Sunday, September 16, 2007

Forgiveness Is For You, Not The Other Person

Daily Word, July 22, 2007, page 36:
"Releasing the past and embracing forgiveness, I am refreshed and renewed.

FORGIVE
Dear God, my deepest desire is to know You more and to fully experience Your love. In tune with You, I understand the importance of forgiveness, and I forgive.
As I forgive others for any misguided words or actions, I myself feel uplifted in spirit. Your love has the capacity to open my eyes and heart to the realization that because no one except me owns my happiness, no one can take my good from me. You are my all in all, and I strengthen this awareness in deep meditation.
I forgive myself for any thought of myself as anything less than Your beloved child. I do not blame myself for what has happened or not happened. This is a new beginning. Releasing the past and embracing forgiveness, I am refreshed and renewed."

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As my title says, forgiveness is not something that you do for the other person. Forgiveness is something that you do for you. Until you can forgive, you continue to carry around hurt, anger, hate, sorrow---all deep emotions that affect your body, the way you see yourself, the way you see other people, and the way you see your world. Not forgiving can keep you stuck in all of these emotions.

These emotions can affect your body by keeping it stressed out with high blood pressure, hurting from arthritis which is anger turned inward, or in the extreme, by creating cancer which can be anger and hurt eating away at you. So many illnesses can come from holding the emotions of hurt, anger, hate and sorrow in your body over a long length of time.

These emotions can affect the way you see yourself by striking at your self-esteem and self-love. Because of hurt, anger, hate, and sorrow, you may see yourself as undeserving. So, as I hope you can see, forgiveness is really for you. The other person isn't being hurt by your unforgiveness, your anger, your hate, your sorrow. Often, the other person doesn't know or doesn't care what you are feeling.
When I started writing this article, suddenly everywhere I looked was something about forgiveness. I put the article away and decided to wait and sit for a little while with the feelings and information that was coming my way. This process has been going on for the past two weeks.
One of the first articles that came my way was from Adam of Adam's Peace with his article called "Pragmatic Peace: Forgiveness" found at http://www.adamspeace.com/blog/2007/09/11/pragmatic-peace-forgiveness/ . Adam immediately caught my attention when he asked the question, "If a child in your family were sexually molested, would you be able to forgive their abuser?" Please go and visit Adam at his blog. Be sure to read the comment that I left after Adam's article. Then come back and read the rest of my article. It was Adam's article that caused me to sit with my own article, waiting for the final pieces to fall into place so that I could finish writing this. Then Adam left a comment at the end of my article "Mixed Emotions Keep The Hurt Alive . . . " which you can go and read if you haven't already.
While I was waiting and processing the feelings, I happened to watch two movies on TV. The first one was the musical "Rent". I love musicals. I had no idea what the movie was about other than being a musical when I rented it. The phone kept interupting me watching the movie so I missed a lot of it and the DVD messed up twice also. There were two places in the movie that I sobbed. One was the death of Angel, a Drag Queen who was the heart of the "family". The other scene was the near death experience of one of the women at the end of the movie when she was told by Angel that it wasn't her time to die. The "family" in "Rent" consisted of two straight men, a straight woman, two gay men and two gay women. It was an odd assortment but they became a real family who cared about each other. Why was I crying? Because I felt the loss of never having a close family that I felt loved me in the way that these characters loved and worried about each other. The second movie had a more traditional family and again I cried. On both nights, I chose to stay with the feelings and just let the tears fall. I haven't cried that hard in a very long time. I realized that writing these articles was the cause of the feelings. They have been building and needed to be released as part of my own forgiveness process.
Forgiveness doesn't just happen once and then you never have to do it again. I can't tell you how many times I have forgiven myself and my abusers. Part of forgiveness, as Adam addresses in his article, is letting go of the blame. Blame doesn't do any good. All blame does is keep you stuck in the abuse. Blame attracts more abusers to you to continue the abuse. Blame keeps you in the victim mode. Blame keeps you holding in the anger or exploding and doing your own verbal abuse to others. I have done both in the past. So, one of the first steps in forgiveness is releasing the need to blame yourself and others.
Next, in my processing about forgiveness, just this week, I ran across my Healing Runes which I haven't used in probably a couple of years to do a reading. I reached in the bag and pulled out three Runes. The first one was Ehwaz. Want to guess what it means? Forgiveness. The second Rune was Algiz which is Boundaries. The third Rune was Jera, Patience. Earlier in the week, I had just decided that one of my future articles would be on Boundaries and I have twice this week told someone that as a Saggittarian, I am not always patient. I had to laugh.
From The Healing Runes written by Ralph H. Blum and Susan Loughan, on page 102-103, I want to share with you what it says.
"A life in transition draws upon forgiveness in order to make peace with the past. Receiving this Rune, you are asked to consider: Who is it that calls out to you for forgiveness? To whom do you call out?
To all of you who find the courage in your heart to forgive those who betrayed you, this Rune brings a blessing.
Forgiving someone who has hurt you, and making amends---these are two faces of forgiveness. This is a third face as well: Consider whether receiving this Rune, at this moment, may be an invitation to extend forgiveness to yourself.
. . . . . . . . It has been said that to cling to resentment is to harbor a thief in your heart. For resentment robs you of your energy, your strength, your peace of mind and, ultimately, your ability to heal. It is not part of our nature to withhold forgiveness. . . . "
This Rune goes on to say that for those who cannot forgive, close the door on the past and get on with living your life. In order to forgive, you must have the courage to face anger and rage and release them. Forgiveness is about "clearing out the old". When we forgive, we then find joy.
I had gone from tears a few nights before to laughter over the "coincidence" of drawing these particular Runes. Do you really believe it was coincidence? I don't. Our inner guidance takes us where we need to be to get in touch with the information we need if we will just pay attention.
The next information came to me from Christine Kane in the form of her article entitled, "HOW DO YOU FORGIVE SOMEONE?" found at http://christinekane.com/blog/how-do-you-forgive-someone . Christine starts out by reminding me that forgiveness has so many different levels. She also says that "people sometimes want to hold on to the idea of themselves as 'victims' of something or someone - they will fight to keep that victim identity alive by fighting any idea that challenges that identity." Christine states that forgiveness and self-responsibility challenge continuing to identify yourself as a victim.
In the middle of all of this, my dad's birthday was on September 9. I felt sad for the father/daughter relationship that we never had. Much of the forgiveness issues that have come up for me over the past two weeks have had to do with me releasing the fairy tale wish that I had grown up in a normal family. Why do we cling to this fairy tale and refuse to let go of it when it just causes us more pain? This is finally the final piece of the puzzle that I have been working on for the past few weeks.
I can release the pain that I was causing myself by not wanting to release this fairy tale image of what my life should have, could have been like if the incest had never happened. This isn't the first time that I have had to release this image from the possibilities that my mind can create. Nothing is going to change the past. I can change my reaction to the past. I can surrender to the feelings and the tears, as I did earlier this week. Then I can chose to release the pain of the past. I can forgive myself for again creating this pain.
Forgiveness allows me to feel compassion for myself. It allows me to move on with my life. Forgiveness allows me to feel without hurting all the time, without sorrow and grief being my constant companions. Forgiveness allows me to grow into the next step of being.
So, my questions to you are, are you ready to give up being a victim? Are you ready to forgive so that you can have a better life? Are you ready to forgive so that you can feel better about who you are? Are you ready to forgive so that you can experience joy instead of hate, peace instead of fear, freedom instead of captivity?
Forgiveness is not for the other person. It is a selfish act that you do for yourself to help you heal. It does not change what was done to you. It does not change the other person. Forgiveness does not say that what was done to you was right or should ever happen to another person. Forgiveness does not change the past. Forgiveness allows you to surrender the hurt that was done to you. Surrendering allows you to wake up to a better day. Forgiveness makes you a stronger, more compassionate person and allows you to start to trust yourself. Do it for you. You deserve it.

