Sunday, September 14, 2008

Dare To Forgive

"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.
Patricia

13 comments:

Eileen R. Borris-Dunchunstang said...

Patricia, thank-you for your words about forgiveness. You send a very important message to so many people. Forgiveness is about your own inner healing, letting go of your pain so you can lead a more peaceful life. Having said that the message that is really important is that you can forgive someone but that doesn't mean you have to be in a relationship with them, especially if it is an abusive one. I think it is very important to be able to walk in someone elses shoes so we can learn about empathy and compassion. This is a way in which we can heal our own anger. I too have written a book on forgiveness which includes a process in how to forgive. It includes many inspiring stories of people who under very difficult circumstances have been able to forgive and as a result have done extraordinary things. These stories can touch your heart as your story can touch so many other people. I have a lot of respect for you.

Dr. Eileen Borris-Dunchunstang
author of "Finding Forgiveness"
www.dreileenborris.com

Slade | Shift Your Spirits said...

Patricia,

This is SO timely! Lately, I've been contemplating the relationship between forgiveness and healing... I'm not quite at the point where I can articulate it, but your post gives me a lot more to think about.

Thank you!
Slade

Patricia Singleton said...

Eileen, thank you for your comment and for making me aware of your book.

Patricia Singleton said...

Slade, I am glad that I can be of help to you. I will look forward to reading your article.

Phil Gerbyshak said...

Wow Patricia, this one sure hit me right where I am. I especially love this quote from you: "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."

We forgive people so WE can heal, not so they can. If we accept that, then WE can heal, get better, whatever. If we don't, we are hurting ourselves.

Thank you. This post has blessed me greatly, and will be shared with everyone I know.

Phil Gerbyshak said...

OK, so I re-read, and I see the words I previously quoted are not yours, but they are STILL so very powerful.

I love how your close: "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."

Forgiveness = freedom. OK, I get that. And I am working on it. I have a lot of forgiveness to get right.

Thank you Patricia. Regardless of who said what, this post is outstanding and is making me think hard.

Patricia Singleton said...

Phil, you are very welcome. I have been writing about forgiveness lately because it is what I am working with and reading about.

Patricia Singleton said...

Phil, usually I don't do as many quotes in my articles as I did with this one but the information was so good that I wanted to include all of the paragraphs that I was reading. Making others think is part of why I am sharing my journey through my blog writing. So thank you for telling me that.

Patricia Singleton said...

Eileen, I just found the time to check out your website and your book. When I purchased "Dare To Forgive", I also purchased your book, "finding forgiveness". I purchased your book because of the subtitle which says, "A 7-Step Program for Letting Go of Anger and Bitterness." When I saw your book on your website, I went and found my copy that is still waiting to be read.

Jenny said...

A very well expressed post! It brings up some great points, but what do you do when you are ready to forgive, but the person or persons you want to forgive don't even think they did anything wrong and you were the one who was wrong? Plus it's not as if I still talk to them any more anyway. Forgiveness is a tricky thing, some people see it as approval to go on the way things were, but it's up to us to not let them. Thank you for bringing this subject up!

Patricia Singleton said...

Jenny, thank you. I never told my dad face to face that I forgave him. The day he died he was still an alcoholic and sexual predator. I told his Higher Self that I forgave him when I was standing next to him in his hospital room a year and a half before he died. If I had said the words out loud, it would have started my dad saying that he had never done anything wrong. He never once admitted to doing anything wrong. That would have been nice if he could have said the words but they weren't necessary for me to forgive him. The forgiveness was a releasing of my anger and hurt. The forgiveness was for me, a releasing of the past so that it wouldn't continue to affect my body, mind and future.

Hémorroïdes said...

I think it's important what you quoted about that when it comes to forgiveness, we can love someone and still hold them accountable for their behaviour.

Patricia Singleton said...

Hemorroides, being able to love the abuser and still hold the abuser accountable for their behavior is very important to me too. It is what finally allowed me to forgive my parents. It took away my confusion and hatred.