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Forgiveness... People say to forgive, and it'll help you heal, but… - John [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]

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[Aug. 27th, 2004|11:32 am]

People say to forgive, and it'll help you heal, but what do you do when it's unforgivable? Or, if there's no admission of wrongdoing? Or...

And at one point, it hit me.

There are three types of healing involved in forgiveness.

There's healing of the other person; the other person had a 'moral injury', and did something wrong, and has healed, and you're acknowledging that. Part of that healing would be the person's understanding of the nature of that fault; how could a person heal a moral injury if they don't even acknowledge that there is an injury?

There's healing of the relationship; it might have changed - we heal from amputations! - but it's once again healthy, and no longer specifically injured. Note that sometimes an entity, even at its healthiest, might not be very strong, but at least it's not still bleeding.

And then there's the healing of the self... when the event has hit some level of closure, even if it's not satisfactory, when the final stage of grief (acceptance) has been reached.

All three of these types of healing are, I think, being covered by the one word "forgiveness". And, because of that, a lot of notions get confused. But it is possible to heal the self though acceptance, and a type of 'forgiveness', even when the other person, or the relationship, can't be healed.

[User Picture]From: kightp
2004-08-27 07:16 pm (UTC)
Personally, I'm most concerned about that third sort of healing, the kind that says "I forgive you, regardless of whether you're sorry, because I need to be done being angry/hurt/offended by what happened."

It's good if the other party can apologize, it's good if the relationship can be healed. But that's often largely beyond my control, and not a necessary prerequisite to forgiveness, when it will aid in healing my life.

(I haven't perfect this. I doubt, for instance, that I will ever forgive my father, and since he's dead, I'm the only one who would benefit if I did. But I do think I've done pretty well at transforming the residual pain into productive, righteous anger toward the parts of our culture that encourage the strong to victimze the weak. I can live with that.)
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[User Picture]From: kitsunegeek
2004-08-27 07:20 pm (UTC)
*nods* I can't think of anything to say that adds to that, but I agree, very much so.
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[User Picture]From: iamjw
2004-08-27 10:08 pm (UTC)
Integral in the third kind, for me at least, is understanding. Understanding the reasons behind why someone would do what they did, understanding the forces that shaped them to be the way they were/are. This seems to come with time and maturity, and has made a huge difference in my ability to forgive my mother, and begin to forgive my sister for various events in my life.
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[User Picture]From: pagawne
2004-08-27 10:26 pm (UTC)
Sometimes you also have to forgive yourself for not being perfect enough to see that you were being wronged and injured in the first place.
Perhaps this might be of some help. It takes energy to carry anything, emotions included. In many cases the energy it takes is well worth the effort. (Ex. you love your cat. Loving the cat takes energy, but the love is "repaid" in ways that make it well worth the effort.) In others it just isn't worth the effort. (ex. you hate Joe Blow because he offended you deeply over something important to you. The energy drain of hating is a drain of your energy. Is it worth it?) *I* have found it is easier to forgive the person and just wash them out of my life and get on with living. It is sometimes necessary to deal with them on a daily basis, but you do not have to allow them to affect you emotionally. For you, they just really don't exist anymore in your life.
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