Giving forgiveness

Yesterday, I wrote about granting forgiveness--basically releasing yourself of the bondage of bitterness and hatred by letting go of the right to get even. Granting forgiveness is one of the best gifts you can give yourself. You're not doing the other person a favor at this point. This forgiveness is all about you.

I felt much better as days passed and I had forgiven my mother, but she had no idea that anything had changed because it was a gift I'd given to myself. I was taking back control of a large part of my life. It didn't really affect her at all.

But a day was coming, a day I never even believed could come, when my mother would see me and hear me for the first time in a give-and-take relationship, healthy and open. It was something that I wanted deep within, but had pushed the idea so far down that I couldn't have even told you I wanted it at all. I'd been crushed over and over in my life and learned not to have "unreasonable expectations". If you don't expect too much, you can't get hurt as badly.

I remember the drive in my husband's Monte Carlo, taking my mother back to her place. We were reminiscing over a recent question and answer session we'd done independently, neither knowing what the other had said. (We still don't know!) For the first time I was able to tell her that she had deeply hurt me over and over in my childhood with her critical spirit and correction. What she had viewed as being positive criticism had ripped my heart and soul to pieces, over and over. In addition to words that crushed, I had been wounded by her pathological rage--a by-product of untreated bipolar disorder.

She told me, or I suppose it is more truthful to say I was able to hear her for the first time as well, that she had never meant to hurt me like that. She told me she was sorry she had hurt me. She has told me since that she's sorry she wasn't able to parent me better.

Her acknowledgement of the situation, her need to be forgiven, allowed me to give her forgiveness. This time, I was still forgiving her, but I was setting her free!

Relationships are always about two or more people. If there is damage done, I can forgive the person who hurt me regardless of whether they know they hurt me or not. That forgiveness is granting me freedom. If and when they realize that they have done something to fail the relationship and seek forgiveness, I can then give them forgiveness, giving them freedom. Relationships cannot be healed without both.

In fact, there is a third scenario, and again it is healing for the individual, but it doesn't restore the relationship. I know this scenario very well as I have faced it down more than I'd like to admit too! This happens when I know I've hurt or offended someone and ask them to forgive me, but they can't or don't. Admitting my need for forgiveness gives me internal freedom from my error, but still doesn't heal the relationship. Only when the person I've hurt can respond, "Of course, I forgive you!" can amends be made.

I'm so fortunate to have learned these things about forgiveness, and spent much time releasing myself of others, admitting my wrongs and seeking forgiveness, and releasing others and making amends to heal the relationship. I'm far from perfect. I make mistakes all the time, but now I know the steps to restoration. That makes all the difference most days!


TheSmellyArmpit said…
WOW! What a great post! There's a friend of mine I've forgiven but she still has no clue about what she had done or just doesn't acknowledge it and our relationship has never been the same. Thanks so much for this post!!! :)
Kathy said…
Love this post Ceci! Brought tears to my eyes as I read it :-)
Ceci G. said…
Your comment blessed me! Thanks for sharing! It is my deepest hope and prayer that my journey will offer hope and encouragement to others!

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