Friday, January 13, 2012

Forgive, Maybe...But Don't Ever Forget


I'm not one to make New Year's resolutions, but I started 2012 not wanting a repeat of 2011. Last year, I lost someone who was an important part of my life for over twenty years: my grey-cheeked parakeet, Sam, who was like my second child. I've experienced loss many times in my life, and it never gets easier.

Years ago, I had two friends, both authors, who were so close the words "joined at the hip" usually followed their names in conversation. When they set up meetings with agents at a writers conference, those of us closest to them were sure they'd end up with the same agent. They didn't--but they did decide to collaborate on a novel.

Long story short, the novel was never finished. There was a dispute between the two, and they never spoke to each other again. A few years later, one of them passed away. I haven't seen the other since. I often wonder if she has any regrets. I would.



My pastor says we have to forgive but we don't have to forget. I've had a lot of trouble with both. In the past year, I've severed many ties. I've terminated friendships for a variety of reasons and had conflicts with people I barely knew and a few I wish I'd never met. And I've found myself dwelling on that anger. That's a waste of time and energy.

It's not easy (though not impossible) to teach an old dog new tricks. This old dog is trying to learn. As Thomas Wolfe wrote, "You can't go home again." Even forgiving someone doesn't mean we can restore the relationship. Relationships that have been broken can't always be repaired.



No matter how much I try to forgive, in some cases it's just not going to happen. I wish I could say I'm a good Christian who gets everything right, but I'm not. I'm a work in progress. I have a long way to go. And it's really hard to forgive someone who doesn't think they've done anything wrong to be forgiven for.

Pastor John also said in one sermon that we should respond to the mistreatment of another as if it were being done to us. That comes easy to me. I can't be a friend to someone who mistreats people or animals. Nor can I be silent about it.  I recently found myself in this position. Someone I thought was a friend had been very close to someone else who is dear to me. Abruptly, everything changed. The so-called friend found herself another friend and discarded my surrogate family member. Talk about a Jekyll and Hyde transformation! She became a vile, hateful creature, and I found myself wondering how I could ever have called her a friend.



Can I let go of the anger I feel toward this person? I'm trying, but it's not easy. No wonder her husband prefers internet porn to her. It's got to be a whole lot warmer than cuddling up with that viper.... 



33 comments:

  1. It's not always easy, and maybe not always possible, to forgive. Part of being human is learning about anger and love and all the stuff that life hands you.

    Sounds to me like you are paying attention and truly learning. Insightful post, Norma.

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    1. Thank you, Lynn. Some people think you can just ignore everything. I can't. I can overlook a lot, but...how many people felt bad when Osama bin Laden was killed? Not many. He was a monster and the world is better off without him.

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  2. I've never gotten over the way my grade 1 and grade 6 teachers treated me. I've never forgiven them. That was almost 40 years ago....probably not a good thing to hold onto, but sometimes it's hard...

    But, I have forgotten them, to an extent. If I ever saw them on the street, I'd kick their asses. But, I've learned to live with my self-esteem issues, and now I tend to let things go if I don't want them anymore. I'm really good at ignoring...

    Great post.

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    1. I was pretty mousy as a kid. Therapy taught me that keeping things inside is unhealthy.

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  3. I understand how hard it is to forgive. I also think it only comes easy to you when you are ready to let go of the things that have hurt you. However, no one should make you feel unjustified in your feelings. They are your own and they are from pain that others may never realize. Forgiveness is daunting. It is hard to accept from others, and it is even harder to give and I truly think it only works when you are ready to go through that process. My biggest forgiveness for another did not come until he had passed away. But that is a long story.

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    1. Thanks for not telling me I have to make nice!

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  4. I know full well how hard it can be to forgive... it's something I'm still working through these days, and I've kind of been in this place where forgiveness assumes the people who have hurt you are making amends, and it's harder to do when you know they never will. I've come to feel that it's more a case of making peace with it. Like you say, dwelling on anger is a waste of time and energy.

    Very well said, Norma! Bravo!

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    1. I know that you understand this better than most. And you've fought this particular battle with me. Thank you for always being there.

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  5. And this particular person is not worth the gunpowder it would take to blow her away, so....

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  6. Me too...I know how hard it is whenever the other person isn't sorry and you cannot make ammends. But I think forgiving and forgetting(totally letting go of anger towards the person) must go hand in hand. I never imagined it was possible to completely forgive certain people, but I did and what a difference it made. I still have a few people on my list, though. That's what therapy is for I guess!

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    1. How do you forgive someone who isn't sorry? I think in some cases you have to just totally distance yourself from the other person and have no contact at all.

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  7. I forgive AND forget, because I don't want to waste my present life on the past. I don't forgive for other people, to help them, or to accept them (and definitely not to let them hurt me again), I forgive for myself. If someone hurt me once, why should I double the hurt?

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  8. That's a healthy attitude. I could resume relationships with some people but not with others, even when I put it behind me. It depends upon what happened to cause the rift.

