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30 Days of Truth Day 4: Forgiving someone else

I’m at the wedding tonight, which should be fun.  It’s always nice to catch up family that lives far away.  In the meantime, I thought I’d continue the 30 Days of Truth series.

This is Day 4 of the 30 Days of Truth series. (Day 12 | 3).

What’s something I have to forgive someone else for?

I am not a forgiving person.  It takes a lot for me to reach a point where I write someone off, but once they’ve crossed that line, I don’t forget what they’ve done.  This is usually a result of the fact that someone would essentially have to betray me completely or be such an utterly shitty and evil person that I can’t see any merit in a single fiber of their being.

Luckily, this series doesn’t insist that I forgive someone – just that I write about something I should forgive them for.  I can do that.  I can write about the point in my life when I was at the lowest I’ve ever been, curled up in a ball under my desk barely able to breathe.  I was completely frantic, reaching out for straws to grasp and thought I found one.  I opened up on a level that I had never done so before.  I was honest to such a degree that it hurt to share what I was feeling.  But talking about it was the only way for me to survive – at that moment, I knew that I was going to die if I didn’t talk about it.

With the exception of one person, the lifelines I flailed at held strong.  They roped me in and helped me stay afloat.  But that one – that one became a Janus, parroting every word I said to someone else, peppered with inaccuracy, bile, and selfishness.  That betrayal is something that I know I should forgive.  And even though time has passed, the thought of it still churns my gut.  Worst of all, though, is that one act of betrayal, at my moment of complete weakness, destroyed my ability to trust people to the depths I trusted them before.  I’m too scared to trust someone that much, now.  And that, I can’t forgive.

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52 Replies to “30 Days of Truth Day 4: Forgiving someone else”

  1. Roy

    Forgiveness is a commitment to a process of change. A way to begin is by recognizing the value of forgiveness and its importance in your life at a given time. Then reflect on the facts of the situation, how you’ve reacted, and how this combination has affected your life, health and well-being. When you’re ready, actively choose to forgive the person who’s offended you. Move away from your role as victim and release the control and power the offending person and situation have had in your life. As you let go of grudges, you’ll no longer define your life by how you’ve been hurt. You may even find compassion and understanding. By embracing forgiveness, you embrace peace, hope, gratitude and joy.

    • Avitable

      @Roy, that would infer that I’ve allowed my lack of forgiveness of this person to make me into a victim, which I haven’t. They have been cut from my life completely and I don’t think about it. I’ve moved on without forgiving, and I’m joyful, hopeful, and peaceful.

      • Roy

        moved on?? Doesn’t appear you have completely>>> “And even though time has passed, the thought of it still churns my gut. Worst of all, though, is that one act of betrayal, at my moment of complete weakness, destroyed my ability to trust people to the depths I trusted them before. I’m too scared to trust someone that much, now”.

  2. Kyra

    I don’t think that forgiving someone means the same thing to everyone. I also don’t think that being unable to forgive someone makes you a person playing the victim. Being angry doesn’t mean you aren’t justified. The definition that applies to this being “to cease to feel resentment against: to forgive one’s enemies”, or “to grant pardon for or remission of (an offense, debt, etc.); absolve. ”

    I think there are levels of forgiveness, and I think the one that strictly applies is to go forward without seeking “revenge” or “payment” of some sort. I do not believe that a basic level of forgiveness means forgetting, or not feeling angry. Oh sure, the upper levels are are pink roses and butterflies, and you forgive the person completely. I do believe in that, I believe in a “Bless and Release” program for some sorts of folks too, and have used it as well.

    But when you have really done something hurtful to me, and I didn’t deserve it (I spend a lot of time going over things, and I know damn well when I deserve it – and there have been times, believe me, and that gives me grounds for understanding, if not forgiveness), and if I truly cannot fathom why you would decide I was worth so little to you, or whatever else… I don’t forgive that. I see in you, a person who is capable of vile things. I don’t forget that. Ever. Even if I remain friends, going forward.

