get crazy ideas they can come up with plausibly truthy arguments. -- Andrew F Cockburn

        by ebohlman on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 11:34:03 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  bingo! (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        BoiseBlue
        And trusting them and letting them back in my life is about as far from self love as I can imagine.  ~Bill in MD
        dear lord, but that makes sense!   it's what several people have been telling me and damnation if i wasn't listening!

        my spouse keeps reminding me of the scorpian and the frog.  duh.   i now feel like 7 times the fool, but hey.  that's okay!  live and re-learn!

        absolutely perfect diary and comments.  i really, really needed this today.

        "From single strands of light we build our webs." ~kj

        by kj in missouri on Sat Dec 28, 2013 at 10:13:55 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  detach (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        BoiseBlue

        with love if possible, but love is not required for detachment.

        the amends i will do will be to myself for allowing myself to become enmeshed in situations and people i let go of years ago.   some scorpians really don't change.   and it's not my job to change them.   i can stay on the other side of the river.

        "From single strands of light we build our webs." ~kj

        by kj in missouri on Sat Dec 28, 2013 at 10:18:36 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  When you apologize isn't that an expression (0+ / 0-)

    of being sorry for some wrong you committed?  And if they accept your apology aren't they forgiving you?  Seems that whole forgiveness/apology thing gets all mixed up.  I suppose a person could, in their mind separate and rationalize the difference so it's not forgiveness but not sure most people would.

    If I comply with non-compliance am I complying?

    by thestructureguy on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 06:57:42 PM PST

    •  And if you know the apology is not sincere? (4+ / 0-)

      It's one thing to almost slam a door in someone's face, see them there, try to catch the door and say "Oh, I'm sorry! I didn't see you there!"

      It's another to wreak constant havoc on another person's life and apologize with no intent to correct the wrongs that created the mess.

      If an apology is not sincere, can forgiveness be?

      P.S. I am not a crackpot.

      by BoiseBlue on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 07:03:45 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  no (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kj in missouri

      i've heard many an apology that was insincere on its face

      words mean nothing when the hurt was deep.  only actions/amends count for anything

      Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D.
      Drop by The Grieving Room on Monday nights for support in dealing with grief.

      by TrueBlueMajority on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 09:19:03 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  and then there is the sincere but serial apology (2+ / 0-)

        by the flawed individual who is capable of contrition, and has the will and means to make amends, but not the ability to avoid future harm.  Depending on the nature of the transgression, it may well be necessary for the victim to protect themself from harm, even in the face of sincere apology.

        Iron sharpens Iron. Normal is a dryer setting. STOP illegal immigration NOW! -- Make it LEGAL. If Corporations are People--Let's draft them.

        by benamery21 on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 09:37:29 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Now that I think about this in the context of my (7+ / 0-)

    own life, I think that trying to figure out what forgiveness means probably has as much to do with the object of forgiveness as anything else.  Forgiveness is the act of letting go of anger and resentment directed toward the actions of others, because there simply isn't anything positive that can accrue to your personal sense of sanity from nurturing that anger/resentment...

    ...at the same time, letting go of the anger and resentment borne of someone's actions toward me doesn't mean that I give up the right to exclude that person from my life in the face of the sure knowledge that the same actions will happen again.  You don't forgive people; you forgive people for their actions, and if the actions continue you separate yourself from those people.  "Forgiveness" isn't a 'get out of jail free' card for those who have hurt you, but is instead your effort to find peace in yourself to avoid, as it is said, "drinking the rat poison in hopes that the rat will die"...

    "In a nation ruled by swine, all pigs are upward mobile..." - Dr. Hunter S. Thompson

    by Jack K on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 07:09:56 PM PST

  •  A better definition of Forgivness with the (4+ / 0-)

    acknowledgment that minds differ on the wishing well to the offender.

    Defining Forgiveness
    Forgiveness is a process (or the result of a process) that involves a change
    in emotion and attitude regarding an offender. Most scholars view this an
    intentional and voluntary process, driven by a deliberate decision to forgive (6,
    8, 26, 38). This process results in decreased motivation to retaliate or maintain
    estrangement from an offender despite their actions, and requires letting go of
    negative emotions toward the offender. Theorists differ in the extent to which
    they believe forgiveness also implies replacing the negative emotions with
    positive attitudes including compassion and benevolence (8, 17, 23, 25, 26). In
    any event, forgiveness occurs with the victim’s full recognition that he or she
    deserved better treatment, one reason why Mahatma Gandhi contended that
    “the weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is an attribute of the strong” (12, p.
    American Psychological Association

    It's true what Gandhi says.  

