Forgiveness

Forgiveness.

The word is weighing on me today, and yesterday. Dancing on my tongue. I think about my time here, and how even though there have been many frustrating and dismissive moments… everybody pulled together in the end. 

About how we are slowly getting better. How my brother is working on himself and I’m working on me and we are breaking barriers.

About how my mother and fathers upbringing left them no real alternative for learning to communicate – other than the way they did learn. About how many barriers they’ve overcome. 

About how the way my family ended up is nobody’s fault. 

There was no malicious intent. Nobody means to hurt anybody else in our home. We do, and I’m sure I’m not innocent in it. I used to be mad only at my brother – my parents have finite resources and it seemed they all went to him… that I was always the one sucking it up and never getting what I needed emotionally… and it’s true – I missed a whole piece of the emotional puzzle.

And then I learned over time that I was the product of my environment and with patience and guidance from Em I learned that lying was how I coped and was a learned behaviour. And if you follow the logic of that – my brother is a part of his environment as well. An environment we shared. The difference is his anger was always directed outwards (usually at me) and mine inwards.

So then I spent a lot of time being mad at my parents. The ones who were supposed to be the adults. The ones who really should have seen the patterns and behaviours… but if I’m just learning to see the patterns and behaviours and it’s this hard undoing them at 28… and I didn’t see them before – then maybe my parents didn’t see the patterns either. And the idea of facing that much when your coping mechanisms are so ingrained in your 60’s? That seems impossible.

My one parent crossed war torn borders at the age of 2 and didn’t speak until he was 6 because of the trauma… and my other was adopted at the age of 9 after witnessing her father commit suicide and living in an orphanage for years. One had hardworking parents who didn’t have time for them emotionally and the other had no example of parents at all. So how were they supposed to learn about emotions and processing them if it was never modelled. Talk about generational trauma and dysfunction.

All in all, they both did amazing considering their upbringing. Better than their siblings. Two degrees apiece, amazing careers and long term jobs. And I don’t list these things as an excuse because there isn’t one – neither of them have ever sought help and I truly believe that is an error they should own. I also believe that they need to take responsibility for the burdens that fell on my brother and I. I’m not out to make excuses.

But I’m considering this idea of forgiveness and compassion. Because maybe it would be better than being so angry… and maybe it would help me unify my childhood experiences (some of which have chunks of time missing) with who I am now. And maybe it would allow room for empathy and understanding… which would pave the way to healing.

It still seems like a mighty proposition – so it’s simply an idea that I’m going to let sit. After all, I’ve considered forgiving myself for years and haven’t managed that yet. I’m not sure I ever will. 

For now, I strive for understanding – hoping it paves the way for forgiveness in the end.

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5 thoughts on “Forgiveness

  1. I find forgiveness to be a process more than an outcome or singular action on my part. I find that forgiving my mom and dad is more of an acceptance of my life and how it has ended up, how much I struggle now, and moving on from that. I find I am more able to forgive during times I am really tuned in to myself and not resisting my struggles.
    I hear you with a lot of awareness and clarity around who your parents are and what they can and can’t give you. I think your awareness is going to help out a whole lot, in forgiving them and accepting everything that has happened to you.

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    • I like the idea of it as a process. It is definitely hard to accept my parents as they are and not as I wish they were – but the understanding I have gained about how I was raised helped me look at how they were raised.

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  2. It’s hard thing to do. I think sometimes you have to settle for acceptance of how things are and letting go of active anger rather than true forgiveness. Seeing that there were things that made it really difficult for your parents makes it easier. I don’t think I could feel real forgiveness toward someone unless there was acknowledgement or regret or change on their part. That’s certainly the case with my father, where I forgave and tried to start a new relationship as an adult but he evaded his end of the bargain so in the end I walked away. I don’t feel angry toward him, more just disappointed and resigned.

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  3. Anger takes a lot of energy and there is freedom in forgiveness. That said, it takes time. I’ve tried to forgive mine, because like you said, generational dysfunction and they didn’t have ways to learn things so how would they teach me? But it is hard, and I really think we need to work out our grief, anger, and sadness before we can forgive them.

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  4. I struggle with this sort of black and white view of my parents, too. The thing I am very slowly learning is that it is okay for things to be both– you can understand your parents and why they were the way they were AND you can be mad about the fact that meant you didn’t get what you needed. I really can’t hold both things yet, but I can see there is an option for this AND that instead of this OR that.

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