Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Forgiveness

Before my dad got sick, I was pretty close to most of my extended family. We spent every Christmas at my aunt and uncle's house, and I visited my cousins and their kids frequently. When my dad got sick, my uncle (his brother) visited often. He insisted on being the co-executor of my dad's estate (along with a bank) and on going over everything that my dad wanted to happen with his properties, etc., after he passed away. Knowing that my uncle was there was an incredible source of relief for me, and I appreciated his support. It was something that I looked for and needed during my dad's illness and especially when he passed away. I felt that even though I was losing my dad, that I would have my uncle. I was wrong.

After my dad passed away, I was shocked and unbelievably hurt when it seemed my uncle just pushed aside everything my dad told him he wanted to have done. He seemed to just forget what my dad told him he wanted to have happen...and even told my mom and others that he had no idea what I was talking about when I said that he knew what my dad wanted. I had sat with him as he wrote down exactly what my dad wanted. I was devastated that he was lying and I had no idea why. Not only that, but he called me "childish" for not wanting to go through my dad's paperwork a few weeks after he passed away, and pushed me to go through my dad's things before I was ready. When I didn't go through these things, I was termed "difficult" amongst other things.

The farm was probably the biggest disagreement we had. He knew my dad's wishes and went against them. He never thought I'd be able to run it and rather then support me, he made things harder for me and told everyone I'd never succeed. At a time in my life when I really needed support, he let me down, and I was incredibly hurt. I stopped talking to him and stopped going to family functions where he would be present. It was too painful and I didn't know what to say to him. It hurt even more when my mom told me he had no idea why I was so upset.

Through it all though, all I wanted was an apology. I wanted him to admit the truth and that he had not listened to my dad's wishes. I wanted him to tell me he was sorry for treating me so badly when I was grieving. But he never did.

It has been almost 5 years since we have really talked. B has tried to talk to me about it numerous times and encouraged me to be the bigger and stronger person...to be the one who breaks the ice and forgives him. If my uncle were to pass away, I know I would be sad if we were still fighting. But I've had a very hard time trying to figure out how to be the bigger person. I'm not one to take a chance of forgiving and putting myself out there so that I can be hurt again...as that sort of thing has happened in the past.

The more I have thought about it though, the more I realize that carrying around this anger and sadness is bad for me. It festers and is something that is always below the surface in my day to day activities. I believe it contributes to some of the general unhappiness I feel with life at times. And I know that forgiving him would take a huge load off my chest. I know I want to forgive him, I just don't know how. I don't know how to put aside my pride and stubbornness, and break the ice. I don't know how to forget something that hurt me so badly. I don't know how to forgive something that was so awful. Some way it has to be done though, and I'm hopeful I can be the bigger person and take the first step. I just don't know how?

17 comments:

Debi Kelly Van Cleave said...

I just finished reading your last few posts about the farm getting auctioned off and all. I don't blame you for feeling sad. I would too. It's been about fifteen years since my family sold my Nana and Pop-pop's little white and red-trimmed bungalow and it still breaks my heart. For years I couldn't even drive past it. A few months ago I did and the new people changed it and wrecked it. It's not the cute little charming Depression-era bungalow it used to be with Nana's rose bushes all over and Pop-pop's white and red-trimmed wagon wheels. He was meticulus. Everything matching. But you know what? It's only a thing. Only a place. THE MOST IMPORTANT PLACE IS THE ONE IN MY HEART FOR THEM. And that's what you have to remember about your dad. You're ready to forgive. You want to. Trust that he's right there with you. He created you. He made you the wonderful person you are and I've never met you but I know you are. That came from your dad. He wouldn't want you to be sad. Forgive your uncle. Hey, I'm not just saying that because I'm one of those people who thinks we should forgive everyone. I don't. You may know the story about the Evils who killed my dogs. I'll never forgive them. They'd do it again. They are evil. But your uncle is not evil. For some reason, maybe a reason you will understand someday, he felt that this was right. One time I had a falling out with my brother. He hurt me. I was mad at him for a year. But then, actually it was after the Evils, and I realized there's a lot worse in the world, I decided to let it go. I thought he's not trying to hurt me. And I called him and told him I didn't like what he did but I forgave him and wow, I felt great. A weight was lifted. We are now closer than ever. You'll be okay. You can get through this.

www.GreenerPastures--ACityGirlGoesCountry.blogspot.com

Donn24g said...

