Archives for posts with tag: forgiveness

This weekend I enjoyed a hot cup of coffee – the first since my crown fell out, weeks ago. The socket left from the tooth extraction is considerably healed, although still quite tender (and I still have to be suuuper careful about bits of food getting lodged in what is left of the hole). Oh, for sure, I did not drink hot coffee while still completely hot. I, rather wisely, I thought, let is cool off quite a bit, and it was lovely even to drink warm coffee. I’d been managing properly chilled cold coffees for a few days, but hot felt like a real milestone. 🙂

…This morning, I’m finishing off the last of the canned coffee, icy cold. Tomorrow? I’ll be back to making coffee in the morning. It is a moment of self-care, ritual, and reflection, that I have been missing. 🙂

It was a rather peculiar weekend, in some regards. My Traveling Partner prepares to travel. I enjoy his company while he does so. Simple stuff. Still also fairly peculiar, in spots, with more than typical (brief) moments of (unexpected) strife. We work it out – we always do. No yelling, no raised voices, just moments when it was very obvious that our perspectives on some particular event, circumstance, or simply how we view some experiences, differ so much that even discussing them in practical terms becomes difficult. It drove home the understanding that, as individuals, we are each having our own experience, and view the world through the lens of our own understanding, defining our terms using our own unique dictionary, colored by our experiences, our values, and our assumptions.

I took time to reread “How to Love“. Another great starting point in any moment of growth. I followed that with “After the Ecstasy, the Laundry” – both great for perspective, and for reflection. I smile, now, in happy consideration that I have the sort of home life, and partnership, that allows for time to read, and supports discussion, without yelling. It’s nice. It’s very much worth the shared effort.

I step away from my writing for a moment to add something to my backpack that I’ll need later today, and notice that most signs of packing for travel are now missing from the living room landscape. Realizing my partner likely packed the car last night (and that I slept through that), I feel a brief twinge of loneliness in advance, that seems to want my attention. I breathe, exhale, and relax, letting go of the momentary pain of deep attachment being disturbed; we benefit from the time away from each other, having other experiences. I’m even looking forward to having a few days of solo time. I smile softly in the darkness, heading back to my studio, to finish my writing; it feels good to be so well-loved, and to love so deeply in return.

…Strange week for this adventure to play out. I’ve got a team member out on vacation, but somehow also committed myself to completing a major piece of analysis by midweek, while training a new member of my team (who won’t be able to help much with a day-to-day routine he does not yet know), and oh, right – I’ve got an appointment today! I feel time suddenly contract, folding in on me, building a sense of urgency and pressure (that, admittedly, I neither need, nor find “motivating”, at all). I correct my posture. Breathe. Exhale. Relax. I let all that go. The next couple days will be, perhaps, a bit longer than I’d ideally prefer. Sometimes that’s a thing. Reliably skillful boundary and expectation-setting, and general good self-care, means it isn’t a big thing – and will remain very temporary. I’m okay with that. The first couple days (and nights) without my partner will be the most emotionally difficult for me, and being quite busy during that time will serve me well. 🙂

…He leaves tomorrow. “Tomorrow?? That’s practically now!!” My brain sets off alarm bells in my head, and I feel somewhat breathless. Again, I breathe through that. Exhale. Relax. Let it go. I laugh at myself to both yearn for some solo time to catch my breath and really reflect upon the small changes that come with cohabitation, and also yearning to remain close to this human being I love so fondly. So human. There is literally no way to have both, in the same moment. 🙂 He has carefully planned his trip, and shared his itinerary, knowing that I find comfort in the planning, and the details, however poorly he may end up sticking to those due to, you know, all the real life and stuff, that so easily could occur along the way. I eye my clock warily, sensitive to how quickly tomorrow morning comes; I’ll go to work, and when I return home, tomorrow, it will be to solitude. Wild. So soon. 🙂

The weekend is over. The new week is ahead. One Monday of many, and it seems a good one so far. I finish my coffee, check the timing on the train for my early start to the day, and prepare to begin again.

It’s a lovely morning, so far. Well… I mean… Okay, it’s drizzling – I can hear the rain against the front walkway, and the “shhhhh-shhhhh” of the tires of passing cars on wet pavement. The skies are gray, and the sun seems slow to rise. My coffee doesn’t taste particularly good…just… adequately “coffee” to get the job done. I slept poorly, restlessly, and woke often. My face hurts – and it’s too soon for more Ibuprofen, because I took it during the night, on one of the several occasions I was briefly awake. So… “lovely”? May not seem the obvious descriptor. Hell, I’m even a tad cross. lol

I’m okay right now.