    For those who can “forget” or remember without even a tiny bit of resentment something horrible like that, I stand in awe of. That is not who I am. If you hurt me, I will remember that. I won’t try to return the hurt, or seek revenge or repayment of some sort – because that isn’t who I am. But I won’t ever forget. And if forgiveness requires a certain level of amnesia, well, I’m not that person.

    • Avitable

      @Kyra, I think this is definitely a good way to look at it. I don’t know if I am in awe of people who can forget major violations like that, though – I think that forgetting it completely is almost an avoidance mechanism.

  3. Miss Britt

    I thought you might find this quote interesting:

    “As you know, I am a huge proponent of forgiveness because it’s not always about the other person but is about us being able to move forward and heal our hearts.

    With that said, there are some people who do not deserve forgiveness and if we can find a way to move on and get our own peace without ever forgiving them? Then that is what we should do, psychology be damned.”

    And I have to go with Faiqa. I think forgiveness comes after repentance.

    If you don’t get repentance, it can be hard to walk around with the lack of closure. I think THAT is why we advocate forgiveness, to try to heal that open wound. But I think there must be another way – a way to heal even when the person who hurt you isn’t sorry.

    From a Christian standpoint? I think the answer to one who hurts but doesn’t repent is to be loved but damned. Heh.

    • Avitable

      @Miss Britt, that is a good quote, and is the person who said it who I think it is?

      You and Faiqa are both right. The goal is to be healed even with that hurt still existing, knowing that the other party is unlikely to ever have the capacity for self-reflection to realize that there should be repentance. And I definitely think it’s possible.

  4. cat

    Yeah, you don’t need to work on a damn thing here. If that person came up to you and gave a heart-felt apology and valid reason (ya right), then MAYBE forgiveness (but never forgetfulness) would be in order, but this sounds like X sucks and you’re better off without ’em. Fuck X and what X did to you.

  5. SisterMerryHellish

    Most of the time, I feel like I’ve completely forgiven this one particular person. I realize it was his screwed up, narrow-minded, beliefs that were the issue and not me. I know that. But then I meet somebody new and realize the way I handle things is still based on a distrust and reaction because of him. It’s my issue now, not his.

    Tricky. Very tricky.

  6. Kitty

    For years I couldn’t forgive and I wanted to forgive. I was so angry and I couldn’t let go. I had the most unforgivable acts perpetrated on me when I was a little girl and it was a trusted family member who did it. When the truth finally came out, he was protected, not me.

    I didn’t think I could ever forgive my family for that, but I did. After years of soul searching, walking away from God, walking back to God, some therapy, a lot of prayer and love of my many friends, I was able to forgive both my family and my brother. In spite of their continued denial of the facts.

    I did it because to do otherwise would have prevented me from being a fully realized human being, and from gaining some measure of understanding that walking around with all that anger and resentment kept me in that same place emotionally. I would never have been able to finally grow up.

    Here is the thing: I forgave them, but I don’t forget. I recognize that as human beings we all do unforgivable things. Yes there are degrees, but everyone deserves forgiveness. When you can recognize the humanity in the people who have hurt you in ways that feel irreparable and feel compassion for them and see that they have acted out of their own ignorance and woundedness, you will be able to forgive them.

    Forgiveness allows you to move past what happened and begin to trust other people again in that deep and meaningful way. It doesn’t mean that you pretend that nothing happened, or that you allow that person to ever be that close (as clearly they cannot be trusted). It does mean that you get to a place where you know that not everyone is that person and that there are people who deserve your love and trust and to whom you can give the gift of being wholly yourself.

    That is a prize worth gaining.

  7. Mari

    Forgiveness? Hmmm.
    I’m not the kind to forgive and forget. Or even just to forgive, most times. I hold a grudge, quite possibly until I die (I don’t know yet about the time line, let’s check back in 40 years or so?), and I enjoy every opportunity to pull it out and piss myself off again. The few instances that I have forgiven and moved on – well, those were generally a large difference of opinion instead of a personal betrayal.
    You betray me personally? I hope you spend eternity in either a fiery pit or upside down in a frozen tundra.
    But then, in some circles, I’m known as a total bitch. But you would only know that if you had betrayed me…..

