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To Be Strong - Is To Forgive. Thursday May 22, 2014

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

In the early days with depression, when I really didn't know what was happening and the self harm thoughts would flood in, I would attempt to distract myself in 'tasks'. One of those tasks I clearly remember was to answer the question - 'If you only had six months to live, what three things would you do?'

The reason it sticks in my mind after what must be just over 20 years, is that one of the things that came straight into my head was to call my father and tell him I love him.

Now, this is after growing up in a broken home, where there was always shouting and arguments - leaving home with my mum to stay with my grandmother at 3am on one occasion, due to my father being a rather violent alcoholic.

My mum died when I was 15 and I had stayed most of my life with my Gran and my mum. My father was never really part of my life as mum attended anything I did at school or sports. The worst thing was when my mum died of cancer and my father, who was not welcome at my gran's, came for the first time to the door and was refused entry to see her. I struggled to cope.

Now, here I was 25 years on, having spent little time with my father, who also never hugged or cuddled me, suddenly thinking about calling him as one of only three things I would do if I only had 6 months to live!

Anyway, I did it and it was probably the most difficult phonecall I have ever made. He couldn't speak - told me that he had to sit down and that his whole scalp was tingling - he said he didn't know what to say. The fact was - he didn't have to say anything. What I had recognised over time, was that he did the best he could do with what he had. His childhood had not been pleasant at all - lots of beatings.

There is no doubt that if you hold grudges it certainly diminishes your life in both quality and in life itself. I believe the Gandhi quote above to be very true and recognise how long it took me to be 'strong' enough to recognise that no one really gets up each day to do wrong.

Who can you forgive today? Who can you call and overtly forgive today? Who can you talk to to release your own negative burden and also possibly their own internalised guilt?

Les
A Moodscope member.


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Comments

Anonymous Thu, May 22nd 2014 @ 7:35am

Very evocative, Les. How terrible to lose your mother when you were 15. I have always tried not to hold grudges, and like very much what you did - that phone call to your father- which was a very brave thing to do. You must be a very special person, an inspiration to me, anyway. Thanks for this blog.

Anonymous Thu, May 22nd 2014 @ 8:12am

This is quite close to me as I was emotionally, physically and mentally abused by my ex husband for 15 years. While I wouldn't ring him to say it, I will say it out loud to myself that I forgive him.

Anonymous Thu, May 22nd 2014 @ 8:30am

Very good, i am glad that you took appropriate action and I hope the consequence is a positive healing one for you.
I share the same background scenario as you with dad abandoned me from birth but with a toxic mum . In my case, despite of several attempts to get back to start again, I had to conclude that the only right thing left to do was to walk away.
This was the most difficult and hurting step I had to take. There was a lot of uncertainty and soul searching. I am overall glad that I did what I had to do to regain my freedom and to start living again. I don't hate my mother but I needed someone with a well balance outlook in life and not fly off the handle and put me down for whatever life throws at my mother. I am not her emotional punch bag.
At best, my relationship with my mother is one of servitude as expression of love and dedication. There is no attempt to go beyond building a friendship so whatever concern s I have in life pretty much is my business and not hers. And it has been like this through out my life.

In my case, I had to forgive her in order for my own life to start to grow. Sometimes I despair when I see other people with loving parents, even my friends relationship are better than my family one.! But I guess I had to stay strong . I do what I can and from time to time I falter wishing for my dad's presence and my mum's understanding instead of her endless scathing of scorn and distorted reality and complaints.

My life is getting better now. Its my own life at least I am living and my own responsibilities. I sometimes look back and it does make me sad but I concentrate only in the present now and move forward only.

Steve

Rupert Thu, May 22nd 2014 @ 8:39am

Les that has to be one of the most poignant posts I have read on Moodscope and it speaks at so many levels. So many things remain unsaid or undone in our lives when they could be so different if we did something like you. In a way I guess like your dad we all have to make the best of what we have got including dealing with depressive thoughts the best way we can even if sometimes that leaves us being someone we might not otherwise choose to be. Sorry am rambling but just very thought provoking - thanks.

