Tuesday, September 22, 2009

On Forgiveness

*This blog entry is dedicated to Holly wherever you may be.*

Forgiveness is not something I extend to others without being asked for it. Nor is it something that I "do" for the sake of my own well-being.

Until I was able to accept the premise of the basic humanity of all human beings on this earth, I was unable to forgive either my self or those people who came seeking my forgiveness. Nor was I able to ask forgiveness of those I had wronged by my actions.

Within my own way of being, forgiveness is conditional upon several things. The biggest thing is that the behavior that causes the injury has to stop. When I go to a human being seeking forgiveness and then repeat the action that I am seeking forgiveness for, I am making a mockery. Inherent to the admission of my wrong-doing is a promise that I will stop doing the wrong thing. Likewise, when someone seeks me out and asks for my forgiveness, my forgiveness is predicated upon the condition that they will quit doing the thing that they are asking forgiveness for.

I also don't do blanket forgiveness. I endorse the direct approach. When I cause injury to another human being, I don't expect to be forgiven without asking. Nor do I forgive others unless I am asked. I am not obligated to forgive anyone who is not seeking my forgiveness. Some people do not want it. In the same vein, I am responsible to seek out those from whom I want forgiveness. My rapist has never sought me out to ask for my forgiveness for his actions. Nor have I sought him out to ask for his forgiveness because I remained actively pissed off at him for a number of years. I don't know where he is today. My sincere hope is that he is rotting in a prison cell somewhere, cut off from his access to women.

The man who rammed my car into a house causing my traumatic brain injury did ask for my forgiveness in court before his sentencing to a year in county. As long as he remains a non-driver, I am willing to forgive the part of him that did not know any better. Once he starts a car and drives off, my forgiveness is instantly terminated. I am not in touch with this man so I have no way of knowing whether or not he made good on his promise to surrender his driver's license. I only hope he has for the sake of drivers everywhere.

My mother has never acknowledged her physical and emotional abuse of me as a child and teen. She may not ever. I am not obligated to forgive her. She continues to play her mind games. In the interest of my own health and well-being, I limit my time and involvement with her. I don't dwell on the past history that my mother and I have between us. (Therapy helped me heal from that). I do protect my self from further harm. On the other hand, my step-father did make his amends. He was in a hospital bed in I.C.U. and he thought he was going to die. He said he was sorry that things were difficult between us when I was younger. I forgave him. He didn't die then, but the forgiveness stuck. Our relationship for the remaining years of his life changed for the better.

And finally, I consider some things to be "too big" to forgive. Those things which fall under that category are extraordinary events such as rape, systemic abuse, and arson. I am not Superwoman. I am no saint. I am an average human being.

To wrap this up, there is one human being that I am no longer in touch with whose forgiveness I seek. Holly from Jersey City, if you happen upon this blog, I am sincerely sorry for getting the other summer day camp kids started on calling you "four-fingered Holly." That was mean. I knew better at the time but I did it anyways. I didn't have the guts to apologize when you bolted off the van that day and I didn't have the guts to stop doing it. I don't know where you are now or what you are doing. I have no way of finding you. Instead I write these words. It is to you that this blog entry is dedicated.

sapphoq healing t.b.i.


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    - Peter Ingestad, Sweden

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