Conversations: Is it possible to forgive?

** Daisy is a dear friend of mine.  We have daily talks about everything and anything that crosses our path since we have a natural affinity, and we truly care for each other.  We want to take our conversations further, and will have discussions on different subjects here, just the same way we converse on our daily lives. I hope you can follow us, and join the conversation.

Daisy:

I have been pondering the question of forgiveness. Can it be possible to forgive? Do we forgive or just forget or ignore? What is it that we are forgiving? What type of debt does the person owe us that we must forgive in order to move on or better the situation?

Other words that could be used synonymously with the word forgiveness are pardon, mercy, tolerance, exoneration, understanding…

… understanding… resonates best when it comes to interpersonal relationships. I think the word “forgive” has been miss used. If I borrow money from a bank, and then I cannot pay it back, the bank may “forgive” our debt if we go with a debt consolidating agency that basically pays off the bank so I can walk away from my obligation. This mediator is an outsider to whom we are now indebted to. In other words, we needed an outside source to free ourselves from the situation. This scenario boils down to a transaction type of situation. But, with personal relationships, we cannot talk about transactions. If someone does something to hurt us, it’s very hard to find another person to help us forgive that aggression. It hurts, and it was wrong, and we cannot forgive or forget.

I was never a popular girl. I was a nerd. I studied and got straight A’s. But, as all teenagers do, I wanted to fit in. There was a twin boy called Rodrigo who was popular and who I had some kind of crush on. And, someone had told me that he liked me. One day, we were outside the sports complex where he played basketball, and I noticed that he was watching me. Eventually, he signaled me to come over to the top of the stairs, and so I did. I was so nervous and hopeful that he was going to ask me out, but instead, he did not even say hello and the only words that came out of his mouth were: “que fea sos!” or “how ugly are you!”. I was devastated. All I could do was turn around and walk away. He was very mean, and even though that happened over 35 years ago, I still remember it. I have not forgotten. But, have I forgiven him? Let’s see…

The reality was that what he hurt me. And when I got home, I cried. In my mind, he being a teenage jerk wanting to look cool in front of his friends. Besides, what would he want to do with an overweight nerd? A few years later, I learned that his parents were divorcing at the time, his school work was suffering, and his life did not turn out to be as wonderful as we all thought it would be. For starters, being a twin could be tough on kids, specially teenagers. All of his life, he was the “twin” not just Rodrigo. So, now I understand his situation and why getting involved with a nerd may not have been wise for him at the time. His “coolness” was a defense mechanism. When we truly understand the reality, then there is no longer a need to forgive. So perhaps instead of using the word “forgive” let’s try to substitute it with “understand”. Then, no mediation is needed. It’s all within ourselves. We just must genuinely desire want to understand.

Can anyone forgive infidelity, for instance? That’s a tough one. Infidelity usually happens when there is such a break down in intimacy and communication, that the person must have certain needs met outside of the relationship. Can you get to the point where you “understand” the reality of the situation that lead to infidelity? The fact is that there was hurt, and pain, and “understanding” does not take away those feelings, but it will help you move on with your life. It will help liberate you from re-enacting the situation in your head plus all those added stories we love to make up. The fact is, that he was not having amazing wild passionate sex on the beach with that model looking tramp. The reality is that he was being comforted by an average looking person who took time to listen to him and provided the intimacy he so craved and you were not able to satisfy. The key is is being able to distinguish reality versus the soap operas that we make up in our heads about the situation.

When we cannot forgive, we carry this weight on our backs throughout life. And, when anything triggers this situation, we react, we feel the same pain. Not wise.

So, is it possible to forgive? Absolutely yes. But it’s easier to “understand”.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Paula:

In my view, forgiveness is about a choice.

We all hurt in different ways. Some choose to be angry and express their feelings outward. Others choose to stay quiet, and let the hurt simmer inside. They are both valid responses, but the channeling of emotions is completely different.

The understanding of the situation that caused the hurt in the first place feeds from how we express our emotions. Movement needs to happen in order to clear space and make room for change. And change my friend, comes with consequences. We either choose to forgive or not. Forgiveness for me, is the end result of getting to that point of release. Is the choice for not getting stuck.

All situations are unique in their own. Infidelity, in my view, breaks up trust. I can understand all the reasons for the infidelity to take place, and I may even forgive my partner. But, will I be able to trust the relationship again? That would be my choice.

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