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Forgiveness.

(19 Posts)
DonnaMoss Sun 21-Jun-15 20:36:39

My db, my dm and myself have been nc with my father for 13 years. He was an emotionally abusive narcissistic alcoholic and we are all very happy to not have him in our lives. I was 18 the last time i saw or spoke to my father and since we have been nc, I have married, bought a home and had children. I'd like to think my mum is proud of me, we have a great relationship and my db is lovely also. I am carrying the scars from my childhood, I have low self esteem, I struggle to speak up for myself and panic at the thought of confrontation. I guess that's what you get when you tiptoed on eggshells for your entire childhood.
Anyway, I'm getting to the point in my life where actually I don't really think about F too much anymore, the odd random memory might pop up or today for instance I have wondered where he is and if he's thought about us. But it's not the heavy dark cloud above my head that it was for such a large part of my 20's. My db and I have spoken openly in the past about the abuse we suffered and it has bought us closer I believe but today he said something that surprised me which I have never really considered before - He forgives F. Db feels that he can achieve more in his life if he's free of his demons and forgiving F is the way to do this. I said i think that's great for him and we all have to manage and cope as best we can of course, but is it wrong that I don't want to do the same?
I kind of feel that if I forgive him I'm letting him off and I don't think he deserves that. If it's relevant, as a parent I can't understand how anyone could despise their kids the way that our father despised us - db has no children and so he maybe can't look at it from exactly the same angle.
So will I ever be truly over this if I don't forgive? I have worked really hard to move on in my life and build a good solid foundation for my children. I'm not sure my head or my heart could cope with going back to it all in order to do any forgiving.

StaceyAndTracey Sun 21-Jun-15 20:47:28

Want do you mean by forgiveness ? I mean what woudl it look like to you ? Does it involves doing anything or feeling or thinking differently ?

PuellaEstCornelia Sun 21-Jun-15 20:48:04

You're not letting him off. You are not saying what he has done is OK. You're saying you will no longer stay angry with him for what he has done. It's almost like saying 'you can't hurt me any more beciase I don't care anymore'. It's fecking hard to do, but it does worK!

DonnaMoss Sun 21-Jun-15 20:55:17

I don't know! Would I feel happier if I could say I have forgiven? Sometimes I feel pure rage if I really think about him - would that stop? Maybe I'd be a more peaceful person. Gosh, I have no idea if anything would be different.

DonnaMoss Sun 21-Jun-15 20:58:32

Puella I think maybe I'm further away from indifference that I'd originally thought. How do I get there?!

Dead Sun 21-Jun-15 20:58:32

I have always struggled with the idea of forgiveness until I read an interesting quote recently something along the lines that .."Forgiveness does not change the past but it can change your future"....its all about the burden of bitterness - let it go FOR YOU - quite simple and selfish really. You dont have to say anything to do anything different with him - you just change the mindset that this will not determine your future by not absorbing any more of you thoughts, feelings, energy ....

Hassled Sun 21-Jun-15 21:02:04

It is possible that the fact your DB isn't a parent is very relevant. You know how much you love and want to protect your DCs, and so the fact that your father didn't have those feelings towards you is always going to be more current - for your DB, maybe the forgiveness is because it's part of his past, whereas for you it's an everyday thing; you're seeing the contrast between your parenting and your father's every minute of the day.

And yes, I think you can get past things without forgiveness - it's not a necessity. It sounds like you've done bloody well and I can't see why you won't be able to keep doing bloody well without feeling forgiveness.

OhDearMuriel Sun 21-Jun-15 21:06:51

I don't see how you can forgive someone unless they are genuinely sorry for their actions and ask for your forgiveness.

Perhaps you need more time to process his poor treatment of you and your family, to be able to let it go and then begin to feel indifferent towards him. It just takes time :-(

bunchoffives Sun 21-Jun-15 21:13:54

Forgiveness is much easier if the perpetrator expresses remorse. Then there is open acknowledgement that wrong has been done, it is now regretted and by the perpetrator asking forgiveness they are specifically acknowledging the wrong specifically done to you.

However, if your f does not acknowledge the wrong he has done then your work of forgiveness is made harder. It may be easier to talk to a counsellor or priest and if you want to try to forgive, to mark that outwardly with some kind of ritual, not necessarily religious, to denote the decision that you have decided to let go of the hurt and pain.

