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...
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.