Anonymous Thu, May 22nd 2014 @ 9:49am

Got to forgive ourselves first! We didn't cause it, we can't cure it, someone else can. Al-anon can resolve all the problems caused as a result of somene elses drinking and help us deal with our own addictions caused as a result of being around dysfunction. We need to understand the problems before we forgive and sometimes we have to pull away and keep people at a distance in order to recover. Thank you for these useful blogs. I am not 'anonymous' just digitally divorced at the moment!

Lyn Thu, May 22nd 2014 @ 10:04am

Hi Les,
I hope life is becoming better for you. I am not yet at the stage I can forgive my husband but hope I can reach it for everyones sake and my peace of mind.
Good luck to you.

Anonymous Thu, May 22nd 2014 @ 10:31am

I can forgive everyone else but much harder to forgive myself.
Thanks Les for honest and brave post

julie

Anonymous Thu, May 22nd 2014 @ 11:04am

Steve reading this blog and your reply to it really touched me so much

You are very brave indeed to walk away from your mum not many people have the courage to do that

sending gentle hugs to you

Cassy x

Anonymous Thu, May 22nd 2014 @ 11:10am

Thank you for this Les it took me a very long time to forgive some that have hurt me in as much as i didnt even realise that at the end of the day the only really person i was hurting by not forgiving was me and it was only after i discovered Lousie Hay that i realised this and over the last couple of years i have found relief and peace in forgiving not only those that hurt me but myself in the process

i choose not to have some of the people back into my life as i have moved on and i am not that person i was infact i will go as far as to say that im still changing hopefully for the better and finding peace and enjoying the simple things

thank you once again

Cassy x

Anonymous Thu, May 22nd 2014 @ 11:47am

Well. I believe forgiveness is a bit misleading - at least in how it's portrayed by many religions and cultures.

First, you can't will yourself to forgive. If you just stand up and say "I forgive you" in order to fall in line with your judeo-Christian beliefs (for example) good luck - it won't accomplish much in terms of inner peace and resolution.ou have to forgive yourself and grieve over how you were hurt by someone else

Anonymous Thu, May 22nd 2014 @ 11:51am

Forgiveness sounds great - unless you were married to or birthed by someone with, say Narcissistic Personality Disorder . It's quite reasonable for these folks not to be forgiven IMHO

Jill Dobbie Thu, May 22nd 2014 @ 12:05pm

thank you Les for such a moving blog. sending you a hug along with my gratitude. I am crying as I know that I can forgive others, but find it so hard to forgive myself. I am making a promise to myself today to try and forgive myself for the mistakes I have made. I hope that can help to heal me too. x

Nathanael Jones Thu, May 22nd 2014 @ 1:59pm

Thank you for the important reminder about the huge power of forgiveness. I have needed it myself and try to extend forgiveness to all that have done me harm. Not always easy! At the moment I am battling over needing to keep a soft heart towards my daughter. Your own experience with your dad was painful to read, Les. I found myself making comparisons to my own situation, and bitter thoughts started prowling me. I was very close to all my kids as they grew up. I spent a huge amount of time with them, both caring for them (worked from home so was always around) and having lots of fun out on bikes, at the park, playing games and toys...and I always have hugged my children and told them I love them and am proud of them.
Then I had a breakdown and was pretty seriously ill for about a year. It was the time of my seperation and subsequent divorce. I moved out of the family home, but kept in contact with my children and remained close to them. Then, after my daughter saw first hand how suicidal I was, she stopped coming to see me. My sons spend lots of time with me still, but I have not had even a text from my daughter for over 3 years. She has pretty much ignored my existence. I try to reach out to her through letters but have to be careful not to put pressure on her. After being so close to her I feel really hurt and rejected. I know how vital it is to keep a forgiving and open heart but sometimes I get so sad and hurt by how she is towards me. When I hear about stories like yours, Les, I am both happy (for restored relations) and sad, I was not an abusive or neglectful father, yet my daughter treats me like I was terrible. I thank God for my boys, that they give back love. Not all children do.

Anonymous Thu, May 22nd 2014 @ 2:43pm

I too struggle with forgiving myself.

