Friday, February 22, 2008

Forgive and Be Free

As the spouse of an alcoholic, I know I can be free by forgiving. Forgiving does not mean I put up with nonsense or said another way, crap, of another person. It means something very different than most people think "forgiveness" actually means.

Let me tell you as honestly as I can, how immature I was (and still am) regarding the word, and the embodiment of "forgiveness."

I used to think that forgiveness meant- that forgiveness made me the bad guy. And made the other person "correct" or "OK" with their actions. I said "used to think" in the last sentence. Let me correct that. I don't want to seem I am above and beyond anyone here. And I certainly don't want to fool myself. So, the truth is, I still think this way sometimes when my past programming rises up and takes control, and I react, usually because I hurt or feel pain, because I feel someone did something to me.

But, this is important, this definition of forgiveness, to recognize how many of us in society think or believe forgive actually means. This definition of forgiveness; "making me wrong and the other person right" is why I had a hard time letting go. I know I wasn't wrong (at least sometimes). I didn't want to be wrong. Therefore, I would not forgive. So, I carried this "thing" around called "resentment."

I think resentment causes me to put on special sunglasses as I go about life. It causes me to filter out reality and causes me to seek out or look for "who might be trying to do something to me." This filtering out - actually makes me behave differently toward others - which actually attracts people to actually do something to me. It is a weird phenomenon. The thing I am trying to avoid, I actually attract, by sending out "signals" in terms of how I talk, hold eye contact (or lack thereof), move, etc. Why? Because my mind is focused on what I don't want. And I send neuro-transmitters through my brain and body. This is going too deep here - but in psychology this phenomenon has several names and terms, this "filtering" and "attracting." The term I will use that I personally like is "self-fulfilling prophecy" which if we can really get that concept, can dramatically change our lives forever.

But, as I say, I digress. This is a post on forgiveness, so I will get back on it!

Real Forgiveness - The More Mature Thinking
Real forgiveness is a completely selfish act. Now before you fly off the handle about "selfish," this word too, can be a positive word. We should be more "selfish" as long as we are not doing something to try to wound another or injure/harm. Selfish is OK. It is thinking about us, ourselves, which we rarely do, as spouses/parents of addicts.

Real forgiveness has nothing to do with the other guy being right or us being right. It has nothing to do with "letting them off the hook."

Forgiveness - to forgive - is about you and I clearing our resentments of the past. It is about freeing ourselves from the mistakes we have made. Because don't we beat ourselves up sometimes? And this leads to guilt and/or resentment.

Forgiveness is a selfish act, in that if used properly, it is about letting ourselves go free of regret, remorse, resentment, and stopping ourselves from replaying the negative events in our mind over and over again. And it is the beginning of eliminating the question we may be asking ourselves in our mind that cannot be answered. It is the question of; "If only . . . " And that question, which really isn't even a question, but a statement of regret.

I read to you from Robert Anthony. I read this last night and I thought, "Wow. How appropriate."

"To the degree that you cannot forgive, whether it be yourself or someone else, you perpetuate lack and limitation in your life. You hold back.

Many people don't want to forgive others. They say things like: "Why should I let them off the hook after what they did?" The enemy is someone who you think can take from you or harm you. People harm you through yourself. Actually, they don't harm you at all. You just give them the instructions on how to treat you and they follow through.

When we deal with forgiveness we tend to think that we must forgive because someone has done something to us. It is difficult for many people to realize that people haven't done anything to you. When you finally realize that you've done it to yourself by your responses to them then you are free of it. You are free because you're not holding onto the person as a source of your problem."

The italics are from Dr. Robert Anthony.

What struck me last night and it still strikes me, is; "We just give them the instructions on how to treat you and they follow through."

I think Dr. Robert Anthony was writing his books for me when I first stumbled upon them over 15 years ago. The words are so powerful. What I like about his writings is that I see how Al-Anon and his writings are so interconnected - because the "control" that he and Al-Anon foster is control over your thinking and therefore over your feelings. It has nothing to do with "people out there," which of course, you cannot change. It forces you to work on yourself, the only thing you can change.