It would not mean that you don't remember of course, but I suppose every time a memory came to you, you would balance it with the love and empathy of forgiveness. You could try to acknowledge that we are all flawed and make dreadful mistakes in your mind and perhaps try to muster some affirmative and loving thoughts for yourself as that child and as an adult and parent now.

Not sure if any of that would be helpful. In something of the same position myself. But I don't think I even want to have a stab at forgiving yet sad

StaceyAndTracey Sun 21-Jun-15 21:19:49

I'm wondering if you are wanting freedom from the anger you feel towards him , is that what forgiveness means to you ?

gildedcage Sun 21-Jun-15 21:27:05

Forgiveness is a choice that you can make for you. You can choose to forgive your father but that doesn't mean forgetting your past. I agree with the previous posters that forgiveness set you free for your future.

Have you ever thought or had some counselling? I think a good counsellor could help you to work through your feelings for your father and the impact on you.

DonnaMoss Sun 21-Jun-15 21:27:40

I think so Stacey, I don't always feel angry, I go for periods of time where I don't think a single thing about him. I'd like that on a permanent basis!

PuellaEstCornelia Sun 21-Jun-15 22:57:43

Oh, sweetie if I knew how to forgive, I'd bottle it! I do think you make a decision to stop, to put it on one side, but it is so hard -
In my case, every time it came to mind, I very conciously said to myself I wasn't going there, I wasn't thinking about it right now, I would do it later...

DinnaeKnowShitFromClay Mon 22-Jun-15 07:16:39

I don't think what your DB is describing is necessarily forgiveness, it may be just him coming to terms with it perhaps? It's hard to say. I agree with Gilded , some counselling would help you enormously or talking it out more with your DB may go a long way to getting to where he is.

Janette123 Mon 22-Jun-15 07:51:36

I agree with others who said that you can only forgive someone when you know they are truly sorry.
If you don't know this then there is no rule that says you must forgive him.

popalot Mon 22-Jun-15 08:04:22

You can't forgive someone unless they say sorry, which he won't.

But you can in your mind think about why they behaved the way they did (reasons, not excuses), how it affected you in both good and bad ways (how close you all are, how you empathise with other people who have had similar experiences) and also how it is no longer how you need to live your life (you are safe now, you don't have to walk on eggshells).

This can give you some freedom from the past. It's not something that happens over night. It's a gradual process where eventually what that person did to you becomes less and less important in your life and slowly the weight lifts off your shoulders. They become less meaningful to you; you don't hate them, you don't love them. They fade into the background of your life.

Isetan Mon 22-Jun-15 08:47:04

I think forgiveness is exactly as your brother described, it's about you, not the other person. Forgiveness is just a place you get to by making a conscious decision not to let the past intrude on the present and future and it's not about forgetting or absolution.

However, we are all wired differently and sometimes we reach the same destination but via a different route. Have you had any professional support in dealing with the past? It could help you find a release.

Actually, being a parent made forgiveness of my parents a lot easier (especially, when I got the faintest of glimpses that my Mother's own childhood was difficult and probably abusive). My siblings appear to to have been more forgiving than me and I got off the easiest, go figure.

I haven't forgotten the dysfunction I was brought up in and I never will but it remains in my past.

PeppermintCrayon Mon 22-Jun-15 09:08:00

I think forgiveness is over-emphasised as a concept.

If a stove burns me, I can forgive it all I like but I'll still have burns on me. The forgiveness part seems irrelevant.

Meerka Mon 22-Jun-15 10:29:40

but is it wrong that I don't want to do the same?

No it's not. And frankly, does it matter to anyone else if you don't want to forgive?

There are two advantages to forgiving that I can see: it helps people lose the bitterness they feel and secondly in some circumstances it stops the cycle of hate and damage. Less relevant to you, that second part, perhaps.

I don't think forgiving means pretending it didn't happen and that the damage is somehow lesser. for real forgiveness, you probably have to face just how damn much you were hurt. Also I suspect it doesn't mean that you don't still get angry! Anger is a natural response to being hurt very badly.

Some people are able to accept whatever it was that hurt them so badly, without actually forgiving and without it dominating their lives. I think that's the key; not letting the anger and injury dominate your life, with or without forgiveness. It seems to help some people, but not others.

I suspect it may have made life easier and pleasanter for your brother to have forgiven, and that's a good thing. But at times he may come across some more hurt, and have to face that all over again. As you say, having your own children shakes a lot of things up.

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