I dont blame you one bit for feeling the way you do. I probably would feel and do the same things, sometimes the worst pain is the hardest to get over. And clearly your fathers death will be resonating with you for a long long time. But someday your grief with morph into simply memories you have and happiness in thought instead of saddness that he is no longer around. But your Uncle, it makes it hard when someone-- no less a close family member- hurts you. But the one thing i read missing through your post is the communication, you both dont seem to understand each other and why you did the things you did. Perhaps your uncle had his own way or dealing with grief though denial or something. I have no idea, and i am definitely not defending his actions. But the one day you do decide to forgive you will probabably feel lighter. YOu carry a lot of weight on your shoulders, you are much stronger than you probably need to be:)
But you will get through this, too, you always do...

ann ominous said...

hmmmm....i think that i find that most times before you can talk to the other person, you have to forgive them inside yourself.

worry less about breaking the ice and worry more about just learning to say 'i forgive him' when he's not there?

forgivenss for me is deeply personal and often times the person i am angry with never has to say they're sorry...it's just ME, I have to learn to let it go and be at peace with what happened and accept that they are...horribly fallibly (spelling) human.

this is why i like horses better.

Sandy said...

I have just read your last few posts and my heart is breaking for you. I'm so sorry for your loss of your dad and your farm. You'll know what to do with regard to your uncle when the time is right. It seems a little too close to the lost of the farm to be able to do that.

Reviewer11 said...

I know it's hard but the key is to keep trying. Keep practicing and soon you'll see it work. Don't give up, be strong and remember to think and surround yourself with positive people and thoughts.

Sending you more comforting hugs. ***


Thank you for posting a comment at my blog. It didn't show up but I did find out by email notification. My blog is having some problem with posting some comments. I just contacted support so I'm waiting to see what they will reply.

From a SITSsta. :)

Cindy said...

You're right, carrying around all that anger and sadness is bad for you.
Is there someone at the church that you can talk this out with? Perhaps they can help you see through to help you find forgiveness.

Queenie Jeannie said...

First of all, BIG HUGS!!!

I haven't been to visit in ages, so sorry! You were ahead of me on SITS today.

Yes hun, you do need to forgive him, for your sake if nothing else. I'll tell you what a chaplain told me. He said they I could forgive someone something "unforgivable" to myself, without actually making contact. When and if you are someday ready, you can make contact with him. But for now, just say to yourself that it's over and that he's forgiven. Imagine setting down that heavy bag of bad feelings and anger, and walking away from it. It works!!!

More hugs!

Mrs. Fish: aka Two Fish said...

Found you from SITS and I have to say this post really hit me. I know the feeling of anger, hurt, resentment on some levels for someone. I found that confronting them and telling them how you feel, not just what they did, but what they did hurt you helps to release YOUR anger towards them and reach that forgiveness. But you first must deal with the ugly pain and hurt from that persons actions. I read a great book called Forgiving the Unforgivable. If you can find it, there is so much solace. I wish you all the best in your search for forgiveness, that is a hard thing to do and you can only do it in YOUR time not when anyone else tells you. In fact, you may have to grieve some more over the pain and the relationship lost with your uncle. I hope you find your peace.

Karie

Kirsty said...

Hi, I'm visiting from SITS.

My heart aches for you. I really do feel that you are right in your instincts, forgiveness is definitely a gift you give yourself and it has helped me to heal from some pretty major traumas which could have destroyed me. I did it for my own survival.

I don't know if you are spiritual but I would suggest praying about it, asking God to help you to release this burden. He really does want to, and will if you ask. It may take time, and forgiveness does not mean condoning of forgetting so don't be frustrated or discouraged if you can't do those things, that is natural. I see forgiveness as just allowing yourself to hand the burden of judgment and condemnation and pain over to God. He can deal with it.

For me, writing about my pain to the person who hurt me helped. Face to face can get out of control very quickly and emotions can mess up the message we wanted to deliver. Maybe you should just send him a link to this blog post?

