Thinking about Forgiveness…

October 1, 2011


The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.– Mahatma Gandhi

 

This quote echoes my own feelings regarding forgiveness. I am happy to forgive people for their actions. I will do all I can to help them realise what they’ve done wrong, and how they can make up for their error. Forgiveness is held to be a good thing to do by most mental health experts for most things.

Certain transgressions are deemed to be different. For instance most experts would not encourage a person who was sexually abused to forgive the one who was their abuser and allow them back into their life. The safety of the victim should be paramount.

As a victim of child sexual abuse I didn’t think about these things. It’s only been in the years since as an adult that I’ve begun to think about these issues. The man who offended against me when I was quite young is dead now. I understand a little about why he may have felt the need to do what he did.

I certainly don’t think he did a good thing, and if things had been different, I believe he should have gone to jail for what he did. Death is the final thing in life though, and I’m satisfied that he can no longer harm anyone.

This man was living a sad life – he’d lost contact with his family for reasons unknown to me, and he relied on alcohol to help him through life to some extent. His life was certainly not a life anyone would wish for. But what happened to me wasn’t what anyone would wish for either.

Now I ask myself, do I forgive this man? I find I can’t actually say I would welcome him back into my life if he were still alive. But I can acknowledge that he was part of my learning about life, even though it took many years to learn the lessons of it.

I don’t know enough to know if people like this man can be rehabilitated and allowed back into the lives of vulnerable people. I hope that it is possible though, and if it is possible, then that rehabilitation should happen for the good of society, and for the good of the offender.

These are my thoughts, and I would love to read comments on this from other people.

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11 Responses to “Thinking about Forgiveness…”

  1. I think if you don’t forgive you remain stuck in your own emotional pain .
    we can not condemn or justify what the man did or didn’t do as we’ve not live within his mind and body and we do not know the emotional pain from which he came

    if we look at the thoughts that we predestine our life before we come to this physical world then it changes once again the dimensions from which we judge our experiences

    All we can know for sure is that finding the forgiveness within our own hearts frees us from remaining a prisoner and overlooking the greater lesson that is there for us to learn from

    • gardendog said

      I agree with what you say Nancy. I have seen people still tied to their abuse after more than forty years. These people will go on suffering because they cannot leave what happened to them all those years ago. I have left my abuse behind, and I’m living a life that has hope, love and joy.

  2. I suffered physical abuse and as my abuser is dying I feel an intense NEED to figure out how to forgive her (my mother) before she dies. I LOVE the quote at the top of the page. My buddhist practice and my catholic roots seem to be calling me to figure this out STAT. I think Nancy is right the question for me is “HOW?” How are we supposed to do this? any ideas?

  3. gardendog said

    The thing that helped me to reach a better place was developing an understanding of my life and forgiving myself. I stopped blaming myself for what happened, and so understood the other person better.

    I’m not saying this will work for everyone, but creative writing and working my way around and through my issues with pen and paper or keyboard and screen helped me immensely.

    • ‘stop blaming myself’ is a huge part of this. I have taken years of my life learning to see Me through My eyes and not my abuser. Children are so vulnerable. Writing has always been my Way Out also. Reading too. I need to reach out and get perspective. Your perspective has been very inspiring. Thank you! Peace, Jen

      • gardendog said

        Thank you. Creative writing has brought me to a place of comfort and hope. I went to a fantastic workshop program that went for 7 weeks, one day a week. We were all women who had been sexually abused. When I heard the stories of the other women, and saw the stages they were at in their lives, it helped me to realise I had found my own way to find my peace. That was the starting point for the poetry collection I wrote and self published, and those women remain in my mind as I search for a path to help similar people.

        I’m at the early stages of this journey of assistance, but my heart is full with the planning of it.

  4. johnlmalone said

    I have never been abused — to my knowledge — but I have been very badly hurt by a certain person. Should I forgive that person? Forgiveness is hard when all you want is revenge. So I don’t know. I know that moving on is the only answer and that means to forgive. My mother always said that she can forgive — because the lord commanded it — but can never forget. I think it has to be both. Only thus can you be liberated

    • gardendog said

      John, it hurts when someone we know takes an action against us, I can imagine you would feel a gamut of emotions from it. Personally, I don’t like the Old Testament way, I feel revenge is an act done in anger, and angry acts are seldom well thought out and useful acts. I’m not a
      believer in Christianity, but I do follow some of Jesus’s ways.
      As an atheist, I’ve found my own way, and pointed my life toward helping others when and if I can.
      Re forgetting – I believe the way to move on is to consider every act to be a chance to learn a lesson. Examining actions taken against you and considering the why’s and wherefores of the actions may teach you something about the other person, society and yourself. There are often many reasons why someone does something, and some of the reasons why can be unknowable without deep thought.
      Letting go of good things is like releasing a caged bird – there is still music and the music is heard by many more people. Letting go of bad things is like finding a leech on your body and burning it off. The leech was sucking out life from you and was an ugly thing that you’re better off without.
      Peace and love to you John and I hope to see you again sometime soon.

  5. johnlmalone said

    thanks Carolyn for your comforting words. They are sensible AND GIVE ME STRENGTH. yES i HOPE WE CATCXH UP SOON.

    • Poetry book! How can I purchase one? I really am a poet and find incredible healing and joy in it; writing and reading and going to poetry slams. How do I buy yours? I KNOW I will want to read your poetry.

      • gardendog said

        Thank you for your interest, if you go to the top of this page you’ll find the link and be able to purchase your own copy. Please note, the cost stated there is for people who live in
        Australia, not overseas. Just add the appropriate amount to the price given.

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