An Online Self-Test on Forgiveness

The question of the day: What is love?

Forgiving her and him and them and me ....

I hope that visitors here have looked at the articles on forgiveness at the links in the previous posts. Even if you don't think of youself as the one who feels a need to understand forgiveness, these articles have something to offer. I got a lot out of reading them.

My daughter has gone to the extent of calling me a fraud and a liar because in my journal/blog begun on I have said that I don't understand why we are estranged. I had felt mystified. She is convinced that I had full understanding of why we are estranged.

In the recent argument with me in response to the Listening post on LiveJournal, she began to list things that happened in 1995 and 1996 as being the reasons why we are estranged. This is in addition to the reason she gave in email sent to me last fall. That reason given in the email was that she did not like me, love me or find me appealing.

Now I no longer would say that I don't know why we are estranged. However, I am surprised and saddened that these are the reasons that she gives for having estranged herself from me. I had thought that there must be something else, something more meaningful, something that could make sense to me. However, her lack of love makes perfect sense of all the rest. Why would anyone go to any trouble for someone whom they did not love?

Everyone makes their own decisions. Different things that people do bother another person in different degrees. Some people let everything roll off their back. Others are insulted if their father refuses to buy a house in their own neighborhood. I know someone who said he stopped talking to his father over that. Some people are very prickly. Some are like the princess in the story of the Princess and the Pea.

I was mystified as to why we were estranged because I didn't think that the things that had happened between us were serious enough to make a decision like that. They seemed too petty to estrange someone whom you love. There were other options, even if she was furious at me. Even if I couldn't and can't understand where the fury was coming from, there were other options. Relationships between people who love each other are worth some effort. But if someone doesn't love me, then it makes more sense that she wouldn't and won't put in any effort.

Now she is estranged from her stepmother whom I have never been introduced to and don't know. And she is almost estranged from her father whom I did know and was married to for 18 years. I didn't want to be married to him any more but I never thought that he would be estranged from our daughter. I would love to hear his side and his wife's side of the story. I have read my daughter's side online.

Going back to thoughts on forgiveness, the concept of forgiveness is an important one. It relates not just to the obvious of one person forgiving another for a hurtful action. It extends also to forgiving those who can't forgive. It extends to forgiving ourselves for making mistakes, for not being perfect, for not being all knowing. I think Mandela made a good point when he said that "Resentment is like taking poison in the hope of killing your enemies."

My husband and I sometimes talk about the act of forgiving when we're watching a TV documentary where someone forgives the perpetrator of a terrible crime against them. My husband is always appalled at the idea of forgiving a murderer, a violent criminal, a rapist. I am less appalled and understand the concept although don't know if I could do it if I were in the same position as the victim. I have thought many times that I would like to throw the switch when the time came to put certain criminals to death.

Of the two of us, my husband is the one who tends to be more forgiving in his actions towards others if not in words. I am the one who tends to hold a grudge although I am not a particularly judgmental person. It takes something serious to get me riled so much that I really want to cut someone off.

I have thought many times about forgiving my ex-husband for a number of things. It has been really hard to bring myself to forgive him in my heart. There have been many consequences from things he did and didn't do. I have been very angry at him for a long long time. I was married to him for 18 years and after leaving him realized how much I didn't know him. It surprises me that I was in such denial about him. I was naive.

Can I forgive him? I have wanted to forgive him. The consequences of his actions have been so hurtful. I hope that my desire to forgive him is a beginning to forgiving him. I think I'll get to that point one of these days, the point of being able to say that I forgive him and mean it. I would like him to forgive me for my having hurt him. Perhaps he has but can't tell me. I don't think I'll ever know. He may not want my forgiveness but I would like to forgive him anyway. Forgiving him wouldn't make us friends. I don't need to be friends and I don't want to be enemies.

I forgave both of my parents for all the stuff that happened when I was a child. They were their own worst enemies and I am happy that I haven't had to live in the shoes of either of them. They weren't my enemies. They were so caught up in their respective miseries and bad habits that they couldn't be good parents. They were two of the most unhappy people I've ever met. I have felt sorry for them both. My father died in 1988. My mother is alive. Even though I forgive her for everything, I don't want to have contact with her because she never changes and I've had enough bad treatment. I forgive her for this but I don't want to subject myself to it any more. I wish she could restrain herself. I accept that she can't.

I forgive my daughter for not being able to forgive me for things that made her angry. I forgive her even if she doesn't want my forgiveness or think that she's done anything to merit needing forgiveness. I forgive her. This doesn't mean that I want our estrangement to be over. Because of how she feels and how she has acted towards me, perhaps estrangement is the best solution for both of us. I will always love her. I might not always like her but I will always love her.

She wants me to apologize but I have been there and done that and now it feels like that old cartoon with Lucy pulling the football away as Charlie Brown goes to kick it and then he falls on his back. Every year Lucy did that. In this case I feel like I would be playing the part of Charlie Brown and I'm not going to run and try to kick that football one more time. At least not the way she wants me to.

I will apologize here for the following ... for not knowing how to react to her anger in 1995 and 1996 in a way that would make her less angry. I am sorry for not knowing what to do and how to do it. It is possible that if I did know the answer to that question, I wouldn't be WILLING to do it. I don't know. But maybe I am just not wise enough and there was a way that we could have had a continuing relationship. Would it have been a good one? I don't know that either.

I forgive her for estranging herself from me. I am sure that she thinks that it is the best solution. From my point of view I am thinking currently that she is right. At least as long as she feels the way that she feels. I don't need people who don't love me to try to love me. Someone loves me or they don't. When the person is a daughter, it is important. I would prefer that she stay away from me if she doesn't love me. But I forgive her for not loving me.

For myself, I forgive myself for being naive, for sometimes being downright stupid, for not being all knowing, for being human, and for not knowing what to do ten years ago. I wish I were a wiser woman who knew how to get along with everyone all the time but I forgive myself for not being that. I don't know if even the Dalai Lama is capable of getting along with everyone all the time. Somehow I think he is capable of forgiving himself if he doesn't.



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