What does forgiveness mean? Here’s what the online dictionary says:
for·give·ness/ˌfərˈɡivnəs/Learn to pronounce noun: forgiveness; plural noun: forgivenesses
- the action or process of forgiving or being forgiven.”she is quick to ask forgiveness when she has overstepped the line”
Use of the word FORGIVENESS over time
I hate it when a definition uses itself or a form of itself in the definition… Not helpful. So I looked up forgive and here’s what I found:
for·give/fərˈɡiv/Learn to pronounce verb: forgive; 3rd person present: forgives; past tense: forgave; gerund or present participle: forgiving; past participle: forgiven
- stop feeling angry or resentful toward (someone) for an offense, flaw, or mistake.”I don’t think I’ll ever forgive David for the way he treated her”
- stop feeling angry or resentful toward someone for (an offense, flaw, or mistake).”he was not a man who found it easy to forgive and forget“
- cancel (a debt).”he proposed that their debts should be forgiven”
- used in polite expressions as a request to excuse or regard indulgently one’s foibles, ignorance, or impoliteness.”you will have to forgive my suspicious mind”
Phrasesone could be forgiven — it would be understandable (if one mistakenly did a particular thing).”the arrangements are so complex that you could be forgiven for feeling confused”Origin
Spending this time by myself, I am purposefully looking inward and discovering who I am as an individual. Now, at 50 years old, you would think I would know who I am. I do not. I have always, happily, been a part of someone else my entire life.
I was my parent’s daughter. I was born and lived with my parent until I became…
My friend’s roommate. I went off to college and we had the best of times sharing a dorm room until I became…
My husband’s wife. I, after all, went to college to get my MRS. And I did. I just didn’t pick a very good mate. I’m thankful I picked who I did, as because of that relationship I learned empathy for abused and battered women. I also became…
My children’s mother. I found myself, after divorcing that abusive man, a single mom and doing the best I could. Comparatively, I did really well. Though most days I didn’t feel like it. My children have grown up and become amazing humans that I am so proud to call my children. They are married and have beautiful lives. That gave me the freedom to go and find a new love of my life and I became…
Someone’s girlfriend. And I loved every second of that. I truly thought I had finally met my match. We were so happy. We have such similar likes and dislikes. We rarely argued, let alone had a fight. It was bliss. But then one day he decided to tell me he had been lying and pretending all that time. And in the blink of an eye, I became…
Just me. For the first time in my life, living all alone. After a few months of grieving the loss of that wonderful image of a life, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I still have my mom and my children and their families in my life. I am just not living with any of them. For the first time in my life, I can be selfish and do exactly what I want to do when I want to do it, exactly how I want to do it. Within reason. And it’s so strange. And I like it.
Given this time to look at my behavior over the span of 50 years gives me good memories and bad memories. Some of the bad memories I created myself. No, let me rephrase that, nearly all of the bad memories I have created myself. I only have myself to blame. I’m not ready to share all the details. I can share that I have some forgiving to do. To myself.
Forgiving is hard. Period. But it’s the right thing to do. Always. It says so in the Bible.
Proverbs 17:9 (RSV)
He who forgives an offense seeks love, but he who repeats a matter alienates a friend.
Matthew 6:12 (RSV)
And forgive us our debts, As we also have forgiven our debtors;
Matthew 6:14–15 RSV)
For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father also will forgive you; but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
I need to forgive others. God forgives me. All anyone has to do is just ask, right?
Then why is it so hard to forgive myself? I mean, for the most part, I am pretty quick to forgive others. And with my memory as terrible as it is these days, it’s super easy to forget what someone did to begin with.
I always remember what I did.
So that should make it easy for me to forgive myself. Right? Not so much.
One of the things I am going to forgive myself for is picking bad husbands. Each time, yes there were 2, they were completely different. One a little better than the other in some ways. Even my last boyfriend was a huge improvement from my husbands. Thus thinking he was “the one” that I would spend “the rest of my life” with. Well, had he been honest about who he was, he would have been. Now, good for me for making better decisions. Good for me for not repeating the same mistake more than once. I cannot control the bad character on my last boyfriend. However, I would like to figure out how to see that coming next time so I don’t repeat that same mistake again.
Another thing I am going to forgive myself for is hurting other people’s feelings. Now, when I realize I have done this, I usually try to say I’m sorry to the person I have wronged. You know, kinda like one of those 12 step things. It makes sense that I should admit that I have done wrong. Sometimes it takes a while for me to realize what I did was wrong. Which means sometimes I can’t find the person to say I’m sorry. Sometimes I can.
Once I spent a good bit of time hunting down an old boyfriend to tell him I was sorry I broke up with him and that I hoped he could forgive me. I was in a really weird and bad place and it’s a super long story but honestly, I look back and don’t even feel like I was living my actual life at the time. I feel like I was possessed for something. I was completely out of character and not just for a day or a week it was for months. My behavior at that time completely altered my life. My ego wants to think that everything was supposed to happen that way so I could be on the path I am on now. Truth of the matter is, I don’t know what I was doing. And I really hurt him in the process. So a number of years later, the internet became a thing and I was able to find him and send him a letter apologizing for what I did. He actually called me and basically told me he forgave me. It made me feel really good that he accepted my apology.
There was another time that a friend, who is, let’s just say, on the codependent side and super long story short, I had to end the friendship because she was causing way too much stress in my life and all of my subtle hints just weren’t working. I ended up writing her a letter letting her know how neurotic and selfish she was being and how it was interfering with my life. Of course that friendship ended. Truth be told, I don’t remember the details of the original letter I sent her. I just remember I told her my opinion of her overall behavior and not in a sugar coated way. Years later, I ran across her old number and text messaging was a thing now. I sent her a long text apologizing for my behavior and asked if she could forgive me. She ended up calling me and saying she could. We started a friendship up again. However, she holds that letter over my head all the time. My ego thinks the letter is still on the forefront of her mind because she knows what I said are things she knows she does but doesn’t like about herself and isn’t willing to work on on her own. But that’s her issue, not mine. The fact that she would even bring that old letter up once makes me question our friendships authenticity. To me, saying you forgive someone, but you really don’t, is worse than not actually forgiving someone at all.
And that’s what I find myself doing to myself. Often.
Over all, I think I can forgive myself for those bad choices. I am going to write down in my goal list, “I have forgiven myself for the bad choices in men I have made in the past.” and remind myself of this daily. Some day I will feel it. Even if I don’t feel it right now. I’m not saying that I shouldn’t continue to own the behavior. I should. And when I do, I work on making decisions that will help me not to do that same behavior again. I am also going to remind myself, when I doubt my worthiness of forgiving myself, that I made those choices in that moment because I am human, and my human side was showing. I can’t go back and do any of it over, I can only move forward with better choices today.
In case anyone else is struggling with this issue as well, here are some sources I found on the web that you might enjoy reading as well:
- Why Is It So Hard to Forgive Yourself?
- When Forgiving Yourself Is the Hardest Kind of Forgiveness
- Learning to Forgive Yourself
- 12 Ways to Forgive Yourself for a Past Mistake
- Forgiving Yourself