Here’s the thing; my heart is free. I’m a friend to myself. I build healthy relationships. I’m generally contented. Life is, more often than not, very much pretty okay, most of the time. That’s something. It’s even, comparatively speaking, quite a lot. I’ve come a long way from the precipice on which I stood (metaphorically), as recently as 6 years ago. Only 6 years? Holy shit – and dragging very little drama behind me. 🙂

…I walked away from a lot of bullshit and some bad poorly chosen relationships to get here. The decision-making did not often feel “easy”, but looking back on it, a lot of it seems quite obviously necessary now. So, I smile and sip my fairly unpleasant tasting, and refreshingly cold, coffee, listen to the rain, and note the loveliness of the morning; it’s an experience generated from within.

I allow myself the moment to reflect and appreciate the journey, thus far; soon enough, it’ll be time to begin again, with a fresh new day, and a long list of shit to get done; it’s a good day for it. 😀

My face is not hurting as much (after my recent tooth extraction). It’s day 7. The stitches will begin to dissolve and healing continues. I can mostly drink normally, but I’m not quite to “hot coffee”, yet. There are still so many foods that are a poor choice, and I am quite careful about what I eat or drink, and how I care for the empty tooth socket while it heals. Weirdly, I think the tiny wisdom tooth left behind, rather stoically, all alone in the corner, seems to be… bigger? Am I… teething? The weird ache in my jaw seems to suggest so – or at least that other teeth are “settling in”, having more room, now. My tongue tells me that the gap left behind when the molar came out is notably smaller than it was the day of the extraction. Strange. I mean… I’m not objecting. I’m just observing.

…The cold of my coffee feels good in my mouth. My thoughts move on to other things.

Meditation is a favorite practice; it’s like opening a box.

I find myself in a strange place during meditation, letting things go. Practicing gratitude – and forgiveness. Seems a good morning for it. I finish my coffee and look at the time. This moment here is as good as any for new beginnings. 🙂

A deep breath, a smile, and a quick check that I’ve got what I need to begin the day, and I set off to build a good experience on this lovely morning. There is no map, and that’s okay, too.  🙂

Eventually, there comes a time when “forgiveness” comes up in many discussions of past pain or trauma (even very recent pain and trauma, honestly). Sometimes it comes in the form of someone seeking forgiveness, other times it comes in the form of someone wondering if providing forgiveness is overdue… or possible at all.

Forgiving someone for something they have done to hurt us isn’t about the person who hurt us, at all. That’s an important detail we sometimes forget (as do seekers of forgiveness). So… there’s that.

Forgiving someone for hurting me has been a peculiarly tender and personal thing to learn to do. It took me a while to figure it out; so often the conversation around forgiveness has seemed to center on the actions being forgiven, or the person, and it’s actually not at all about any of that. Forgiveness is letting go our attachment to pain – that deep down personal aggrieved attachment to feeling wounded, and carrying the anger associated with that hurt. Forgiving is the process of letting that go, and moving on, ourselves.

You know what forgiving someone is not? It’s not permission to repeat that hurtful behavior. It’s also not any sort of agreement to continue inviting that person into our life to continue a shared journey as though there had never been any hurt. In fact – forgiving someone has nothing at all to do with the nuts and bolts and practical details of whether they are a part of our life ever again at all. Forgiving someone else is a way of allowing ourselves to move forward from a painful moment.

I’ve long ago forgiven my first husband for the injuries and scars that still sometimes hold me back, or at least affect my day-to-day experience of health. I’ve forgiven my second long-term partner, now also an ex, for the prolonged slide into learned helplessness and chronic frustration that come from being gas-lighted and manipulated for years. I’ve forgiven childhood enemies for their transgressions, and adults more recently who’ve mistreated me in one way or another, over time. Learning to forgive became almost easy once I understood that to do so did not require me to also invite people back into my life to repeat those behaviors – there is no expectation or requirement to do so at all. I can forgive, and move on with my life, allowing them to move on with theirs.

