"ignore the story. see the soul. remember to love. you will never regret it" --- Seane Corn

"ignore the story. see the soul. remember to love. you will never regret it" --- Seane Corn
it's a jungle out there

Thursday, August 6, 2009


OK it's summer. Lately my posts have consisted of BIG picts, and few words. See that crab button over there. Yup. Summer's taking up my blog time.
Well. This morning I visited Ms. Moon.  And, as she frequently does, she got me thinking.

Forgiveness. Compassion. Unconditional love

So today, as I mowed the lawn and clipped the hedges and baked banana bread and macky cheese and tossed a steak salad...

I thought...

Events over the past year have caused me to spend a lot of time thinking about forgiveness. So... OK. I don't GET forgiveness. Not that I haven't been forgiven for my transgressions. I think I have, for the most part. Maybe. I know I try to be mindful and considerate of others. I try to check myself and not hurt others or step on their toes. I think, at least during my adult years, any hurtful acts I have committed have been largely due to my own insensitivity. And when I become aware of a transgression, I apologize.  

But what about deliberate hurtfulness? Damage that's purposeful. That's when I start having trouble. I've been very fortunate. I have been spared. So far. There have been very few times in my life when I have been hurt by another to the point that I wrestled with forgiveness.

Yes. Wrestled. I'm not vindictive, and I'm not stubborn. But, like I said, I don't get it. Is forgiveness the absence of anger? After the hurt, after the sadness, after the anger or rage, is that when forgiveness occurs? 

My first husband was emotionally abusive. The marriage was short lived... a mistake from the beginning. And I knew it. At the end, my hurt and anger was not due to the nasty names, or the meanness, or the manipulation. I was hurt because he was supposed to love me. He was supposed to care for me. And although I understood that he was damaged, and insecure, and all that blah blah blah, what hurt the most and subsequently made me the most angry was the deliberateness of his actions.  I didn't actually feel the anger until I was ready to fight back. Once I decided to open my mouth and say no, he being the cowardly bully he was went high tailing it outta there. Never said sorry, never took responsibility.  Like so many abusers, the pretense was paramount.  I never got the chance to confront him. I walked around seething for quite a while. It was really hard to let go of the anger. I wasn't interested in holding on to it, but I wasn't quite sure how to unload it. Forgiveness. Forgive him. That's what I thought. I thought if I could just forgive him, the anger would disappear.  I walked away from that marriage stronger, smarter, and understanding myself much better than when I walked down the aisle. But still...
The problem was, forgiving him felt like I was condoning his behavior. It still feels that way. I didn't care what kind of screwed up childhood he had.  Somehow, to forgive him feels like I'm saying come on in and do it again. His abusiveness was not OK.  
It. was. not. OK.
I wrote a letter. Detailing his behavior. And sent it to his mother. And then I felt better.
So many years have passed. No anger. No nothing. Have I forgiven him? Can't say that I have.
Would I let him back into my life in any capacity? Absolutely not. Do I have ill feelings toward him? No. Would I accept an apology? Yes...

An apology. Maybe that's the key to forgiveness. Does the perpetrator need to be penitent? What if that first husband was not at all abusive, but a great guy, and an awesome husband? What if he was someone who would never, ever, deliberately hurt me.  And what if he, due to depression, stress, and substance abuse, spiraled into his own hell and threatened to drag me down, too. What if things got really insane. Unbelievably fucked up. 
But what if that husband clawed himself out of his hell, and busted his ass to repair things. What if I could see true recovery. And true remorse, and true responsibility for his actions. And true healing. What if I could see the man I married, before the depression and alcohol? 
I might just give that husband another chance. With a zero tolerance policy. Not unconditional love. Unconditional love is for one's children. So, is this forgiveness?

Is the purpose of forgiveness healing for the victim, or the perpetrator? Bestowing forgiveness. Begging for forgiveness. What if the perpetrator doesn't give a shit? We've all heard stories that arguably require unbelievable forgiveness. Check out this one. For me, forgiveness of this magnitude would be impossible. If those were your kids, or your husband, son, or father, could you forgive? And how do you forgive a dead person? How do you forgive those around her who allowed her behavior? 
there but for the grace of god go i

And those who abuse children? How does the adult child forgive? I wish that all those children who have experienced violence be able to live, at some point, without fear and sadness and hurt and anger. I wish for those children, and the adults they become, to be free. But forgive? For the life of me, I can't imagine.  How can violence against a child ever be forgiven? It still seems to me like it's condoning the behavior. Saying it's OK?... I forgive you?... well, some things are just not forgivable. Ever. Especially if the abuser refuses to take responsibility. Not many words on this, as I don't think I could ever forgive this kind of violation.

So, yeah. I don't get it. To err is human. We know that. We do it all the time. To forgive, divine. Maybe that's the problem. Maybe it's impossible to truly, fully forgive. Because we are not truly, fully divine.