    It's easier for me to forgive someone who's hurt me than it is for me to forgive someone who's hurt someone I love.

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  9. One thing I know. If we are going to let people into our lives, we are going to need to learn to forgive. I try to be a good person, be kind, etc, and I wonder how many people have had to forgive me for a careless word, thoughtless deed, or just a dumb act.

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  10. Carole, you ARE a kind person. We all make mistakes, and we all have to learn to forgive. I'm talking about someone who is cruel and deliberately malicious.

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    1. And in truth, there are those people. They need to go in a wood chipper.

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  11. I think in this case maybe it's better to forget and maybe someday after you've forgotten everything about this person you can say, "Forgive? Yeah, sure but I'm not sure I know who you're talking about."

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    1. Now that's good advice. I'll have to do that. Actually, someone who screwed me over back in 1999 recently apologized to me. He had to remind me of the details of what happened because I had forgotten. Then we shook hands. Felt pretty good actually.

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  12. Eve can be so wise...she is right.

    If there weren't so many assholes in the world. Ooops--gotta watch that. Carole's my pastor's wife.

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    1. Thanks Norma & Mike. I'm sure Carole has seen her fair share....

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  13. When I emigrated to Cyprus I found out who were my true friends. I gave two years of my life emailing, writing and contacting others, only to be ignored. Now I have moved on. Even some family did not receive a Christmas card this year. After six years of hoping for one in the post, I decided that a handmade card from me would be something I would not send them. I sold them for the local hospice instead. It takes courage to forgive, forget and walk away. Good luck with moving forward.

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    1. Glynis--welcome! Good to see you here! Thanks for sharing your own story.

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  14. Norma,

    Indeed this is a difficult issue. I have learned through the years to be more forgiving, and usually I am, but forgetting is harder. And then it all depends on what the person did to us. And sometimes we still have to be the bigger person if we look and find the person is just somehow intellectually unaware of their wrong; maybe our capabilities is more than theirs which means we should just let it slide (maybe). Then again, I can say there has only been one case all my life that I can't really forget though I forgiven the person (and still when I think of them I boil), and only in this case I suppose all other people would say I'm justified, but then I have to look at not what other people say but what I really believe and what God says. That is all we can do. But staying upset really does end up harming ourselves because it zaps our energy. Wouldn't it be nice if we could go throughout life without problems and find all peace and love? What a dream! Take care Norma!

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    1. I wish we could, Lena, but we unfortunately live in a world in which not everyone is lovable.

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  15. Norma, I hope we can meet someday.
    You are seriously such an interesting person and I admire that what you feel you say no matter what the norm says.
    I like the fact you realize what path you want to take and are working towards it.
    I have no qualms that you will succeed.

    When I was in counseling after my x walked out, I asked her do I have to forgive him for what he did to me and the children... she said no. If it feels false it does not do you any good. Because forgiveness is for you not him. I will never forgive him but I try not to dwell on it as I moved forward because I refuse to give him anymore power over me and my life and for me that is the whole point.
    He has reaped his reward though as our three children refuse to have any contact with him.
    You get what you give.

    cheers, parsnip

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  16. Wow! Good post, Norma. This year was special for me, too. Salon issues. Poeple are mean. I sooo want to see the manager of the salon who did my dirty so I can put her in her place. I need closure before I can move on. I'm also going through some ka-ka with my husband's x-wife and their daughter. This woman has hurt me more than I can say and it's not getting better but worse...mostly for the child.

    In my experience, forgiveness comes in time. Usually, I come to the conclusion that negative energy just depletes me so letting go is much better. Besides, I've got better things to do with my time than hold onto what soemone did to me. But...yeah...read my paragraph above. It sure can be hard though.

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    1. I wanted to let go, Shelly...but then it was all brought to the surface again. William's been a great calming influence, but this situation even angered him!

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  17. When someone tried to hurt me through the people I love (and I still can't figure out what I did to make her hate me) I wasn't very nice about how I cut ties with her. I had to forgive her before I could forgive myself and move on. The last thing I want to do is let her live in my head rent-free.

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    1. Karla--you have a way with words that can even make the ugliest situation funny! Thank you!

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  18. I'm a champion grudge-holder, and I reckon it does me a lot of harm. I'm trying to change! Here's to forgiveness...

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    1. Talli...wouldn't it be nice if we could exile all the jerks and cretins to another planet?

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  19. Oh boy, Norma. That's a tough one. I love that quote you have up there... so so true. And since I was a kid I've always remembered that line from Karate Kid 2 when Miyagi tells Daniel-son that a person with no forgiveness in their heart lives a worse punishment than death.
    It's just always stuck with me. It's part of my healing process and personal health to be able to let go of negative feelings, grudges, etc. I've found giving those feelings to God helps relieve me of carrying the weight on my own shoulders.
    And man, those jerks we come across in life, they'll get the dose of karma due them. I've seen it happen and smiled to myself.... cuz you know, in the end they will suffer for the wrong they've done.

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