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dmcgill

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Many times, the words forgive and forget are said in the same sentence. When you are a survivor of any abuse, be it an alcoholic partner who has hurt you, sexual or mental abuse, part of the healing path is forgiveness. This, however does not mean forgetting.

Forgiving the person who hurt you is essential to a complete healing but do not feel guilty if you cannot forget. I say remember until you are strong enough to forget.

Remembering what was done to you and more importantly what you did to make it stop will empower you to have more control over your life. Soon, you will be able to forget and you won't even have to try. It will just happen.
 

sammy

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Hi...I know this is an old post, but I do think it is a very important and wise one...
However, I'm a bit confused... I wonder if, in your last paragraph, you meant to use the word 'forgive' rather than 'forget,' bearing in mind your earlier points... which I do agree with. Forgiving doesn't necessitate forgetting...

We can forgive, but not forget, because we need to learn from 'bad' things that happen....and learn the widom from these things.. i.e. like not putting ourselves in certain situations again... keeping away from people who persistantly hurt us, who may apologise profusely, but keep repeating the behaviour, showing their apology not to be deep or genuine...
But that doesn't mean we haven't forgiven.
Forgiveness is good for us... even if they are not aware of it, and we never talk to them again...
Lack of forgiveness can keep us, not them, in a sort of prison...
 

Ash

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I don't think that not forgiving would keep you prisoner. You can easily accept what was done to you and still not forgive. I believe that acceptance is more key because it allows you to get on with your life. I accept that my mother is the way she is. There is nothing I can do to change her and to not accept it would make me miserable. That doesn't mean that I need to forgive her for the crap that she has put me through.
 

David Baxter

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Some excellent points here: Reading all three posts makes me wonder about the limitations of the English language again when it comes to describing such an essential process: "Forgiveness", "Acceptance", and even "Forgetting" may mean different things to different people.

I guess I would say that the most destructive outcome of any sort of hurt or wrongdoing is if you carry around the burden of whatever negative feelings result, with no way of getting rid of them. I suspect that Dennis (dmcgill) was talking about unburdening yourself. Does doing that necessarily mean forgiving or forgetting? I would say no. Does it necessarily mean accepting? Maybe that is closer to the truth. But maybe that isn't quite the word either.

Bearing in mind that the goal is to get to a point where whatever happened doesn't continue to hurt you again and again, in my personal life I would say the task has been about getting to a point where I'm not so consumed with anger or some other negative emotion that I can't let go of it. I would agree that doesn't mean forgetting or forgiving; for me it isn't really about accepting what the other person has done to you either. Perhaps it's more about accepting that it happened and not raging against the world because it did. It's about finding a way to just leave it in the past.

And there may be different ways to get to that point. Forgiving can be one. Forgetting, maybe that could be another. Accepting in various ways could certainly be another. Maybe the most important thing is finding a way that works for you.
 

dmcgill

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Remembering what was done to you and more importantly what you did to make it stop will empower you to have more control over your life. Soon, you will be able to forget and you won't even have to try. It will just happen.

I read over the posts again and yes, I did mean forgetting over time. You won't have to try and forget, it will just happen over time if you forgive. David said that we all see words differently. Is that ever true! But my point in the post was you can't forget if you don't forgive because you always have that on you back.
 

Me

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I have to agree with David when he says that we all define words differently. I would never use the words accept and abuse in the same sentence, when refering to my own circumstances. Also, wanting to forgive and doing it are so far from each other. Part of me wants to, but part of me wants to hate with every ounce of being I have in me.

Just to add a note that is a little different from forgive, forget or accept, I have tried to do the "put yourself in their shoes" approach. My mother had a habit of being emotionally abusive when I was younger, and I hated her for it. As I got older, and became a parent as well, I talked to her about it. She claims, and I DO believe her, that she never realized that she was doing it. She didn't see the things she did as hurtful, or she had a reason for why she said/did different things that seemed to rationalize it in her own mind. I am mindful to NOT fall into that with my own kids, but there are days when I can see it from my mom's perspective, and think that maybe she wasn't as bad as she seemed at the time. I know this will not work for everyone, as I can't put myself into the shoes of my sexual abuser and come up with any rational that made it okay, so I realize that this won't wrk for everyone in some, or maybe any, circumstances.
Thanks for letting me add my two cents, and I hope it made some sort of sense!
 

