walkitout (walkitout) wrote,

a sidelight on forgiveness

R. (not my husband or my sister) posted recently about an incident of forgiveness. Someone who had Acted Very Badly to her and others got called on it by R. in yet another amazing example of her willingness to instruct and enlighten, even the least deserving among us. Stunningly enough, the person in question took himself off and Got Help and Insight and Got Better or at least learned how to Act Decently in Public, apologized to R. and acted well enough that she discovered no further hardness in her heart to him, that is to say, she forgave.

To which I say, woohoo! Congratulations. And so forth. I am completely sincere. _Really_.

It reminded me, however, of a conversation I had last weekend with my friend A. We covered a lot of ground, but at one point, I was giving an example of how it is helpful to have insight into oneself so one can catch a not-so-good-impulse before acting on it and so not be a jackass unnecessarily. The example was: someone is "slow" to respond to a phone call/e-mail/etc., then I think, perhaps I offended them, no, they think I am a jackass, they've always thought I'm a jackass, they've told everyone I'm a jackass, everyone knows but me and they are All Laughing At Me. E-mail sent after traveling through this sequence is Rarely Well-Formed and I have, over the years, learned to Just Wait. Also to tell myself, oh, come on, that is Fear of Abandonment and Therefore Entirely the Fault of Your Mother.

To which my friend A. said, Amen, sister and high-fived me.

I was surprised by this, because while I knew A. had some Issues with her family, I also knew she had recently buried her mother after a few years of caring for her in a series of settings ending in a nursing home and A. agonized over this series of events/decisions to this day. I can't see that happening between me and my mother. But while A. did maintain a relationship with her mother to the very end, she had sufficient insight into herself, her mother and their relationship to see that this relationship had in fact done some fairly specific damage.

And A. seemed genuinely pleased at having a little tape to play in her head the next time she got wrapped up in that noxious sequence of fear and anxiety about abandonment and mockery, a little tape that said, It Is All My Mother's Fault.

While surprised, I am completely tickled at the idea that this thing that I do, this absolutely NOT forgiveness thing that I do and that is so effective and satisfying to me, might be useful to someone else.

So. If someone has wronged you, and you have been harmed as a result, this is my gift to you: Feel Free to Blame Them, whenever that scar twinges, or that joint aches, or whatever. Someday, like my friend R., you might no longer feel a need to blame them, and at that point, I celebrate that forgiveness has happened. But in the meantime, don't hesitate to give credit right where it's due. It's freeing. And it's the most effective way I've found to redirect those nasty little impulses.

You don't have to do it out loud or in person (in fact, out loud and/or in person might be a really bad idea) for this little trick to be effective.

  • Post a new comment


    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded 

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.