Saying a prayer that you will find the solace that you are seeking, you do deserve it and I promise that it is possible.
xo

Kirsty said...

PS: I agree with the poster above about finding someone to talk this through with. Therapy can be tremendously helpful.

Lee said...

I understand how you feel. I have had that same issue with a family member. You have to realize that they are who they are. Put it aside and don't take it personally. Once you can come to that realization, you will be at peace with you. Remember that they have to live with themselves, which is the hardest thing to do in the end. For yourself and your peace of mind, try to forgive and move on. Stopping in from SITS.

Blue said...

i thought of you this week when i saw a wolf in yellowstone. and as you may imagine, your post attracted my attention because i, too, am struggling to forgive family members for the abuses of the past. i wanted to forgive them for years...to just move from acknowledging what they did to me to forgiving. i had NO interest in the other stages...and as my therapist has said it's grieving that we're kind of doing. the stages include shock and denial, then anger and sadness, and finally, acceptance. i went from denial to trying to forgive. that hasn't ever worked.

so right now i'm in the anger/sadness part. it's hard being here. i hope i get through this and move on to a place of peace and acceptance so that i can finally be free of these chains. it's so confusing though.

i wish there were a quick way to get on with my life. but accepting that this IS my life, and that i'm having these experiences so that i can learn some important things is useful.

what opportunities is this journey providing me with? what are the benefits that i'm getting from NOT forgiving? (that's an important question to answer). how will learning this stuff help me and others in the future?

if wishing for release from these painful feelings were all that it took, they'd have been gone years and years ago. but i have faith that they WILL be gone someday. and that while i'm struggling through them i am not alone. i have people in my life, and i know god is watching over me. the Savior made it possible for me to be free from all this through his atonement...but i have so much i need to learn still. meanwhile, i'm hanging in there and trusting that i'll be guided and led where i want to be. you will be too, because you have a pure heart.

thinking of you ♥

The Blonde Duck said...

That is so sad. I knew by the third sentence he wasn't going to be good. Usually when one person wants control, they want it their way.

While anger isn't good for you, I don't think you have to forgive your uncle. He went against your father's wishes and drug your name through the mud. You were the child (ish), he was the adult. It was his job to act with maturity. Honestly, I would still limit my contact but don't cut off your family. Be cordial, but don't go out of your way to talk to him or bring up old grievances. And if he starts pitting others against you, leave.

And to heal your heart, maybe write your dad a letter and set it on his tombstone.

Yaya said...

I'm sorry this happened to you. I wouldn't call it being stubborn, I would call it being true to yourself. You know who you are and you know what was right and wrong and you are standing by that. The fact that he is not, well I wouldn't want that in my life. You might be thinking 'easier said than done if you've never experienced it' so let me explain:
My family did my wrong, very wrong. I came to a point where I had to estrange myself from almost my entire family. It was hard as anything, but I needed to do it to stay true to myself. Do I miss them? Yes, but I would miss myself even more.

Aleta said...

I haven't read the other comments yet, but I'm sure there's a lot of good advice (and will read in a minute).. but I wanted to share something with you that I once read.


A man is carrying an empty sack. As he walks through the path of life, every time someone says something hurtful to him, he picks up a rock and puts it in the sack. Over time, the burden is very heavy... those rocks represent the pain and hurt he has experienced. But every time he forgives someone, he can take the rock out of the sack.

The moral to the short story ~ we don't forgive for other people only, we forgive for ourselves as well.

It might help if you wrote and email to him. Explain why you were hurt and why you distanced yourself, what you needed from him. But don't write it in anger.. write it with forgiveness.

You can do this. You're a kind and giving person...

And by the way... when you forgive someone, it doesn't mean that you will be hurt again, because in the forgiveness, you don't suddenly become ignorant. You are more knowledgable about him and will be better prepared in the future.

Marina said...

It's hard to come to terms with what has happened and forgive but then for you to heal completely you need to be able to pray it all over to God and ask Him to heal you and reach that point of total forgiveness for your Uncle. I was in a situation of anger and unforgiveness at one point in my life and know that it only ate me away but did nothing to the other person.That's when I learnt I had to trust God and give it to Him.

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