Ash

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Acceptance is key, though. I'm certainly not saying that abuse is okay. But if you do not accept that it happened and the effects that it had on you, I don't believe that you can ever get better. I have to accept that my mother is who she is and reacts how she does. I have to accept that she was abusive and still sometimes is. I have to accept that I will never have the mother/daughter relationship that I have always craved. There's a period of mourning, definitely.

I understand where you were going with putting yourself in your mother's shoes. Sometimes you can, sometimes you can't. If it helps, I say go for it. What's important is getting on with your life and making sure that you take care of yourself. We all deserve to be happy, no matter what we may feel sometimes. (Which btw was a huge epiphany for me not too long ago)
 

dmcgill

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It is sad but true. Many parents hurt their children without meaning it. It could have something to do with what happened to them during their childhood. We mimic our upbringing unless we have accepted that it is not good and done something about it.

Here on the West Coast, the Department of Indian Affairs took the Native children from their parents and put them in "residential schools", where many of the children were abused. This was only part of the problem thought, (the abuse) and the real problem was these children were not parented and today have children of their own and do not know how to parent. In fact, they have copied their parents and turned to drugs and alcohol to fill the void. But, many are now coming to the realization that they are the only ones who can stop the cycle and are doing something about parenting and taking classes, going to treatment and counciling so they do not make the mistakes of the last generation. We have to be careful, forget... no but accept and make changes in our lives.. yes.
 

Ash

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dmcgill said:
It is sad but true. Many parents hurt their children without meaning it. It could have something to do with what happened to them during their childhood. We mimic our upbringing unless we have accepted that it is not good and done something about it.

That is so true! I see my mother in some of the ways that I react to situations. If I don't face up to that, I will never be able to change my behavior accordingly and become a better parent to my children. I believe that insight is terribly important and that gaining it can be a life-long process.

It's interesting because my mother mentioned to my bf and me last night that she doesn't remember her childhood and that, although her mother was around as far as we know, her grandmother basically raised her. I can't say why she doesn't remember, if she dealt with abuse as I did (not remembering much of childhood), but it was a "lightbulb" moment for me.

We can't change who others are and we can't be responsible for their actions but we can be responsible for our own. It's very empowering when you think about it.

In fact, they have copied their parents and turned to drugs and alcohol to fill the void. But, many are now coming to the realization that they are the only ones who can stop the cycle and are doing something about parenting and taking classes, going to treatment and counciling so they do not make the mistakes of the last generation. We have to be careful, forget... no but accept and make changes in our lives.. yes.

I find it very satisfying when anyone has the courage to take that leap and create a better life for themselves. I wish anyone who does this the absolute best.
 

sammy

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dmcgill said:
Remembering what was done to you and more importantly what you did to make it stop will empower you to have more control over your life. Soon, you will be able to forget and you won't even have to try. It will just happen.

I read over the posts again and yes, I did mean forgetting over time. You won't have to try and forget, it will just happen over time if you forgive. David said that we all see words differently. Is that ever true! But my point in the post was you can't forget if you don't forgive because you always have that on you back.

thanks for clarifying. Sorry I misunderstood :)
Yes, I agree... or rather that things can melt into the background of our thoughts, and maybe are always there in our subconscious...and can affect us negatively, unless, as you say, we forgive. (I appreciate that everyone has a right to a different belief about forgiveness :))

Practically, I have found that forgiveness comes through an act of the will, and our feelings of forgiveness may be far lagging behind our choice to forgive someone who has offended us, abused us etc...
But as we keep consciously forgiving, whenever we think about it, (even without the accompanying feelings), eventually the feelings line up with the will, and we may even feel pity for the offender, that they sank so low... or whatever...
then we are 'stronger' than them.
 

Ash

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Valid point, sammy. The biggest problem with forgiveness that I have is my choice to hang on to the anger. Although I'm not sure how much "choice" I have at this point. I think that anger has kept me afloat for so long that I am hesitant to give it up. I have gotten better at trying to understand that what someone does is THEIR issue and doesn't necessarily reflect on me. It's hard.
 

David Baxter

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Ash said:
Valid point, sammy. The biggest problem with forgiveness that I have is my choice to hang on to the anger. Although I'm not sure how much "choice" I have at this point. I think that anger has kept me afloat for so long that I am hesitant to give it up.
Indeed -- there are many valid points here. It is a complicated issue.