  1. I am so with you on this one. I think that one element of forgiveness HAS to be apology. I don't understand this whole thing at all, really. But it has always seemed very fucked up to me that a church can "forgive" a person of all his or her sins, no matter what they are and that person can then be sure he or she will get into "heaven" while a perfectly fine individual who has never hurt another soul but who does not believe in god will not go to "heaven." This is so obviously false that it needs no more discussion.
    And then you have to go all the way back to what Jesus was supposedly here for which is to take on all our sins (if we just profess our belief in him). Again- makes NO sense to me.
    Poor Jesus. I don't even think that's what he was here for.
    I think if anything he was a misunderstood Boddhisattva.
    BUT- no. Forgiveness is NOT compassion. And those who argue that we need to forgive for ourselves are not of my mind.
    You know, after I wrote that post the other day, I examined my feelings towards my mother. Had they softened at all?
    I am so sorry to say that no, they have not. So guess what? I am not enlightened. I am just a not-perfect, not-divine person who is here, dealing with it all, trying to figure it out.
    I love you, Michelle. I do.

  2. Wonderful, very thoughtful post.

    I have an easy time forgiving. Jeremiah says I'm naive, but I think it's just feels right. But in all honesty, I forgave my ex husband for being a dickhead and for ignoring me...but I never forgave him for not realizing I was a young girl and he was a much older adult. Instead he acted like all the responsibility and trappings of existence were on me and if I didn't complete them in a perfect manner, than I was a total failure.

    Wow, I just poured my guts out.

    Needless to say, I started seeing him when I was 18 after Jeremiah and I ended our teenage romance of three years...
    He was wealthy and well mannered and successful where Jeremiah and I had been skate rats.
    He was 27 at the time.
    I went to college and let him dress me up and take me out and became pregnant soon after.
    Didn't see Jeremiah again for 7 years. Well, to make a long story short, Jeremiah and I have been together since the day we accidentally ran into each other after not speaking for all that time.

  3. In AA, we talk about forgiveness as a way to heal ourselves; it isn't FOR the other person at all. I have also learned that forgiving someone does NOT mean you have to continue to allow them to perpetuate that behavior. It doesn't mean you have to allow it to continue to happen. I am not going to get into this from a religious standpoint because frankly I believe most religions are bullshit, but from a believer's standpoint, I think we are given the gift of compassion and love and, yes, forgiveness, straight from the Big Guy, but that he would be so fucking pissed if we forgave and then turned around to let them do it again. My ex-husband- well. you know some of it; I am not angry at him for the things that happenned during our marriage, because I played a part in that, too. I have forgiven him for the things he did. That does NOT mean that I ever have to take him back, or have less hatred for him for the things he has done to Sam. And the god I believe in says good for you; glad you let go of all that anger and pain, but don't let him do it to you again. That's just me.

    Also, I think that "church people" somehow expect there to be instant forgiveness and compassion if it is asked for, and I think that is a bunch.of.shit. I think that it takes a lot of time and a lot of work and a lot of willingness, and I think that sometimes it just happens. So-if "we" let ourselves get caught up in the whole churchy part of it, we can make ourselves crazy.

    there. My two and half cents. That said, this is a GREAT post.

  4. And I keep thinking about this post.
    I was thinking about MY ex-husband (we all have one, don't we?) and yes, I think I totally forgive him for what happened in our marriage. I laugh about it all now. But in a way, I don't know that I forgive the HIM that was then for doing what he did to the ME that was me then. Like they're different people. And that's part of it, too.
    Obviously, a great post.
    I think I could chase my tail all over the milky way on this one.

  5. I don't have an ex-husband - I have a one and only - but I know Michelle's ex- and, like Erin's ex-, he was a dickhead. Anyway, I, too, have wrestled with forgiveness (just bought a book called "Total Forgiveness" a couple of weeks ago and still haven't cracked the spine...), but I do think it is for oneself and not for the one who "needs" forgiving. It's like guilt - "anger turned inward" (I have to repeat that often to check my guilt). So much of what we do and feel is between us and God, us and us, depending on what we believe. I think forgiveness is sincerely the act of letting it go. I say all of this knowing I can hold a grudge like nobody's business. But I, like Michelle, "wrestle" with it constantly. That said, I have no answers.

    BTW - hello, ladies - I have read what you have all shared, much to my delight, most of the time, and I thank you for it :)

  6. On my trip to San Diego I saw a family member who seriously fucked my shit up as a child and I can not forgive him. I just can't. I wish I could let go of it, but I just can't. I feel like if I forgave him it would be like saying that what he did to me was okay, that I am okay with it and I am not okay with it.

  7. Paul Simon wrote the lyric
    'there but for the grace of you go I'

    I think you're amazing.

  8. I, too, struggle with forgiveness. To me it means "it's ok that you cheated on me, hit me, made my life hell, etc" when certainly it is NOT! Great post and glad to hear I am not alone in my thinking, as I have been told I am too stubborn. I am a level-headed, educated person and just don't understand forgiveness. Maybe because I take the term literally. If it was called something else that was more fitting to the "real" meaning of this process, I could accept it more. Something like "Freedom".... Thoughts?


so... wadaya think?

Your fairy is called Columbine Icedancer
She is a bone chilling bringer of justice for the vulnerable.
She lives in mushroom fields and quiet meadows.
She is only seen when the bees swarm and the crickets chirrup.
She wears lilac and purple like columbine flowers. She has icy blue butterfly wings.