I hope this post makes sense to you this day, Friday. I think this is one of my favs. I hope you like it as much as I had writing it.

May your weekend be a blessing.

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By the way, I deleted my first message from someone yesterday. You may have noticed this in an earlier post. To disclose to you this; it was from "someone" who is facing some problems with AA people. I think he thought this was an AA blog. He invoked a HP to his cause and also said he was the HP. He may strike again. Do not respond to his invocations. I wish you peace.

PS - We have a topic for this weekend's Online Meeting. Please see the post below (or click here). Ashley is hosting the Weekend Meeting. I will be sending out an invitation at around 5PM eastern time with Ashley's Topic. So please don't respond to her writing in the comments yet. She will have her own blog page all weekend as we did before. And if you wish to host a weekend meeting let me know! We have another volunteer for the week after! So this is great!

8 comments:

MICKY said...
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MICKY said...
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MICKY said...
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Syd said...

I agree that we have to forgive ourselves. Forgiveness of others is ultimately for me. I can't ask anyone but the HP to forgive me.

Anonymous said...

Good Morning All,

I have several thoughts here, hope I can convey without going way off course, which is easy for me to do sometimes.....

In my work around my boundaries, I have found that it is much easier to forgive after the fact, than in the present.

I guess the best way to make sense of all this, is that with her no longer in the house, and the relationship over, it is easier for me to forgive because it's in my past, not my present. I find that in forgiving, it takes the power away from that person, and gives me the power to move forward, and focus on making me a better person.

When I was engaged in the daily drain of the relationship, it was many times the "Boy Crying Wolf", me forgiving and then watching all play out again, it was like a bad re-run that was on every channel I switched to. It just didn't change, therefore, why forgive when it is never going to change until they decide to change it?

My forgiveness didn't mean anything to her, and honestly didn't mean anything to me. It didn't change the situation, so I simply had to just look the other way, and try to find some sanity of my own.

Keep in mind it always takes two to tango, and I am sure that I contributed in multiple ways in the break up, because I am a pretty head strong guy.

Forgiveness. I have set her free, with no remorse. It has provided me vision, and the desire of action, concentrated on me, and is changing me into a much healthier, understanding, compassionate, and loving person. I am free of a heavy heart, and man, it is a refreshing new way to live!

Peace this Friday Morning. The best to all this weekend.

KevinB

Anonymous said...

Here was what i was trying to share...

I can forgive... But I won't forget...

That's where I'm at right now.

KevinB

Anonymous said...

Joe,
I totally get what you are saying here. Still having trouble forgiving a family member for the things she has said to me. Also someone else for the mean things he said to me, and the more I talk about it to get relief the more I attract it into my life, or give the other person the instructions for doing the same thing to me as others...wow Profound...I've heard it shared before but it's good to be reminded again.

I forgive too but don't forget....not so sure that's real healthy for me either becasue then I anticipate that behavior to return. uggggg....I could spin on this all day. Do you suppose God forgets after he forgives? I think it says he does...maybe today I can practice forgetting too.

Sobergirl

Laurie said...

Forgive and forget. That's how I was raised and that's what I endeavor to do. I don't have a lot of difficulty forgiving because ultimately I WANT to believe in the good of the other person. Gullible. Or niave. Often the apology means nothing to me, however I know down deep (at least with my husband) that the offense is not intentional. So I can and do forgive. And I've also been told I'm too nice...rambling, sorry.

Forgetting. That's the next step. It's the harder one for me. I "forget" in that I don't "use it against them" or "throw it back at them" but it's stored in my memory. How can these things not be? My father left our family when I was a child and now I forgive him for what he did (even though he never asked for forgiveness), but I haven't forotten. How could some of these things we experience be forgotten?

I believed that God wants us to forgive and forget and that He does the same...but what about judgement day when we are all held accountable for our actions? Then what about "He keeps no records of wrongs"...maybe too religuous here and if so I apologize. Just thoughts. I do think there's a balance between forgiving and forgetting and the best thing we can do for ourselves is to do both. And seek forgiveness from God or our HP.