That part about "choice" is important: If we are hanging on to something, there is a reason. One of my colleagues who specializes in eating disorders often talks in terms of "cost-benefit": If you are engaging in a behavior, it is because you are getting something out of it, gaining something from it. But often, it is also taking something away from you, costing you something. Sometimes it can be helpful to look at it in those terms: What do you gain from hanging on to the anger? and what does it cost you to do that?
 

Ash

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I think that being able to look at something objectively is important in cases like these. Unfortunately, emotions often override objectivity.
 

sammy

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Yes, emotions can be powerful.

Yes, the choice to hang on to anger/unforgiveness - we are getting something out of it...
Sounds a bit 'Dr. Phil' doesn't it? :D

But that is true I think, and as you said, Ash,
I think that anger has kept me afloat for so long

I think anger can bring strength, wake us up from being too passive, especially what, for want of a better term, we can call 'righteous anger.'

But is that meant to last permanently, that state?
Or as David said,...

But often, it is also taking something away from you, costing you something

as I think it can...
I think it can prevent us authentically, fully moving on in life...

BUT, how can we give up anger, unforgiveness, (by an act of the will/choice), in a vacuum, without something to replace it?
So that we keep strong - but the right 'kind of strength'?
 

momof5

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sammy said:
Practically, I have found that forgiveness comes through an act of the will, and our feelings of forgiveness may be far lagging behind our choice to forgive someone who has offended us, abused us etc...
But as we keep consciously forgiving, whenever we think about it, (even without the accompanying feelings), eventually the feelings line up with the will, and we may even feel pity for the offender, that they sank so low... or whatever...
then we are 'stronger' than them.

I agree with Sammy here. It took me many years to forgive my dad for what he did to me, sexually, physically, emotionally and mentally. I kept mixing up forgiving and forgeting. I though to forgive was to forget. I also found that what he did to me interefered in my life way too much until I learned to forgive, but that in forgiveness, I didn't have to like him, or love him, or forget what he did to me.

The forgiveness on my end, was to accept what happened to me, realize that I had nothing to do with what he did to me, I did not encourage it to happen, I didn't ask for it to happen. In my learning to forgive, I realized that he, if he had any conscience at all, would have to live with what he did to me.

My children have a good relationship with their grandfather, and my two oldest know what happened to me. Yet they still respect him for who he is now, not for who he was when i was a child.

I think if we don't forget, we get into a cycle of abuse ourselves. I was so hard on my 3 oldest children when they were younger because I had things to deal with that I did not sort out yet. (The weird thing is, they dont' think I was? go figure that one out?) Add to this living with an alcholic, abusive husband, who has since stopped drinking, but still has the abusive tendancies. Which I call the dry drunks.

Also, to forgive, gives us a better vision of ourselves, I think. I dont dwel on the things that he said to me when I was growing up as much anymore. To me, forgivness is a relase of feelings back to the person who hurt or abused us. And believe it or not, it helps in the forgeting part as well. You don't think about it as much, and you climb out of that victim part of life and carry onto the I"m a survivor part of life.

It has taken me years to find out at least a tiny part of who I am inside and outside. And I still fight it, but not as much as I did years ago. I'm not bitter anymore.

Anyhoooo, just a thought process on forgiving and forgeting on my end of the way the brain works. ;>)
 

jubjub

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I used to silently ask my mother and father (who were divorced when I was about 8) to forgive me for being such a bad child when I was growing up and causing so many problems. I don't speak to either one of them and haven't for quite some time, because both of them think I am a failure in this life and I don't quite measure up to whatever fixed standards they have in their minds.

I used to ask God to forgive me for being a terrible person and not to take His displeasure out on the lives of my children, because my personal daily living hell is of my own making, not THEIRS. I don't think God HAS forgiven me, actually. I think He stands apart, watching my slow downhill roll, and does nothing to stop it.

I chastise myself often for not having chosen better paths in life, and now I am getting old. I wish I could forgive myself.

I feel very deeply all the pain I have caused others in my life
 

momof5

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jubjub said:
I used to silently ask my mother and father (who were divorced when I was about 8) to forgive me for being such a bad child when I was growing up and causing so many problems. I don't speak to either one of them and haven't for quite some time, because both of them think I am a failure in this life and I don't quite measure up to whatever fixed standards they have in their minds.
Jubjub:
I know in my heart, even though I have never met you, that you weren't a bad child. I think maybe your parents had such a rough time with each other, that for them it was so easy to blame things on a child who was defensless. Also, you need to realize that its your standards in life that you need to live up to. Its good to have acceptance and love from your parents, all of us need that. But we also need to realize that we are all unique people. We all have qualities that people admire. We are who we are because God created us and we are all special people. And at 8 years old? How much trouble could you have been? An active child who explored life as they should? Full of energy, as it should be.


jubjub said:
I used to ask God to forgive me for being a terrible person and not to take His displeasure out on the lives of my children, because my personal daily living hell is of my own making, not THEIRS. I don't think God HAS forgiven me, actually. I think He stands apart, watching my slow downhill roll, and does nothing to stop it.

