Afraid to Forgive

Today I had a very intense therapy session. It was good on many levels, we spoke of quite a few things one of them being about me being able to forgive myself. Now before anyone starts to wonder why on earth I would forgive myself as I haven’t done anything wrong; that is what society has taught us and I am starting to learn the importance of forgiving ourselves.

“If we forgave them, we believe we would b e betraying ourselves and negotiating or minimizing the impact of pain they caused us. Obviously, when seen in this light, forgiveness is unlikely to top the list of priorities in our lives”

The above describes how I have lived my life; to realize I don’t want this and to accept the path to freedom from the pain within means I will learn to live with acceptance that things are what they are; that no matter what or who was there for me growing up, forgiving myself of the pain and fear I feel inside, will allow me to embrace a path of peace.

However, to start to heal within, the fear of opening up Pandora’s Box will send me plunging into an emotional abyss, force me to relive unpleasant experiences and admit how badly I was hurt again. This reason one way or another, quite possibly means I am afraid to forgive, and honestly as I said to my therapist, I am.

We explored this realization a bit.

My life has been mostly of hurt, anger, frustration, drama, emotional tug of wars, and so the layers are convoluted and the history is deep. My fear of forgiving me, would mean that I would have nothing to hold on to. As bizarre as that sounds, the drama, the weeds upon vines holding my legs and wrapping themselves around me, are what have been keeping me where I have been for a very long time. Its familiar, its painful, but more importantly, its what I know. 

As I said in therapy, the revelations I have from time to time, I visualize tearing the vine and tossing to the left where the other levels have been removed; a path that much more developed, but there are more vines, and more weeds.  I’m sure there will be more illusions, that will be worked through as they come up.

  • The illusion that if this hadn’t happened, you’d have a “perfect” life. Not forgiving provides an invaluable explanation or excuse for anything and everything that is wrong with you and your life.
  • The illusion of being good. Not forgiving helps you define who you are. You are the victim of some injury or injustice. Although this may make you feel less loveable and capable than non victims, you are comforted nonetheless by the fact that you are one of the good guys – since the people who hurt you are obviously the bad guys. Once you forgive the world can never be defined in such black and white terms.
  • The illusion of power. Not forgiving helps you compensate for the powerlessness you felt when you were hurt.
  • The illusion that you won’t be hurt again.By keeping the pain alive and your guard up, you reduce the risk of ever again being rejected, deceived, abused, betrayed or otherwise injured.

I have thought and felt all of these.

I want to learn how to let go of the pain and make peace with the past. I want to live my life in a complete fulfilling manner. This is going to take work. I know there are pieces that are really going to be hard to find forgiveness with. But, I’m grateful for my therapist, and my support groups that will help pick me up when I stumble.

What I do know is this:

  1. I don’t want to hold grudges and harbor bitter or resentful feelings towards my parents or siblings – refusing to speak to them or having strained relationships with them at best. 
  2. I want treat people differently from the way I was treated as a child but finding myself hitting, screaming, nagging or doing and saying many of the same things my parents did or said to me.
  3. The emptiness I have felt inside, filling the emptiness with overeating, transporting and shopping when exhausted.
  4. The walls I have built around me to keep people from getting close enough to hurt me, only to discover that I am trapped behind those very walls, feeling lonely, isolated and alienated.
  5. I want to be able to feel whole. I may not know quite what it is.

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