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PostPosted: Mon Jul 28, 2014 7:10 am 
Partner's Mentor

Joined: Mon Mar 23, 2009 1:20 pm
Posts: 1422
These are definitions I found in online dictionaries.
a : to give up resentment of or claim to requital for <forgive an insult>
b : to grant relief from payment of <forgive a debt>
: to cease to feel resentment against (an offender)

to grant pardon for or remission of (an offense, debt, etc.); absolve.
to give up all claim on account of; remit (a debt, obligation, etc.).
to grant pardon to (a person).
to cease to feel resentment against: to forgive one's enemies.
to cancel an indebtedness or liability of: to forgive the interest owed on a loan.

I think most of us learn early on that forgiveness tends to mean different things to partners and addicts. Early in their journey many addicts want us to “forgive and FORGET.” It would seem that their definition, at that time, means not facing themselves or others. Just move on as if it never happened.

We partners also define forgiveness differently and that’s okay. Some of us define forgiveness according to our spiritual teachings. Some of us accept the above sort of definitions. Some of us are very practical in our definitions. Some of us accept the philosophy that we forgive for ourselves, not for the transgressor. BTW, if you haven’t yet read Janis Abrams Springs book on forgiveness, I strongly recommend it.

I’m interested in hearing how others define forgiveness and when they offer it. For me, forgiveness means granting pardon. In my case, I have not forgiven my ex and probably never will. He still owes me a debt. He does owe me a sincere attempt at making amends & will probably never do that. For me, making amends, or at least trying to, is a prerequisite for forgiveness. For me, forgiveness is not something I need to do for myself. I remain angry. Why shouldn’t I? C nearly destroyed me and there are consequences of his addiction that will affect the rest of my life. For me anger has been a positive healthy emotion. My anger has motivated me to leave, to create a new, good life for myself, to protect myself and to take steps to help others. (That's the way shortened version.) If my anger had been of the bitter, corrosive, or violent type, I hope I would have found a way to change that without offering forgiveness to someone who hasn’t repented and still owes a debt.

Any thoughts?

PostPosted: Fri Aug 01, 2014 9:49 am 

Joined: Thu Oct 11, 2012 2:02 pm
Posts: 420
I agree with you - forgiveness is very complex, covering a wide range of feelings, choices, actions, etc. It is especially challenging to communicate forgiveness, but we may be expressing a willingness to offer one kind of forgiveness and the offender thinks he is receiving another. My husband & I read "How Can I Forgive You" and I definitely found it validating and helpful; he however was only able to internalize small portions of its message, because he hasn't let go yet, of his idea that forgiveness is full pardon. He's moving in the right direction, but he is far from being ready to make amends.

But this wasn't about or for him, really...I think what you are talking about - what really matters - is the role forgiveness can play in healing. I see layers to it and some can lead into others - or not. For instance, and he still has difficulty appreciating this, I consider every morning that my husband wakes up with me next to him a sign of forgiveness. He's not entitled to have me here. He actually made choices that would suggested I should not be here. I offered grace when I chose to stay and weather through this with him. Even while I was still reeling and angry and confused and hurt - even when he felt like I was in every way not being forgiving - it was a sacrifice of my pride, my worth, my ideals, etc., to continue waking up in the same house. It was a choice, an action, something I didn't always feel like doing, but I did it anyway, because I chose to do it. This is from now on - every single day of our lives together, he is receiving this grace from me. Because he let me out of the vows when he broke them, as far as I'm concerned.

I think I could probably come up with a thousand similar examples, where I used my values and reasoning as a guide to make choices toward forgiveness, even while I still felt very angry, hurt, and unforgiving.

My main point, though: I want to mention that I definitely sought forgiveness, along the way, hoping that it would be a sort of anesthetic to my pain. I hoped that somehow the right choice of pardon, empathy, or understanding could make the sensitivities and sorrows go away. This never happened.

The only thing that eases the pain is finding my balance, holding my boundaries, and enforcing the consequences I need to when they are violated. That is actually when the "feeling" of forgiveness is able to take root the strongest for me - when I am standing my ground, upholding my values, and protecting myself when I feel unsafe, hurt, or uncomfortable. I had a lot of trial and error, before I had enough awareness to realize that some of my boundaries had to actually be far more sensitive than they ever would have been pre-dday. I have found that the discomfort I used to be willing to weather, especially when it comes to lewdness or vulgarity, I simply cannot. It throws me off balance and brings my hurt back to the surface. So I have adjusted my boundaries and find I am much more stable. And when I am more stable, I am better able to react with grace and forgiveness. I think forgiveness, really, comes from a place of calm, safety, and stability. You can move toward it, even while you are still in the storm, but you will struggle to feel it until you are in the right place with yourself.

And that, of course, is what the workshop is all about - may you find yourself moving in the direction of peace and stability, too!

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