My Answer: Who Do You Need To Forgive?
Thank-you for your responses to my question: who do you need to forgive and why?
We are told that this is the ‘most wonderful time of the year’ yet for many reasons, my spirit feels heavy. Our blue sky has disappeared. Far worse, people have died, lost homes and businesses as a result of the bushfires. There is no rain in sight. Across the ocean, a natural disaster has ensured that some families will mourn while we are supposed to be in the festive season.
My good friend Sarah puts it well:
“Christmas is like living in a snow globe. Tensions can flare and old hurts can rise and everyone can feel pretty shaken and vulnerable at the same time as wanting the pretty scene.”
Another contributor, Diana, talks about a problem that occurs more frequently than we acknowledge:
“My siblings hurt me badly when they engaged a lawyer to keep me from benefitting from my mum’s will even though I had been her carer for almost fourteen years. One day I may be able the reach the point of forgiveness but I am not ready (yet).”
As for me, I’ve recently been on the end of some criticism that I felt was undeserved. The old desire to get back at this person on the one hand or set them straight on the other, has my brain doing thought-flips. It makes me feel anything but relaxed or festive.
And what does forgiveness really mean? Tim Goodsall asks.
I think of forgiveness as an act of compassion where you aim higher than your thoughts and feelings would have you target. Sometimes action requires the passage of time. Sometimes, you cannot bring yourself to do it. At any time, you have to live with your choice. A good question to ask yourself, as I am asking myself at the moment, is:
“Can I live with this state of mind?”
At vulnerable times like this, I lay down safety nets. I increase self-care and try to keep connections open so that I don’t feel isolated.
On the matter of family disagreements after the death of a parent, I believe it’s important to start those conversations early, and preferably with the parent. Too often we think talking about estates is a taboo subject. Death comes to us all. Consult. Listen. Be your best self. Bring together, don’t split apart. Be fair. Be generous.
If I can return more specifically to the subject of forgiveness, Sarah has some great of advice:
“Forgiveness is an action.
I’ve often used this little analogy with clients and in my own mind, that the painful thoughts are making a groove like on a vinyl record. To stop falling into those old dreadful scenarios that can play out over and over – both in reality and in memories – I need to make a new groove.
This takes practise and the more I do that, the more I forgive , the easier it is to fall into the new mind space where I can breathe and relax. It doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten what happened it just means I choose not to carry it anymore.”
Or there’s Angela’s forthright approach:
“I don’t need to forgive anyone. In fact, I’m over the whole power-based concept of forgiveness. Growing up Catholic I was forever told I was a sinner and unworthy and must seek forgiveness. To die without confessing your mortal sins meant eternal damnation.”
To be honest with you, writing this post has lifted my spirits. I know who I have to forgive but in the meantime, I’m grateful that by reflecting and contributing we can help each other a little bit.
Thank-you all for your great insights.