radvent day 4: forgiveness

Day 4: It’s hard to come out of a place of resentment, and it takes practice (just like everything). Practice forgiving about small, everyday things. You can always non-forgive later. Who and what are you ready to let go of resentment toward?

I’m pretty good at forgiving people who ask for it.  Someone says they’re sorry and means it, I’m all about saying, I appreciate that, it’s cool, we’re all good. I grew up in a family where we’d admit when we were wrong, or if we didn’t think we were wrong, we’d say, I didn’t mean to hurt you, but I’m sorry I did.

And that’s why I have trouble with people who don’t apologize for things, who think that to say they’re sorry is to admit weakness. If you hurt me but don’t tell me you’re sorry in some small way, how do I know you care about my feelings? How do I know you’ll try not to hurt me again?

So. I don’t carry a lot of grudges, and the ones I do carry fade after a few years. That guy I broke up with in 2002 that I wished had never existed? I hardly ever think about him. The friend with whom I had a falling-out in 1998? Eh. It’s been so long, I never see or interact with them in any way, so it’s easy to let that shit go.

There’s one grudge I still hold, though, against an old ex who lied to me, became sort of yell-y when I discovered the lies, and then began breaking into my email account several times a day to check for who knows what (thank you, Gmail Last Account Activity feature for allowing me to find out about this!). Try as I might, I can’t forgive on this one. I just can’t. Any advice?

3 thoughts on “radvent day 4: forgiveness

  1. Well, since your asking, I think that if this is a person who you rarely see or don’t see at all,forgiveness for him might not be what you are looking for. You mentioned a falling out with a friend that happened 12 years ago – you don’t have to actively forgive that person, as if the act of saying “I forgive you” to their face will absolve them and heal you, you just need to let go of the negative feelings you have toward them. Maybe this is another one of those times. Maybe lying, yelling at you, and then email-stalking you isn’t the sort of thing a person should be forgiven for, and maybe what you really need is to forgive yourself for having this grudge at all – because honestly, he sounds like he deserves a grudge, or a swift kick in the nuts. It’s just my way, but I find when I have been wronged, it’s easier to forgive myself for putting myself into a bad situation and staying there than it is to forgive a person who does horrible things to me. It’s okay to not like someone, and it’s okay to not want a person in your life anymore, and it’s okay to still think that person is a douche ten years later, ya know?

    Also, I’ve lurked your blog since you went roadtripping years ago but never said hi, but I’m trying to be better about that now. So hi!

  2. In therapy, we redefined forgiveness and that works for me – but yes, sometimes it takes time.

    I was hung up on “forgive and forget” or that my forgiveness was condoning the other person’s actions or me saying the shitty thing the person did is okay. There are a lot of times when it is NOT okay. I was also worried that the forget part would leave me vulnerable to letting it happen again. So we came up with a new definition…

    Forgiveness, for me, is often as simple as saying: I am taking away the power that you have over me to make me feel like shit. Looking at it like that empowered me to start letting go of some things. But it’s not a one shot deal. I have to practice this forgiveness.

    I don’t know if that helps, I hope it does, but FWIW, this is what I have to do.

  3. When I have a hard time forgiving someone, I remind myself of how scared they must have been to have acted that way. Somehow imagining their fear makes me feel compassion for them, and when I feel compassion, I can forgive. Maybe your ex got really scared when you discovered the lies because he thought you were going to leave him or think badly of him. Maybe he broke into your email account because he was afraid that you were talking badly about him. I personally think that lying, yelling and stalking are all forgivable actions. They may be mistakes and surely there are better ways to act, but we all make mistakes and deserve to be forgiven. Most of all, YOU deserve to forgive because you will feel lighter when you do, and who doesn’t like feeling lighter?

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