"Dare To Forgive" by Edward M. Hallowell, M. D., Health Communications, Inc., Deerfield Beach, Florida, 2004, page 72:
Dr. Hallowell called his plan for forgiveness a practical method. He lists the steps as acts in a play.
Act 1: "pain: feeling wronged and wondering what to do."
Act 2: "reliving what happened and reflecting on it, using your beliefs, intelligence and imagination to help guide you. Ask yourself, What do I want this pain to turn into? "
Act 3: "wrestling within yourself, or with others, as you heal, working your way past anger and resentment to a peaceful place."
Act 4: "taking stock and moving forward."
I am reading several books on forgiveness. I rarely only read one book at a time. I am like a sponge needing to absorb all that I can on a subject before I take time to reflect on what I have read. Then I either take it in and make it mine or if it doesn't work for me, I let it go.
Another quote that I want to share with you is from the book, "Opening our Hearts, Transforming our Losses" written by Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, 2007, page 66:
"Forgiveness does not mean we forget the past. Nor does it mean we accept repeated mistreatments. After all, many of us have learned valuable lessons from our past that helped shape who we are today. Eventually, however, the burden of carrying around our pain can take its toll on us. If we're finding it hard to forgive, we might still be in pain. If this is the case, we might benefit from allowing ourselves more time to heal before we even begin to think about forgiveness.
Ultimately forgiveness is an action we take to free ourselves from the pain we've been carrying. Forgiveness creates space in our lives for our own healing. In fact, forgiveness can be an important step in taking care of ourselves. We can forgive and rebuild our damaged relationships, or we can forgive and still choose to distance ourselves from certain people who continue to be abusive.
When we think about forgiveness, we also consider those mistakes we have made for which we'd like to make amends. Perhaps we have neglected to see our parents as people with their own challenges. After all, many of our parents grew up in alcoholic homes too, having faced many of the same experiences we faced. Or perhaps we've been clinging to our resentments. If we've been emotionally withholding in an effort to punish someone else for their past mistakes, we may have amends to make.
Having empathy for our parents' struggle doesn't mean we excuse or accept abusive behavior. When it comes to forgiveness, we can love someone and still hold them accountable for their behavior. We can have compassion for the alcoholic and other family members even if we hate the effects of the disease of alcoholism on our lives."
I know that is a lot of quoting. Thank you for staying with me through all of those words. The words from the experts and two different sources show you what has worked for me in my recovery long before I read either of these books. I support the information because I know it works if you are willing to do your own work of recovery.
In forgiving my father, I wasn't able to allow him back into my life. He was still an active alcoholic. My mother never left my life. She lived with my family and me for 14 years during which time, I was going to Al-Anon and Adult Children of Alcoholics meetings and Incest counseling, getting in touch with my anger and other feelings and learning about forgiveness and what it meant to me. She only asked why I was going to meetings once and she didn't pursue my answer to find out why. She asked but she didn't really want to know. My mother had her own unresolved issues that she wasn't willing to look at so she couldn't deal with my issues either. Instead she held in her own anger and fears and they affected her happiness and her health causing heart problems which eventually killed her.
Why am I again working on forgiveness? Because I don't want to die from a heart condition like my mother did. Because I know that forgiving will bring me relief and release from the pain of hating and anger. In order to be happy, I will forgive others and myself for real and imagined transgressions. In order to be free, I will forgive. Can you forgive the people in your life who have harmed you? Tell me or someone else about it. It truly helps to share our pain. Besides, it is Step 2 above provided by Dr. Hallowell.