    If I comply with non-compliance am I complying?

    by thestructureguy on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 07:13:43 PM PST

    •  But that is precisely why I don't understand it (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      raincrow, kj in missouri

      I have not given forgiveness to someone who has caused untold destruction on dozens of lives, but I wish her no ill will. I wish her the best.

      I hope she picks herself up and dusts herself off and makes the best life she can for herself.

      But I don't forgive her.

      Is it possible to forgive someone who doesn't accept that what they've done is wrong? And is it a normal reaction to wish ill will upon those who've hurt us?

      I've rarely felt that way, and I don't feel that way now.

      I want her to get help, and I want her to be comfortable in her own life.

      But I don't want her in mine, and I don't feel like I need to say "I forgive you" when that is not what is in my heart, when it is just a lie. Why compound hurt and lies with more lies?

      P.S. I am not a crackpot.

      by BoiseBlue on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 07:27:01 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  If this person truly desires forgiveness (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        raincrow, kj in missouri

        you withholding it, while not allowing that to negatively affect your own peace, may well be a powerful incentive for the individual to more closely examine the impact of their actions on others, and what changes, and amends are within their power.

        Iron sharpens Iron. Normal is a dryer setting. STOP illegal immigration NOW! -- Make it LEGAL. If Corporations are People--Let's draft them.

        by benamery21 on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 07:47:17 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  to be clear (2+ / 0-)

          I would strongly discourage emotional investment in the success of such a tactic, despite considering it (the clear denial of forgiveness) a great act of kindness toward the transgressor in some cases.

          Iron sharpens Iron. Normal is a dryer setting. STOP illegal immigration NOW! -- Make it LEGAL. If Corporations are People--Let's draft them.

          by benamery21 on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 09:32:19 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  You don't have to forgive anyone it's voluntary. (4+ / 0-)

        I think Forgiveness is a confusing word because of the whole religious entanglement and it sounds like one lets the wrong doer off the hook.  A lot of baggage when you get caught up in the religious aspect.  I think forgiveness is a big part of the doctrine.  I'm a non-believer and for me forgiveness is much like what the author describes.  Letting go of the negative feelings that can be over powering and consuming. The definition of Forgiveness seems to be wrought with differing opinions.

        If I comply with non-compliance am I complying?

        by thestructureguy on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 07:47:58 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I don't think it CAN be understood (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mimi, dfarrah, kj in missouri

        To me, forgiveness ultimately involves a transformation: a change that comes about by a process I cannot fully command (although I find it repeatable and reliable, within epsilon).

        You're not so much GIVING someone else forgiveness. You're being changed or restored by forgiveness and that gives back to you resources you can choose to use however you wish -- even if you have no desire whatever to reinvest them in the person who hurt you so badly.

        Fight them to the end, until the children of the poor eat better than the dogs of the rich.

        by raincrow on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 07:51:05 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I think sometimes people ask for forgiveness (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kj in missouri

        because they want assurance that what they did was really not that bad.

        But if what she did was that bad, an expression of forgiveness will not be helpful to her eventual growth. (Especially not a false expression of forgiveness.)

        Being unable or unwilling to forgive could indicate that you think she could have (or should have) known better than to take particular actions, make particular decisions. Perhaps you see her as culpable (she was either deliberate or negligent) because of that.

        Your diary and comments so far do not specify if you have explained to her what was so bad about what she did. In the process, you can also explain that, because it is so bad, you are unable to forgive her for it - and perhaps that you would be unable to forgive anyone else who did the same...

        It is possible that she wants you to forgive her so she doesn't have to do the hard work of making amends (and perhaps some needed changes in her life) so that she can forgive herself at some point.

        It sounds as tho you still love her very much. Is it possible that you need to forgive yourself for loving someone who would do what she did?

      •  reading between the lines (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        BoiseBlue

        and that might make this comment worthless... but Bill in MD (above) reminded me of the power of detachment.

        we aren't obligated to accept another person's amends or requests for forgiveness.  that's the point of the request... it's a question, not a demand.   we can say, "No."  

        one of my go-to quotes is from Joseph Campbell, paraphrased, 'We save the world by saving ourselves.'   if i'm going to be any good to anyone, ever!  i've got to be as free of crap (my own, and others) as i possibly can be.   for me, that can be a full-time job!  (smile).   but that also means i don't take on someone else's issue.   and i've been doing that now for several weeks and couldn't figure out, despite help, what the hell was wrong, why i've been feeling so yughh, until this diary.   i took on someone's else's work.   i can't do their work.  i can only do mine.  

        so, since detachment (to me) means creating a space i allowed another person to occupy, i'll go do something today that physically creates a space (clean a drawer, a closet, a file cabinet) that will remind me that i've let this issue (person) go.  for now.   and i'll understand that i might need to revist the issue and take the action again, especially (since) they are family.

        whew.