Forgiveness is powerful. I highly recommend it as a practice. I also, and without conflict or contradiction, highly recommend maintaining – and enforcing – healthy boundaries. Respect your own boundaries, respect the boundaries of others, and yes, even when you’ve forgiven someone. Non-negotiable relationship deal-breakers remain non-negotiable, and also deal-breaking, even in the face of “forgiveness”. That’s totally correct and appropriate. That’s proper. Having forgiven my first husband for his violence in no way suggests or requires that I allow him back into my life. 🙂 Forgiving him is for me, not for him.

When people seek forgiveness from us, the intention often seems to be to re-ingratiate themselves in our favor, as though “all is forgiven” also means “do over” and “no harm done”. That seeking suggests that the forgiveness is somehow about the person who has transgressed – but it isn’t, at all. I understand wanting to be forgiven; it sucks to ache with the pain of having hurt someone we care for. Too bad. It’s actually supposed to hurt if we hurt someone or treat them poorly; to remind us to do better, and to nudge us into making it right. Being forgiven doesn’t get someone off the hook for having to make amends, or somehow right our wrongs, and we’re mistaken if we assume that it does.

Being forgiven does not wind back the clock as though what was forgiven never happened. Relationships end on the backs of some pretty heinous deal-breaking words and actions – they should. Forgiving someone for those words or actions in no way suggests continuing the shitty relationship is going to be a thing, or that somehow the pain of what went down will just stop existing. We are each accountable for our actions. We face consequences – real consequences – for our choices, for our words, for our behavior, and whether or not we are forgiven by someone we’ve hurt, this is true.

I spent some time reflecting on forgiveness this weekend, having overheard a remark to the effect that “he’s not going to forgive me this time…” from a woman aware she chronically and repeatedly abuses her mate. I was astonished at the phrasing, which suggested she did not at all understand that the forgiving of her shitty behavior is not in any way related to whether or not the relationship itself would, or should, continue. It got me wondering about forgiveness, generally, and boundaries, and I found myself looking over past moments, myself, that I had forgiven. I felt pretty relieved that forgiveness has been so hard to learn, for me; the result has been that it did not become the kind of leverage that could be used to get me to “stay with a sinking ship” or “run back into a burning building”.

Here’s a thing that rankles me about that overheard remark; it also suggests that the speaker does not understand accepting forgiveness. Understanding that one has been forgiven requires a change in behavior – because accepting forgiveness implicitly acknowledges the wrongdoing. Once we know we have wronged someone, there is an obligation to change the behavior. No change? Well…um… why the fuck would a reasonable person expect that relationship to continue?? Furthermore, continued poor behavior, once forgiven, and having been acknowledged as poor (and undesirable) behavior – is willful. Yep. I said it and I mean it; if you know it’s unwelcome behavior, you’ve previously expressed regret for it, previously been forgiven for it, and you continue that behavior? You are deliberately, willfully, and yes on purpose, doing this hurtful thing. Seeking further forgiveness for the same shit is fairly sick, very manipulative, and in the face of chronic behavior, just a way of holding back that person you are hurting from seeking healthier relationships, and keeping them mired in bullshit with you. Particularly since the forgiveness isn’t about you. lol

For those faced with forgiving someone yet again for the same old same old, maybe also consider getting off that fucking hamster wheel at some point. Forgive, yes, but damn – respect your own boundaries, and be prepared to follow through on your non-negotiable deal-breakers. It’s okay to do that – and more to the point, it’s healthier to be free of abusive relationships than it is to attempt to “fix” them in the face of chronic mistreatment. Forgiveness is not tantamount to permission, or an agreement to ignore the damage done. 😉

It’s a whole new day. It’s a grand one to forgive old pain! It’s also an excellent day to stand strong on your resolve to treat yourself well, and to respect your own boundaries. It’s a lovely day to begin again. 🙂

…Or, well, don’t. I can’t really help much on the topic of forgiveness. I’m not an expert on it – hell, I barely understand the concept, and I am pretty sure I suck at ‘forgiveness’. (I hear the recollection of 20-something me, in the distance past, snarling at an associate “there are things even your god does not forgive!” in a moment of unreserved hurt and rage.) I am having to come to terms with some things about the idea of forgiveness, though. Firstly, that ‘forgiveness’ is not a religious tenet; it’s a concept available to anyone for their own benefit, at any time. Secondly, forgiveness says nothing at all about the person being forgiven – and says a lot about the person forgiving. The last thing I am coming to terms with is that to grow beyond ancient pain, and ancient rage, sooner or later forgiveness comes up as a topic; I can’t move on, or let go, without the power of ‘forgiveness’… Which means sooner or later, understanding the concept would be useful.

