Daily Prompt: Forgive and forget?
“She’s 77 years old, in great health, cycles for miles and miles for pleasure, travels, has friends and a boyfriend. 50 years ago her husband had an affair while she was pregnant with their third child. 27 years ago she divorced him, he died seven years ago of cancer. She still holds a grudge against him.“
As Rosy told me this story over a cup of coffee, she went on to talk about her own struggle with learning to forgive. A man she loved dearly had texted her one day to say he was on another continent, that the relationship was over because he wanted to be near his son. He’d given her no indication of his impending move or his plans, and had gone to great lengths to reassure her that all would be well. Although they’d planned to get married, he didn’t even discuss the possibility of her moving with him, didn’t ask her if that’s what she would like to do. The decision was made, according to him and he cut off all contact with her. That was two years ago. Rosy spent many months believing that he would return, it was ‘just a phase’, he was in a bad mood, somebody who loved her so much couldn’t just end the relationship like this. She didn’t want to deal with the pain, so she pretended it wasn’t happening to her. Her knees hurt, she couldn’t work, she refused to travel ( in case he came back), she refused to take any decisions about her life and simply hung around, pretending to work, feeling angry and wronged and very justified in her rage.
She did try to change things but for the wrong reasons, believing that he would return to her if she remained positive and upbeat. It was all about him and not about her. She meditated, did yoga, taught yoga, prayed – but she did all of this sporadically, watching and waiting for the results that never came. The man – back in her life. She didn’t notice how the meditation made her calmer and happier because that wasn’t her aim. Her aim was the man – and he didn’t come. She’d have been better off aiming at being happy, because that was so much easier and within her grasp and control.
She decided to try to forgive him. She’d keep watching for the results of all her forgiveness exercises – was he going to call, text or appear at the door ? When he didn’t all her feelings of forgiveness flew out of the window. She was forgiving with a purpose. The purpose being – to get him back. I told her,
“The truth is Rosy, that you forgive someone for yourself. It isn’t about them. They won’t even know and they may never respond. But when you truly forgive someone you free yourself from them, you free yourself from the incident that so hurt you. By not forgiving, you remain stuck in that place, stuck in that time warp where he’s hurting you again and again. So if you forgive someone, do it just for yourself.”
She laughed mirthlessly.
“ I told you the story of my mother for a reason. Just look at my family history. She can’t forgive a dead man she had three children with even though what he did happened more than 50 years ago.”
“ You can be the one to change the family patterns Rosy.”
“I want to. I certainly want to. I know that what my father did was wrong, but she has gone on and on about it to such an extent that I feel no sympathy for her.”
“You’re sympathetic to your father and you feel sympathy for the guy who left you in the lurch?”
“ I understand his point of view more than my own and I do see that by hanging on to resentment I’m being so much like my mother that I can’t actually stand it.”
“Do you want to be like your mother?”
“Not at all. I don’t want to repeat sad old stories of being cheated on till I am 77. There are better stories to tell one’s children and grandchildren. I’m going to let go of this man’s memory. I’m going to forget. Because that’s what forgiveness is. Forgetting the promises. Forgetting the ensuing betrayal. Forgetting the pain. Forgetting the time spent waiting. I’m going to step forward right now, right here. I’m moving into a different dimension.”
This was written for the Daily Prompt from the Daily Post https://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/12/21/prompt-forgive/ and it came at a time when I was struggling with a story that had been told to me and that had taken root in my emotions.
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