        "From single strands of light we build our webs." ~kj

        by kj in missouri on Sat Dec 28, 2013 at 10:35:30 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  I don't entirely agree with the APA (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kj in missouri

      for whatever that's worth (and I don't think my psychologist does either).

      Fight them to the end, until the children of the poor eat better than the dogs of the rich.

      by raincrow on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 07:52:44 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  My Father had much to be foregiven for (5+ / 0-)

    both from me and my Mother. At some point, I came to the conclusion that hating him took much effort. Therein I learned to true reason for forgiveness: Hating some one or thing takes a lot of energy and focus. It's much easier to be lazy and just move on*...

    *Of course there's more to it than that, but that's what years of therapy are for. And now, thanks to Obamacare, you can get at least 20 visits a year, even if you're poor.

    "...So the world might be mended"

    by Cofcos on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 07:25:14 PM PST

  •  I never really thought about it like this before (6+ / 0-)

    For me, I guess it's like pr0n. I know it when I see it.

    I think most everything you listed is part of forgiveness. But for me the big part that you are missing is empathy. If someone wrongs me and I learn to understand, from their point of view, why they did it, and I can put myself in their place, to really FEEL what it must be like for them, I can then easily let go of whatever anger/resentment/rage I felt towards them. That's forgiveness to me.

    And I hasten to add that I have forgiven people in the past, but not to make them feel better. I did it for me. Forgiveness helps me to heal and grow. I guess in a sense I see others as extensions of myself, so forgiving others is the same as forgiving myself.

    I really liked your diary.

    I don't know about Chris Martin, but I do know why Saint Peter won't call my name.

    by Bill in MD on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 07:30:38 PM PST

    •  Spot on Bill (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kj in missouri

      Forgiveness is a sham without empathy. In fact, it strikes me that the very need to forgive someone - and the resistance to it - comes out of an absence of empathy. A relationship becomes toxic when the other person is assumed to be something they are not. When the illusion of this person's character - the false narrative that had been projected on them - is shattered, the relationship is traumatized. The person who experiences the trauma becomes angry. In doing so they rarely think that the way out is to change their perception of the person that was in error. It's much more likely to take the viewpoint "don't ever do that again! you must be who I insist that you are." There can be no possible forgiveness in that approach.

      If, however, they are capable of releasing their hold on the rigid concept of the person they had held until that point, the relationship can be transformed. This absolutely requires empathy. Then the question becomes, do I still want to be in relationship to this person who i now know in a more complete way. Sometimes the answer is no, but the obvious recourse of separation is unacceptable. It's easier to dwell in anger and fixation that the other person must change.

      ...hatred being a form of bondage to its object - Alan Watts

      by Max Wyvern on Sat Dec 28, 2013 at 03:48:31 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I think that the idea that we can somehow (5+ / 0-)

    choose to change our emotions is an overused trope today, what with the cult of positive thinking that's so popular now. But for me forgiveness is very important. It's a thing you give, not a change in yourself. You let someone free of some sort of obligation they have to you because of their actions, which probably hurt you in some way.

    Think of the language we use around debt. When someone owes us money and we decide to let them not owe us money any more we forgive the debt. We will never get that money back, and we get nothing from it. We actually lose something. But forgiveness is about other people, not yourself. The idea that you can just decide to feel different about someone is just wrong in my book. What forgiveness means is acting different to someone.

    If knowledge is power and power corrupts, does that mean that knowledge corrupts?

    by AoT on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 07:35:48 PM PST

    •  Are you saying you think you can't change (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      raincrow, AoT, BoiseBlue

      how you feel regarding some wrong done to you?

      I don't know about Chris Martin, but I do know why Saint Peter won't call my name.

      by Bill in MD on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 07:45:21 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  See my sig (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kj in missouri

      and the lengthier comment below. I tried to explain how I see forgiveness as an essential aspect of healing a toxic relationship.

