Saturday, October 22, 2011
I come from a long line of people who never forgive others for insults both real and imagined. I have tried to view forgiveness as a gift you give yourself since the other person rarely is losing sleep over what you're lying awake at night seething or hurting over; so forgiving the other person makes your life easier, and allows you to use that energy for something more positive than holding a grudge.
My father was significantly younger than his 3 siblings who were teenagers when he was born in Scotland. His father was a taciturn, cold man who never spoke to children and beat his wife when he drank. My father never did learn why his one sister and his dad didn't speak directly to each other for many years, though they lived in close quarters. She would ask my dad to ask their father to pass the butter and he would do as requested. After their father died, my aunt insisted to the day she died that those years never happened, and that she always loved her father. My own dad hated my tempestuous adolescence, and frequently took my picture out of his wallet, saying he "had no daughter," when our morals clashed. He would put the photo back into his wallet later after my abject apologies, telling me that he would "forgive, but never forget" my transgressions. But I was the one who listened as he unburdened himself before his cancer quieted him, and I was the one who held his hand as he took his last breath. I prayed for him to finally find peace that would allow him to forget his grudges.
My mother came from a large immigrant Polish family, with many siblings older than her since she was 8th out of 10. She was born during the Great Depression, so her father had been laid off and her mother, who spoke no English, took buses and streetcars out to the farms outside of Chicago to pick produce to supplement what was earned by the older kids who dropped out of high school as soon as it was legal, to earn money. My mom's dad doted on her, since she was the only baby he was home to care for. Until she died, one of my mom's sisters resented her for having been "Dad's favorite". He died when my mom was 12, but her sister not only held that grudge, she nurtured it like a prized orchid, encouraging it to grow and flourish; that resentment always seethed under the surface for the next 70+ years.
Though many families are like mine, with a history of one or more members who hold grudges and refuse to forgive others for anything, it has been my observation that the most difficult person to forgive is yourself. I have heard it said that a life lived without regrets hasn't really been lived---that it's the nature of our existence, learning how to live as we do it--that results in the regrets that haunt many a death-bed confession. This we call guilt.
I have lain awake at night reviewing endlessly something that I did or said, that I regret. I have often envied Roman Catholics who can go to Confession and have their sins expiated by a wise counselor who can intervene for them with the final judge: God. They are told what to say and do that will allow them to feel forgiven. Does the deed become undone? The words unsaid? Is the other person's memory wiped? I wish I could do that sometimes.
But as I said earlier, that you forgive because it frees you of the burden of holding a grudge, you must learn to forgive yourself also, to be free of guilt. We don't come with owner's manuals to teach us how to behave. The best we can hope for is that we learn from our mistakes and decide, I won't do/say that again! I don't know if it is just me who finds it harder to forgive myself than to forgive others. I cut other people more slack and hold myself to the highest possible standards. When I was young I wanted to be a doctor so maybe I took the medical motto too much to heart: Do no wrong. I can only hope that there are few people who are unable to forgive me.
And if you feel wronged by me, please tell me so I can make things right...so that both of us can sleep more peacefully, forgiven at last.
When not working long days and nights, Fiona is a slave to the characters who live in her brain and have always told her stories to amuse her. To her delight, after the first book was done she found that writing "The end" meant that group of characters stopped talking...then she learned that others began to shout that it was their turn! That's how her first book turned into a series of 6 books, with another on the way, about the Reyes Family Romances. One book is a free download on Smashwords.com.
She also has a second series started, with 2 books published about the agents who work for a shadowy government agency, hoping they are doing more good than harm when they follow orders.
Find out more about both contemporary erotic romance series' at her website: www.fionamcgier.com.
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It's great to have you as our guest!
I don't envy you your family feuds. But I think your attitude is the only one that's possible - to try oneself to "do no wrong", regardless of what everyone else does.
Good luck with your writing!
One thing that has come to me during the week of posts, especially yours, is how good I've had it compared to what many others have gone through. How much we all want to be loved especially when we're young and how all of that is so fragile and can be so damaged by the people we need to love us and fail us. Sometimes its amazing we're not all more bent up than we are. I think especially of your mother who grew up being loved as a child and must have been so deprived of it as an adult. If I made this world, I would make it differently.
Welcome to the blog, Fiona. Your post is an interesting, sensible addition to the discussion.ReplyDelete
Lisabet and Jean, thanks for the welcome. When Garce asked me to do a guest-blog, I wasn't sure what he expected...or what I should expect. You all always express such personal ideas, closely-held thoughts laid bare for all to read. Often I've read and commented, but more often I've read and thought I had no right to comment, because just reading and knowing about your pain/thoughts seems like such an egregious act of voyeurism, witnessing your vulnerabilities, even though you put them out to be read.ReplyDelete
And Garce, you are right about my Mom. She was totally loved and adored by her Dad, then spent the rest of her life wanting what she had lost. My Dad disappointed her because she thought theirs was a love made in Heaven, like all of the books she devoured by the bagful until her dementia destroyed her eyesight and understanding. But my Dad married her because she was "suitable" and he was tired of making his own dinners. She expected a love that gave life meaning, he wanted someone to clean up after him. I suppose that's why I can still cry so easily when I miss her, because I cry partly for what she wanted but never received. She told my sons in later years that she loved my husband because she knew that he loved me like a woman should be loved. She was right, but knowing that she wasn't jealous, because I was her daughter and she loved me that much, makes me feel guilty and cry more. Such a tangled web of emotions we live in...