  8. Karen Sugarpants

    Forgiveness doesn’t have to mean being at peace with that person. Take my parents for instance. I have forgiven them for all the abuse, but we no longer speak and I have no desire to. I would never allow that sort of toxicity back into my life, or my children’s lives.
    Sometimes forgiving someone means letting go of the hurt that remains in your heart so you can move on; it really has nothing to do with how the other person would receive it or even if they deserve it.
    I know you’ve moved on and maintained strong friendships with your lifelines, and I’m sorry to hear you are more cautious, but I don’t think it’s ruined you forever. And that hurt and anger dulls over time to where you don’t even think about it anymore.
    Also friendships like that aren’t true friendships. As much as it hurts at the time to let someone go from your life, especially when you’re the type to truly and deeply care about your friends, sometimes the peace that comes later is all worth ripping that band-aid soul sucking leech off. Besides, all that bile tends to taint everything. Be glad it’s gone. Hardly anyone in the world is like that and you’ll learn that it’s okay to trust again.

  9. Jennifer

    I think it’s perfectly OK to not forgive someone. Ever. We learn and grow from those hurts and I think it would be dumb to forgive and forget completetly. That said, if you don’t move past it, you give them power over you, through the pain that they cause you.

    They are totally not worth one more moment of your time.

    There is this poem out there, “Front row of your life” that I really like and even printed it out to remind me that shit like this won’t matter in 100 years. It doesn’t *really* address your situatuion, but you might get something from it.
    Everyone Can’t be In The Front Row.

    Life is a theater – Invite your audience carefully. Not everyone is healthy enough to have a front row seat in our lives. There are some people in your life that need to be loved from a distance. It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you let go, or at least minimize, your time with draining, negative, incompatible, not-going-anywhere relationships/friendships.

    Observe the relationships around you. Pay attention. Which ones lift and which ones lean? Which ones encourage and which ones discourage? Which ones are on a path of growth uphill and which ones are going downhill? When you leave certain people, do you feel better or feel worse? Which ones always have drama or don’t really understand, know or appreciate you?

    The more you seek quality, respect, growth, peace of mind, love and truth around you, the easier it will become for you to decide who gets to sit in the FRONT ROW and who should be moved to the balcony of your life. You cannot change the people around you…but you can change the people you are around!

    Author Unknown

  10. hello haha narf

    i may forgive so that my heart is clean, but fuck if i will forget. and to me forgiveness doesn’t not mean that the other person has to do anything…they can keep being assholes OVER THERE and i will stay over here.

    i hate that you ever had to know such hurt and betrayal.

  11. hpflo

    Agree with the comment that somethings just cannot be forgiven.
    But for me I find sometimes in times like these (mistakes, betrayal etc) it takes too much of my energy and makes me a negative person. It consumes my life and all I think about is the person who f***ed me over! So, I forgive in my own way but won’t forget! Sometimes it ‘s just not worth the pain and effort of not forgiving, esp if it eats up your life. But you should be happy….deserve to be… so at the end it’s up to you….you choose what makes you happy, forgiving, forgotting or both or neither. And you move on!

  12. Muskrat

    What a bitter asshole you are. Do you have a juris doctorate by chance?

    I had breakfast with someone just yesterday who was preaching the liberation of forgiving. It’s not supposed to vary according to how deserving the recipient. And, withholding it only hurts you. So, I’m going to disagree with all the comments I’ve read and say you’re doing it wrong (quoth the hypocrite, hence my need to hear it at breakfast).

  13. Robin

    I think I’ve forgiven a LOT of people from my past although it took a really long time and a lot of distance. I had to move on and move forward but it wasn’t easy. I think I’m ok at forgiving but I have a really really really hard time at forgetting.

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