      ...hatred being a form of bondage to its object - Alan Watts

      by Max Wyvern on Sat Dec 28, 2013 at 03:35:06 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I don't think you decide to feel different (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kj in missouri

      You decide to re-think who they are. You can re-brand them. Friend -> scumbag, lover -> asshole, etc, but that doesn't really change the way you feel. You still want them to be who you thought they were. You're attached to the brand that you put on them in the past and now you feel betrayed and angry. The only way out is to try to understand that they were never who you thought they were and you now have an opportunity to do one of two things; get to know who they really are, or get away from them. I think the latter is the easier and far more common approach, and in some cases, the wisest. Sometimes, however, getting to know who they really are can transform the relationship and make it deeper and more meaningful.

      I remember a friendship that went sour over a relatively small thing, but it amounted to essentially my betrayal of the mask that had been placed on me. My friend thought I was incapable of acting in the way I did and felt betrayed by my actions. i became angry because I had never asked to be pigeonholed as a the character he thought I was. We both had to take a step back for a while. In doing so we re-evaluated all the things we liked about each other and missed that connection. Ultimately, neither of us insisted on any sort of retribution or formal forgiveness. We just resumed our acquaintance and came to know each other on a deeper, less superficial level. He is now one of the most important people in my life. I never said "I forgive you" and neither did he, but we know we are forgiven and it feels very good.

      ...hatred being a form of bondage to its object - Alan Watts

      by Max Wyvern on Sat Dec 28, 2013 at 04:04:05 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Excellent diary and comments; top shelf (5+ / 0-)

    Fight them to the end, until the children of the poor eat better than the dogs of the rich.

    by raincrow on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 07:43:12 PM PST

  •  To help you get your thoughts in order (5+ / 0-)

    you might want to separate forgiving someone from being asked for forgiveness. Those are two very different things. The former you do for yourself, the latter for the other.

    I don't know about Chris Martin, but I do know why Saint Peter won't call my name.

    by Bill in MD on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 07:49:00 PM PST

  •  great diary - I don't know it either (4+ / 0-)

    Sometimes I think I forgive when indeed I just put it away into irrelevancy and try to achieve that it doesn't influence me anymore. But I guess that's probably a delusion.

    Though I use the word forgiveness as a counter action to not be drowned in revenge, hostility or hate to others. But probably it's BS from my side.

    Intellectually I can forget and therefore foregive, but I can't accept that the abuse having taken place was not what it was.

  •  I think of it (3+ / 0-)

    As the opposite of vengeance.

    And moving on is certainly one way to do that.

    If somebody asks me to forgive them, I know they're just trying to manipulate me.  A generous person would apologize for all the things they did TO you and they would do so earnestly.  It's more abuse they're dishing out.

    Republicans: Taking the country back ... to the 19th century

    by yet another liberal on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 08:06:24 PM PST

  •  I'm not sure (3+ / 0-)

    forgiveness is something that is attained with a sense of finality. There will be moments that you experience a genuine sense of forgiveness, which you'll recognise because it makes you feel good, and other moments that you feel the pain of it. But, I believe, that if you cultivate those moments of softness and warmth that come with experiencing forgiveness, you might get pretty close to what you are looking for with the other, or for just yourself.

    'A civilization flourishes when people plant trees under whose shade they will never sit' Greek Proverb

    by janis b on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 08:50:54 PM PST

  •  Loved your diary (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jayden, BoiseBlue, kj in missouri

    My first response is to simply recommend it. I can't imagine a bolder and more honest statement. It carries a lot of risk, but it's not running away from anything and it's certainly not posing as something you're not.

    I haven't had the same problem with the concept of forgiveness, but I live with someone who does and it causes a lot of pain for both of us. As much as it causes me, I've come to the conclusion it causes her even more. A long time ago I read a simple statement that has resonated with me all my life. It's a quote from Alan Watts. "Hatred is a form of bondage to its object."

    Hatred is a strong term, loaded with power in itself, so I'm going to substitute something that feels a little softer, but only a little; anger. No one wants to be considered a hater, but we all can relate to righteous anger.

    To me, forgiveness is the best kind of selfish act. It's a letting go of an emotion that binds one to another in a negative way. The primary benefactor of this process is the one who holds the anger. The former recipient of the anger has a new potential to benefit from being released from the bond and what they choose to do with that freedom is up to them, but it's no longer the burden of the angry one. In releasing the anger they have done themselves an enormous favor and can get on with a new phase of life.