I resent the hell out of being faced with any expectation or demand that I forgive some heinous transgression. I’m very human. When I hurt I want it ‘made right’ with me by the person who hurt me, and no substitute will do. There is no room for ‘apology by proxy’ in my heart. These feelings give the anger a foothold to become bitterness over time, and the hurt to become a festering wound that changes who I am. That’s powerful – and not in a positive way. When I find myself unable to let go of a hurt over time, it has the power to slowly see me evolve to become that thing that hurt me so, or something worse. Hell of a puzzle there; failing to forgive someone who hurt me gives them the power to continue to influence my heart and mind!

"Broken"  16" x 20" acrylic on canvas w/ceramic & glow 2012 Once the damage is done...then what?

“Broken” 16″ x 20″ acrylic on canvas w/ceramic & glow 2012
Once the damage is done…then what?

Not knowing how to forgive, and not being permitted vengeance or retribution, I have sometimes found myself trapped, holding on to pain, frustration, impotent rage – slowly poisoning myself from within. This is not a condition in life I would wish on myself, and recognizing that one key to the puzzle of ancient pain may be this ‘forgiveness’ thing I hear so much about, perhaps it is time to consider it further?

I have some experience with forgiveness. Childhood experiences mostly, in some cases rather scripted – the parental ‘say you’re sorry to your sister’ example comes to mind, where following the steps end with just letting it go, and returning to play. Compassion may be a natural quality of human beings, but I am pretty sure ‘forgiving’ has to be taught to us. Forgiveness was not emphasized in my upbringing. Is it a process, more than an emotion? I’m pretty handy when I have the steps of a process written down in front of me for practice…maybe that’s what I need to do here? Figure out the steps to forgiveness, write them down, and…oh yeah, you know what comes next right? Practice.

Why am I on about this, this morning? I read a quote on the internet recently that got my attention, and resonated with me in the moment, and lingered:

Forgiving someone doesn’t mean condoning their behavior. It doesn’t mean forgetting how they hurt you or giving that person room to hurt you again. Forgiving someone means making peace with what happened. It means acknowledging your wound, giving yourself permission to feel the pain, and recognizing why that pain no longer serves you. It means letting go of the hurt and resentment so that you can heal and move on. ~Daniell Koepke

It is from a larger article, that I didn’t have time to read and bookmarked for later. The quote has stuck with me for days. I’d never understood forgiveness in those terms. This matters, at least to me; I have long struggled with the idea that forgiveness gave that other ‘a pass’ – they ‘get away with it’ – they ‘win’ – and at my expense! It seems so incredibly unfair. When I read this quote it opened my heart to understand that forgiveness isn’t ever about that person who hurt us, and it isn’t something we do for them – is it the ‘missing puzzle piece’ that allows me to move on, to heal, to ‘let it go’ on my own terms, and in my own time? That’s a pretty big deal. Definitely worth further consideration.

Life finds its own path, sometimes the 'obvious' choices are not the only choices.

Life finds its own path, sometimes the ‘obvious’ choices are not the only choices. (A rose seedling growing in the crook of a tree.)

Life’s curriculum continues to put the most challenging coursework I can manage in front of me for my continuing education. 🙂 I’ve come a long way to be ready to study forgiveness; it seems like ‘advanced studies’ to me. It dovetails with a recent discussion with my therapist about anger, and another that followed on that topic with my traveling partner. Anger is another very big deal, and difficult for me to discuss without rousing the beast within; is forgiveness also a path to cooling the heat and ferocity of ancient rage so that I can at last actually just talk about it? I feel a bit as if I opened a chapter in the text-book that opens with a promising paragraph that ‘connects the dots’ in a much bigger puzzle, but does so using new vocabulary that I don’t really understand. I am eager to continue.

Taking the obstacles one at a time, and taking the journey slowly; there's a lot to learn along the way.

Taking the obstacles one at a time, and taking the journey slowly; there’s a lot to learn along the way.

Today is a good day to study, and a good day to embrace new knowledge. Today is a good day to grow, and to become more that woman I most want to be. Today is a good day to take a different look at the world I live within; it is of my own creation, and perhaps it is time to change the emotional landscape?