On this subject, God forgives all who ask. His grace is so unbelieveable. And I think maybe, as you say that God watches you go downward, He isn't letting you go down without holding onto you. God never promised that our lives would be filled with all happiness, and no sadness or frustration or pain. And I think truly think, that the things that come into our lives teach us to be better people, IF we let it. I dont' think he will punish your children for what you are/have done. And, you need to find it in yourself to forgive yourself for whatever it is that is troubling you. Until you forgive yourself, you won't feel Gods forgiveness. [/quote]
jubjub said:
I chastise myself often for not having chosen better paths in life, and now I am getting old. I wish I could forgive myself.

I feel very deeply all the pain I have caused others in my life

Ahh, do I ever understand this! Not choosing the correct paths in life. I find myself thinking about this a good deal at times. I call it the if only's of life. If only I had this or if only I had done that etc... But, just think of it this way, how many lives have you touched on the road that you have traveled? It might not be the one that you really wanted to travel on, but if you had not taken this turn, there are people who you touched, who would not have been touched.

We all cause pain in others lives. Sometimes we do it on purpose and other times, it just happnes, and we dont' mean for it to.

I think you can forgive yourself, if you work at it. Age doesn't matter to forgiveness. And once you get through this, I think you will realize that God forgives you as well.

I hope I have managed to give you a little help.
 

jubjub

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I am a twin. We were raised in basement apartments from the time we were born up until about the age of 11. I never had a real home, a real father, a real life. It was a shame and embarrassment in those days to be the product of divorced parents and to be living in basements, so we spent every day trying to make as little noise and as few waves as possible. We couldn't afford much in the way of comfort at all. We never got anything new unless it was an absolute necessity, and then it would be two of the same thing (i.e. a coat, a dress) because, hey, we're twins! No wonder I have a hard time trying to find my own identity.

My twin sister seems to have moved on with her life, although she has had her adjustment problems as well. After two failed marriages, she is finally single and free to live her life the way she wants.

I was just in a very bad and and sad mood yesterday when I wrote what I did above. I should really learn to keep my fingers still, and think before I type!

What troubles me is I have never experienced the meaning of true love, as in someone truly loving ME for who and what I am, someone who is interested in my wellbeing, someone who actually would WANT to give me love in return for mine. I am full of love which I know would pour out of me freely if it was given a chance to, if the right person came along. But I am WAY too old for anything like that to happen now and I'm just dreaming in technicolour!

So, okay, there ya go......that's what is really bugging me....
 

lammers1980

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I often feel the Jubjub does regarding choices in life. I didn't always make the best choices in life, and now I am living with the consequences. Although I could be much worse off, I would consider myself to be at the lower end of the "totem pole" of life and often it hurts, especially since I work with many of the elites of the city. It often makes it hard to go from the glittering office towers of downtown to the public housing where I live. I counter this by looking at all the gifts I was given in life: my beautiful wife and two children, having good food on the table every night. Sometimes we need to take a step back from the materialistic world in which we live. By global standards, I am very wealthy!
 

awthedude

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I didn't see it here but i would say there is definitely a huge difference between "forgetting" and "ignoring" I think it is most important to remember the key to all this is "resolving" the issue. Which means different things to different people. I struggle with these issues every day and i think in some ways maybe everyone does (resolving things in their past)

You are right about this one dude! This never crossed my mind. The ignoring never entered my mind. But the other thing that you said is the most important. Resolving the issue. And for each person that is different. And the time span is different as well. For some people it can take years, others it might not. Some might think its resolved until another issue brings it to the fore front again and we realize, hey I really didn't resolve that as much as I thought that I did!

I think in some aspect, everyone struggles in life with one thing or another every day in life. But I think its how we handle these issues that is important. We can let them take over our lives, or we can live our lives the Best that we can, and take each second at a time to live our life the best that we can, and deal with those issues a second at a time. And for each second that we deal with them, we are a survivor, and we gain strength, and we move forward to deal with the next second. we can do it, we all can.
 

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