12 comments:

Megan over at Imaginif said...

Ummmm...some very pertinant points. Well done. Has given me some food for thought.

Patricia Singleton said...

Megan, thank you. I spent more time with this post than any other. I am glad it made sense. I was difficult pulling all of my thoughts together.

Slade | Shift Your Spirits said...

Patricia,

Great post -- I always love the affirmations you share.

I think of any form of hate as being like a hot coal -- you can't hold, carry, pick up, handle or even throw a hot coal at another person without ensuring that you get burned first.

The person you do or don't forgive may not even be aware of your feelings, one way or the other.

Lisa said...

Thanks so much for commenting on my posting about cognitive dissonance at: http://imaginif.com.au/~ima33724/blog/2007/09/04/what-is-cognitive-dissonance/

As a former foster child and current advocate for young people in and from the foster care system, it's always been very important for me to point out the difference between forgiveness and reconciliation.

Forgiveness takes one person, and as you shared so powerfully in your blog entry, it is freeing and empowering for the forgiver.

Reconciliation takes two people -- and sometimes the other person isn't ready for it. Sometimes the person you are forgiving is unsafe or dangerous.

People tend to expect reconciliation for everyone who forgives -- and that's neither realistic nor in many cases would it be healthy.

Most of us wouldn't expect a battered woman to go back and live with an unrepentant wife beater husband... in that same sense, children who have survived abuse should not feel compelled to reconcile with parents.

But, for personal health, it's important to find a way to forgive the perpetrator.

Patricia Singleton said...

Slade, getting burned by the hot coal is a very appropriate comparison. Thanks for your feedback.

Patricia Singleton said...

Lisa, my husband and I worked as foster parents in 2 different foster homes working with teenage boys back in the late 1980's. I appreciate the work that you do. Thanks for making the destinction between forgiveness and reconciliation. I forgave my dad but he was still not back in my life because he was an alcoholic and given the opportunity would have tried to act out sexually with me or my children. I was not willing to take that chance. Please feel free to stop by or subscribe.

Patricia Singleton said...

My thanks go to Karl Staib for adding this article to his Top 5 Greatest Links of the Week 9/16/07 found at http://www.karlstaib.com/2007/09/16/top-5-greatest-links-of-the-week-91607/

Albert | UrbanMonk.Net said...

Fantastic post Patricia - Forgiveness is truly healing and much needed in our world!

Patricia Singleton said...

Albert, thanks for your words of praise. My next article is called Prelude To Forgiveness.

Patricia Singleton said...

This article has been included in the Carnival of Healing: Healing Body Mind and Soul found at http://reikisisters.blogspot.com/2007/11/carnival-of-healing-110-healing-body.html

Aparna said...

I find it very difficult to forgive people. But after reading through your post, I feel I should learn to forgive and forget.

Patricia Singleton said...

Aparna, thanks for your comment. I am glad that my article has helped you. We truly are the only ones hurt by our unforgiveness. Most of the time, the other person doesn't know or doesn't care that we are upset with them. Unforgiveness can create health problems for us in the places that we hold the emotion in our body. I still have some unforgiveness to do of my own. How do I know this? I am having migraines again since I started writing about my incest issues.