How To Find Forgiveness

There is a reason i haven’t posted much on Dogwood Girl lately. I have been heartbroken. I barely managed to brush my teeth and get the kids where they need to be and hold up my end of meaningless conversations.

I went for a run the other day. It was the worst one i have ever had. It was only supposed to be about 30 minutes and an easy run, but my heart wasn’t in it. Usually, when I run, it helps me de-stress. I think about the things that are bringing me down, or frustrating me, and I come away with a plan for fixing them, or put them in perspective and realize that they just aren’t that important. This problem? This problem just beat me down. I just wanted to cry and scream and lay down in the road. I was just so tired of feeling raw and angry and sad, that I just wanted to lay down and have someone come pick me up so i could sit on my couch, watch Joan of Arcadia (a world of order and obvious purpose), drink wine, and eat peanut butter Bowls of Shame all day.

The things that have been getting me down won’t be so easily put aside by a run.

I am hurt. I am angry. I am resentful and feeling betrayed. I don’t think this is what I was meant to feel in response to the actions of someone else, someone that I love very much. I don’t think that they set out to hurt me. They are just doing their thing, being themselves. But their actions have caused me no small amount of pain, anger, depression, and a very twisted feeling of shame – A sense of “How could i have let someone make me feel this way?” The only thing i can compare this feeling to is the first time you have your heart broken. There is a hopelessness and a sense that nothing will ever be the same again. You vow to yourself that you will never. let it. happen. again.

I should point out here, that this post has nothing to do with my marriage, or romantic love. Things are wonderful with me and Todd. He is everything I ever wanted in a husband (minus the snoring, and maybe could be improved if he enjoyed giving nightly back rubs). This post has to do with trusting someone to be honest, fair and sensitive to the feelings of other. It has to do with being able to put your heart in someone’s hands for years on end, and knowing that they will not crush you. It has to do with having faith in another person that they will do the right thing and then having them live up to that.
It has to do with giving someone your all for 30 + years, buying into something – an idea of honor and tradition and loyalty – because you thought you were some kind of team and you had the same values. It has to do with the fallout when that person turns out to not be who you thought they were, and does not have the same respect for you that you have always given them. It’s about what it feels like when the majority of your life feels like one big huge lie, perpetrated against you in some sick, sick cruel joke.

This is a post about what would have happened if Gone With the Wind had ended differently. What if Gerald O’Hara said, “Why, land is the only thing in the world worth workin’ for, worth fightin’ for, worth dyin’ for, because it’s the only thing that lasts,” to Scarlett her whole sixteen years, and then everyone went to the BBQ and found out the war had started and Gerald had pulled Scarlett aside and said, “Sweetie, I know you aren’t going to like this, but there’s a war comin’ and we better just go ahead and sell Tara now.”

The thing is, though, there is no way out of this situation that will end well. When you are 20 years old and a boy breaks your heart, you can move on. Cutting a person out of your life is not that hard. There is no collateral damage in that situation. You have no responsibilities and can spend every waking moment on a couch in a bar with friends, drinking until the pain is just a blur and then one day you sober up and realize the pain is only a distant memory, and you really didn’t need that person to give you an identity, to help make you who you are.

But what do you do if it’s your family? If you can’t just cut people out of your life like dead weight? This is a post about finding a place for yourself, and your relationships, that you can live with.

Mostly, it is a post about finding forgiveness. How do you find forgiveness when your heart is like a stone in your chest, and the thought of forgiving someone who has so grievously wronged you makes you feel physically ill? How do you heal a sorrow that feels like it will never, ever go away?

Have you ever forgiven someone when you thought you never could? How did you do it? Is there a roadmap for forgiveness? Is there a practical method for finding your way to a place where you don’t feel like a walking, gaping, open fucking wound?

Because I am so not there yet.


  5 comments for “How To Find Forgiveness

  1. Shannon
    May 17, 2010 at 5:00 pm

    First I want to say- love you.
    Forgiveness- this is a hard- especially your family- people who have known for most of your life.
    I will say it starts with you. Be angry, be hurt, be sad- go through all of the emotions you need to go through.
    After that- it comes to a choice, it comes to drawing boundaries as you heal and process, and what you can handle.
    Unfortuantely when we see another side of person we didn’t know who could be a certain way- things change.
    Remind yourself of the supports you have in your life- and use them as you move forward. Always act the best you can be.
    I’m thinking of you. This comment sounds sort of jumbled-so I apologize for my random thoughts- but I went through something similar a couple of years ago- it was hard.
    much love.

  2. Nikki
    May 17, 2010 at 5:11 pm

    I am sorry, Anne. I know this feeling. For what it’s worth, therapy helps.

  3. Jen
    May 17, 2010 at 10:28 pm

    I’m so sorry to hear that you are going through this, Anne. I am hear for you. I’m a good listener and good at creating distractions, too. Whatever it maybe that you need, I hope you know that all you have to do is call.

  4. weremonkey
    May 18, 2010 at 10:44 am

    First of all, I have no idea what has happened to you but I am very sorry you have been hurt like this. I only know my own experience with family and friends.

    I think forgiving someone after a certain amount of time is what to do because it is the only thing that makes sense. Anger does no one any good and feeds on itself until eventually it eats it’s way into everything else in your life.

    That said, you can’t expect that person to ever be the same person you thought they were before. Because that person was not them, not really. And you can never trust them not to repeat the same thing thing that hurt you again… and again.

    Rather, you learn to accept that this is another thing to factor into the relationship and what you can and can not expect from them. Draw limits where it is necessary to and stick by them. Imposing boundaries can actually be very freeing on both sides. Then move on, knowing this is someone you will always have to deal with in your life.

    For instance, I’ve had friends who are alcoholics that I never go to bars with, ever. I have friends that have sexual addiction because of abandonment issues they will never get over and I never introduce them to who I’m involved with, or any of my friends’ husbands. In both cases, I know what they are like, I accept it, and I’m still able to be around them because I know this about them and because I know they have other good qualities – humor, creativity, intelligence, etc. I have some relatives that I will see at every holiday, wedding and funeral but I never let them know where I live or work because they scare me. And I have relatives that will always look down on me but at the end of the day, I have to live my own life because their life would make me miserable or maybe they just don’t know me and will not bother to.

    Still, everyone spends some time on the floor feeling wretched now and then.

  5. May 18, 2010 at 6:05 pm

    Wow, good comments folks. I think that what i learned more than anything is that we ALL are a messed up in our own way.


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