    It sounds to me that you have made this step when you spoke of moving on without forgiving. I'm not sure that "forgiveness" and "moving on" are entirely separable concepts. The hardest part is in what happens to the relationship. The anger that arose in it caused a strain that may or may not be repairable. Anger is a way of maintaining the relationship in a toxic way. Forgiveness means liberation, but that carries its own risk; dissolution of the positive bond that may remain. This is where you have to be really bold and realize deep down that the risk of losing someone by releasing the bond of anger is less than you had ever imagined. At that point you have to fall back on another very mushy concept that may need a diary of its own; faith. It's a leap of faith to try to maintain a relationship that is poisoned by anger but without the anger to bind it. If you can take than leap there may be a chance at healing. If you can't summon the courage to take that leap you're better off severing the bond entirely and moving on to a new life.

    Thank you for your diary. It might help me to understand similar issues in my life. Much appreciated.

    The opposite of life is not death, but indifference. -- Jaki Gefjon (A.A.Attanasio)

    by Max Wyvern on Sat Dec 28, 2013 at 03:16:55 AM PST

    •  By the way (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BoiseBlue, kj in missouri

      The memory of that quote was almost right, but I'd very slightly taken it out of context. He was speaking about psychotherapy rather than forgiveness.

      Whenever the therapist stands with society, he will interpret his work as adjusting the individual and coaxing his 'unconscious drives' into social respectability. But such 'official psychotherapy' lacks integrity and becomes the obedient tool of armies, bureaucracies, churches, corporations, and all agencies that require individual brainwashing. On the other hand, the therapist who is really interested in helping the individual is forced into social criticism. This does not mean that he has to engage directly in political revolution; it means that he has to help the individual in liberating himself from various forms of social conditioning, which includes liberation from hating this conditioning — hatred being a form of bondage to its object.
      It's interesting how I extracted just that line and found new context for it in my life. It's such a simple and powerful idea and has the potential to produce great insight. Enough so that it's my new signature.

      ...hatred being a form of bondage to its object - Alan Watts

      by Max Wyvern on Sat Dec 28, 2013 at 03:29:54 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Very well stated. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BoiseBlue, kj in missouri
  •  The alternative to forgiveness is revenge. (0+ / 0-)

    Do you really want to spend your life wishing for a chance to avenge yourself on the people who wronged you? If not, you have to forgive them.
    And keep in mind that people are not inherently evil. People who have wronged you did so because they thought that they were doing the right thing. If you understand that and try to see their motivation, you'll be in a much better position. Maybe you'll gain some clarity re your own actions and your part in the chain of events that caused you grief.
       Long ago, a Quaker peace activists explained it to me. "In your relationship with others, you want to act, not react."

  •  Forgiveness is about the deepest topic. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BoiseBlue

    Here's what helps me best to understand:

    “Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart.”
    ― Corrie ten Boom
  •  fascinating diary, BoiseBlue (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BoiseBlue

    and i'm only half-way through the comments.  

    much, much food for thought and personally, very, very timely. an issue i thought was gone a long time ago has returned and as i'm sorting through the threads of what remained, wondering why they still exist, this diary and conversation is helping put it all in perspective.

    thank you!

    "From single strands of light we build our webs." ~kj

    by kj in missouri on Sat Dec 28, 2013 at 09:26:55 AM PST

  •  "Forgive" is the F-word. (0+ / 0-)

    Too often forgiveness is a club used by others to keep the victims in line - especially women. Usually by fellow members of the religion, far too often by the offender, but too many therapists put their faith in the F-word too.

    And some things simply cannot be forgiven.

    "Yes, your father molested you, but you HAVE to forgive him or you won't find closure."

    "I only hit you because you make me. Now the Bible says 'Forgive seventy times seven,' and you've got 432 more to go, so forgive me for hitting you."

    "Really, you have to forgive him for cheating and take him back. Do you know how it looks, you coming into church with your kids by yourself? And it's only Herpes he gave you, not AIDS, so it's not so bad."

    Any forgiveness, if it comes at all, ought to come from the wronged party. But too often it's demanded by the offender and/or the community.

    Small wonder so many react with violent revulsion at the concept of forgiveness.

    I'm with the girl in the book by Scott O'Dell who loses her family to a mob: When she reads the "turn the other cheek" passage in the Bible, she tears that page out and throws it into the fire.

    Thank God, the Bob Fosse Kid is here! - Colin Mochrie

    by gardnerhill on Sat Dec 28, 2013 at 04:28:28 PM PST

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