on letting it go…

I’ve been thinking about forgiveness. The dog and I watched Dogma last night so I went to bed with a head full of angels, arches and aeon old grudges… I suspect that had about the same affect on sleep as eating a cheese board! Leaving aside the bizarreness that is Alanis Morrisette as a forward rolling God in a tutu, the film explores the consequences of refusing to forgive. It asks, at what point do we let it drop?

For me it is easy to forgive the dead. Death seems to be a clear threshold, the final door to leave your grudges outside, when bygones really should be bygones. There is something awful about the thought of sprinkling curses on a grave.

I was lucky that dad and I were close, good friends, so I don’t have anything chalked up against him, not much to wipe off the slate. I’m sure it is a much harder when a relationships is a bit messier, when there is stuff in the way. But all the same, when I miss dad, I miss him toenails, temper and teasing and all. There is a kind of beautiful acceptance in that.

Once someone is gone I guess we have license to rewrite the story a little and grief can give a rosy tint. The living are harder to forgive. They’re here, walking, talking, and bloody-mindedly resisting being remodelled into a repentance that they might not feel.

I’ve written before about how I’ve felt let down by many of my friends. Yesterday one of them called me, probably to check how I am – only I don’t know for sure because I didn’t pick up the phone. I’m was too angry, just a bit too hurt by their silence before.

It strikes me as more than a bit stupid that I am punishing someone for something they don’t know they’ve done, a hurt they have no idea they’ve caused. Particularly since I’m robbing myself of the support I need by doing it. But that is exactly what I’m doing. Huh.

Its almost funny – at some point in the future I will think ‘Y hasn’t spoken to me in months’ and it will entirely my fault for not answering their call – no doubt I’ll have conveniently forgotten that bit of the story by then. These are the mole hills that grow into mountains…

I remember having a eureka moment about 10 years ago – it suddenly dawned on me that my boyfriend could not read my mind, he genuinely had no clue what I was upset about. That seems so obvious I laugh that it was a revelation to me, yet I still expect my family and friends to mind read long distance.

I have never really thought about it like that before – how utterly unjust it is for me to punish someone for something hey’re not aware of, that I’ve haven’t mentioned, haven’t given them any opportunity to explain. It seems I have been running a kangaroo court and I hadn’t even noticed. For God’s sake don’t tell Amnesty!

Death kind of shifts the goal posts anyway. A reminder of mortality really forces you to reconsider what really matters and it turns out its a short list.

Next time I find myself starting to build up a grudge I’m going to ask myself whether it is worth carrying. I don’t think that means I have to be a walkover, but one day we will all be dust and I want to leave light happy dust! I think forgiving a little bit more will go a long way in getting me at least some of the way there.

And, as Oscar Wilde said, ‘you should always forgive your enemies – nothing annoys them as much’!

I’m also going to challenge myself to be fairer; if someone has upset me enough for me to lug bad feeling around with me, I need to let the other person know. I can see I’m going to have a few calls to make…

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8 Responses to on letting it go…

  1. What about forgiving ourselves when we know we were wrong, when we know we caused someone hurt and they just won’t forgive us?
    Forgiving ourselves for unintentionally making someone leave, when we love them, truly, is a hard thing to do as well. Especially when you’ve done everything you could to let them know you’re sorry, but they won’t come back.
    Nice, really nice post.

    • Hey felipe, thanks for sharing your thoughts. I didn’t write about it here but I think self forgiveness is probably the most important and sometimes hardest type. I’ve really worked at forgiving myself for some things – by thinking I did what I thought best at the time. However on a few occasions I knew what I was doing was wrong at the time and still did it which is much harder for me to let go of. I think you have to just make a commitment to trying to keep forgiving yourself and having compassion for yourself… But no quick fixes.

      • Thank you for your kind words. I “lost” my girlfriend three weeks ago and it really seems like I’m off my ground since then. I gave her a reason to be mad about, but I guess for a long time all she needed was a reason to tell me we should break up.
        I’m really back and forth between “it’s my fault” and “she was just waiting for the moment I’d make a mistake”.
        Either way, I can’t seem to get my emotions in check and I’m having a hard time forgiving myself. Reading your post helped me taking a deep breath though. Thank you.


  2. jojopant says:

    I completely agree with your point about mind reading :), but allow me to differ when it comes to forgiveness. As far as I have seen it, and I have seen only a few deaths, out of which maybe only one was a person to whom this situation applies… it’s not any easier to forgive a person after death, because if you always believed that he/she was wrong and you were right, well, now there is never going to be a sorry from their side. So, it stays.

    Anyway, apart from this. Wonderful post.
    And having said that, I agree that we all are different people and react differently to different situations.

    Take care.

    • Hey jojo, thanks for visiting and for your comment. I think what I meant about it being easier to forgive the dead is that once someone is gone there is nothing left to lose in letting go and also that distance gives us a kind of power to rewrite the circumstances – but of course that may be impossible in practice and I think some things will always be incredibly hard to forgive.

  3. I have dutifully made my phone calls.. and those mountains really were mole hills!

    • Glad to hear that!
      You’re going to have a better week now you dropped that pseudo-burden. Woot!

      • Small steps eh? I was sorry to read about your loss – a bad breakup can be pretty brutal as well I know. When things don’t make any sense and your up past your eyeballs in hurt and doubt and confusion sometimes all you can do is take a breath, hang on and know that things will shift – they always do one way or another. I guess change is are only certainty. Wishing you strength!

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