does forgiving someone put a burden on them?

(11 Posts)
LifeIsGoodish Mon 30-May-16 12:19:02

This is not about religion, BTW. I am not Christian, neither are the people I'm referring to.

I told some relatives recently that I had forgiven them for things that had happened in our shared past. These are relatives with whom I have had a loving but tempestuous relationship. They and I know that we have all had shortcomings and done things that we later regretted. The difference being that they have either come to terms with it or put it behind them. I, OTOH, have only understood and come to terms with it in recent years.

For my own emotional well-being I needed to address the change in my feelings. For so many years I resented them for the way I felt that they had failed me. I don't feel that way any more; I now understand that they did the best they could at the time with the information they had and the emotional skills they had.

I told them this. It came up naturally in a conversation where we would normally have skimmed lightly across the surface and then avoided the potentially painful (for me!) issue. I told them that it doesn't change the past, if anything my forgiveness strengthens my love and respect for them that I finally feel I understand some of what they went through.

They now seem to think that they should feel guilty because I needed to forgive them. That forgiveness implies guilt. I seem to have opened scan of worms. Did I do wrong? Should I have kept my change of heart private?

Forgiveness is complicated. It sounds as if you have come to a good place for you. Other people are on their own journey. You weren't to know how they would react so with 20/20 hindsight it might have been better not to say anything but you are where you are and unless you were planning to guilt trip them(and it doesn't sound like you were) then don't get pulled into the drama.

TiredOfSleep Mon 30-May-16 12:58:22

Well if you felt the need to forgive, they presumably did something that warranted it. The fact they didn't feel guilty at the time suggests doesn't negate that.

Telling them now leading them to feel guilty either means once they look back they understand the emotional harm they caused you, or they're nicer people now and don't like knowing they caused you pain.

Either way, it's their problem. I have been in a similar situation with my parents where I've had to forgive them for how they behaved when I was teen and early twenties. I chose not to tell them as they were oblivious to how wrongly they acted and didn't feel it would help anyone by telling them.

LifeIsGoodish Mon 30-May-16 13:05:25

I don't think they ever felt guilty about it before. I know that they felt bad because their best was not good enough, but that's different to feeling guilty.

AlanPacino Mon 30-May-16 13:42:36

Yeah it's tricky isn't it. I'm wondering how I would feel If someone told me they forgave me. If I was gonna have this conversation I probably would avoid the word 'forgive' as it sounds pious. I would just say a vague 'we're all doing the best we can with what we've got' which acknowledges our own shortcomings

mathsmum314 Mon 30-May-16 23:50:14

Genuine forgiveness comes from inside. If you feel the need to tell them, then you have to ask yourself why? Why did you tell them? What were you hoping to achieve? Maybe it was subconscious but there is something else going on here, its possible you wanted to put a burden on them, make it public you were taking the moral high ground, or just wanted to rub some salt in the wound.

Real forgiveness is private. So without more info it sounds like you deliberately wanted to make them feel guilty.

annandale Tue 31-May-16 00:04:53

I do always feel that if someone tells me they forgive me, it implies that I was 100% at fault, whereas in this situation you are at least trying to see it as mistakes you both made... or do you, in fact, feel that they are the ones at fault?

It would be fine for someone to say they forgave me if I'd apologised already.

FATEdestiny Tue 31-May-16 00:31:18

If I felt desperately sorry then I would be grateful for forgiveness being voiced.

If I did my best, knew my best wasn't as good as others could do but was the best I could do - then I would find someone saying they forgive me in this situation very mean.

If I did my best but my best wasn't as good as others could do then I would find acknowledgment better than forgiveness - that the other person knew I did my best in the situation.

Earlybird Tue 31-May-16 00:47:58

Do you or they think they have something to apologise for? Maybe that is where the guilt comes in. Even if they didn't fail you intentionally, you have now made them aware of how big an impact they had on you, and whether on purpose or not, they came up short.

Perhaps your forgiveness shed a whole new light on a situation from the past, and they are now struggling to understand and come to terms with what happened (and their part in it).

springydaffs Thu 21-Jul-16 21:10:25

Hmm ... even the forgiveness has ended up being all about them!

It was probably better you didn't mention you'd forgiven them. Some people just don't have the emotional maturity to deal with something like this.

So you've learnt a key lesson about this person. You'll know what to do in future. iiwy I'd say something bland like you were thinking too deeply about the past and for them to forget it - and change the subject. Get them off your back, basically.

Well done for getting to a place of forgiveness - it's not easy and you've done it.

springydaffs Thu 21-Jul-16 21:12:35

btw there's no way in a million years I could tell my mother I had forgiven her. She is desperately emotionally fragile and wouldn't be able to take it. The guilt would probably kill her (not exaggerating).

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