We’ve all heard that we must forgive others. It is not for their benefit but for ours. This sounds great and all but how does one manage to really forgive another? Where do you start and how do you convince your heart or get your heart to actually forgive someone? The head says to forgive and we know that that’s what’s needing to be achieved but the heart forgiving is another thing.
I know there have been many times when someone has said “I’m sorry…please forgive me”, I have been able to do so. Usually in those cases, the infraction was minor…maybe it was something that they said they would do but when the time came to do it, they forgot. Later they would realize that they had forgotten and apologize. In these cases, it’s usually easy to overlook the infraction but when it is something big like child abuse or any thing hurtful that was deliberately inflicted on to another person…how do you let go of the anger and forgive?
It took me quite a bit of time to get to the point of total forgiveness. I needed to understand the what’s and why’s of it. For example: why did my Mom deliberately set out to hurt me? What was she trying to do? When I finally understood, the forgiveness came quite easily and then I was able to look upon her with such pity and compassion.
I understood that she probably had a difficult childhood herself and much like many child abusers, the abusers have often been abused themselves so they continue this cycle on to their children. This is also true of domestic violence. The abusers were not able to break the cycle…but what of the people who intentionally hurt others? Much like my personal situation, there were many times when my Mom intentionally did things to hurt me…then I understood…fear.
There are two primary emotions a person harbors within themselves and those are love and fear. The love that a person has is not so much the love that they feel towards others but for themselves. Not coming from the ego mind but the deeper self, loving one self means that they know and believe that they are “lovable”. When you lack self love, fear becomes the primary emotion because without self love, these people are threatened in every aspect of their lives. They’re afraid of being abandoned, afraid of losing something/someone that they perceive as “theirs”. They feel fear in every corner of their lives and don’t even know it.
In my situation, I came to understand that my Mom was, and still is extremely fearful. During my childhood, She was afraid of losing the affections of her husband to her daughters. She was also threatened by my sis and I because she saw that our Dad loved us (when we were first adopted). Not understanding that the love that Dad had for us was different than the love that he had for her, this was becoming a huge problem for her. She saw herself as ugly and unloveable and this reached it’s peak when my sis and I started changing into young women. Because of this fear, she lashed out at us in every possible way to try and make herself feel better. The ironic thing is when a person is hateful in their acts, they appear “ugly” on the outside just by nature of their actions. I’m sure some of you know or have known someone who appears extremely beautiful or handsome on the outside and yet their mean and hateful actions or attitude seem to negate that beauty altogether.
I knew I had truly forgiven my Mom for everything she had done to me, when I no longer felt that one day I hoped that she would be punished for her actions. Today I pray that she will one day find peace and love within herself…but she probably won’t. Some people are so deep in their fear and unable to see any love at all…even from the people that actually did or do love them…they’re blinded by their own fear.
Dad’s situation is quite different. There is still a part of me that can’t quite wrap my head around the fact that my Dad came from a good, hardworking, middle class Christian family with good values and yet he behaved in a manner that suggests otherwise. I know that he tried. He tried very hard when my sis and I were young to have many talks with my Mom. To try and sooth her fears…try to explain to her in the best way that he could, that he loved her and he also loved us. After many years of trying with no results, he eventually gave up the fight and became just like her. In a sense, being in the midst of all the darkness which surrounded our family and our home, he eventually lost his light and succumbed to the darkness as well.
Forgiving does not necessarily mean forgetting…and not forgetting does not mean that one is constantly harping on what happened to cause the hurt. Most people would agree that it’s impossible to forget and that’s ok…it just means that when the you remember the incidents that have cause pain, it no longer carries any charge. There is no emotional charge attached to any particular incident because it has been “discharged” with compassion.