Mary Thu, May 22nd 2014 @ 3:26pm

Thank you so much for sharing this, Les: it is moving and heartfelt and reaches many of us on many levels. Sending warm thoughts to all the hurting souls who have replied above, and especially Nathanael.

Anonymous Thu, May 22nd 2014 @ 6:33pm

Wow Les, I always enjoy your contributions but this one was particularly powerful. Thank you for your honesty and bravery, very inspiring. Amy x

Lynn Farmer Thu, May 22nd 2014 @ 7:24pm

This makes me so sad. I am appreciative you shared. I read all the comments. I wish there was a way to decipher when an "Anonymous" commented a second time. I so need help, just a hand up. I have a loving husband. He's worried. I fell into despair for three years... and then this last year we have worked so hard for me to come out.... I find as I venture out to be with people/family I have no resilience to human behavior. How can I forgive what devastates me- when I can barely stand in the midst of my devastation. I have no stamina to poor behavior. I don't understand rude, cruel behavior. I wonder if in all the trauma my husband and I went through for a several years (and then I crashed and sat in a chair for 3 years,) if I developed a horrid personality disorder. I have no resistance. I want to run back into hiding and yet I want to live... and I can't. My background is that of Les'. Alcoholic, violent (to mother) father. A mother who was like the "Mommy Dearest" mother. Almost died a number of times as a child. Had polio - was paralyzed - recovered - now have postpolio. One of our children made every bad choice a teen could make; we took him through it all. Our daughter became engaged to an abusive man was with him for 7 years. I fought with everything I had for her. She turned on us... married someone else. She has a sever anxiety disorder where she turns on us to this day, if she feels threatened; even when she knows the threats are unfounded. We fought for 6 years to get two of our other grandchildren out of a meth environment. They are doing well now. Everyone is... but I crashed and sat down not to get up for those three years. I have forgiven everyone... I have an ability to see the good pieces in others. I forgave my father years ago. I stood before him in my early 30s and read my letter describing the fear and hurt from the violence. After I was done... He looked at me and said, "Honey, it wasn't that bad." I said, "Dad to me as a child it was that bad." He disconnectedly looked around and asked me if I wanted some chicken eggs. A frightened-hurt little boy appeared stood before me and I forgave him after all he was the results of a little boy who accidentally shot his beloved sister at the age of 10. His father was drunk at all times according to a book written about his family. I just hurt... I hurt so badly and I just want a hand up. I want to live life... I don't want to go back to that chair.

Julia Thu, May 22nd 2014 @ 7:41pm

Yes I think you have to forgive yourself too. I am still grieving and cannot forgive. I don't think forgiving that person who damaged me so much will help me at all. But my situation doesn't involve a family member like Les and I am sure I would do the same as Les in his circumstances. I found it easier to forgive my sister for example for wrongs she has done simply because she is family.

Anonymous Thu, May 22nd 2014 @ 8:45pm

Lynn, my heart goes out to you; you have been so strong for so many years for your nearest and dearest - it is no surprise that you crashed for three years. I assume that you did get up so you do have the tools to do so again. Maybe you dread doing so because you remember how tough it was to do so last time. Cassy earlier (11.10 am) is right in what she says. Louise Hay is very good and might be your "hand up". Or maybe it is time for you to get a professional helping hand up. I wish you gentle, quietly determined courage for your ongoing journey. Frankie

Les Thu, May 22nd 2014 @ 11:22pm

I wish to offer a thought.

I am struggling myself just now with my depression just the last week after 8 months clear.

My wee thought is, that if we open our hearts and 'show weakness' or is it simply showing authentic humanity.....it enables the opportunity for others to 'feel' something.....as we have possibly seen above.....maybe crucially that 'we' are not alone.

So much written above is true......the sticking point is often to forgive ourselves.

If others behaviour is so bad as to cause 'damage', as my fathers was, we may simply have to walk away and forgive ourselves for doing so?

The key thing in our comments is to offer what we felt from what we have read and to resist the 'logical' thing and offer a 'fix'.......opportunities of authors or poems for sure.......but how we get into the deep water of that meandering river where change takes place is to take the risk as people have done above to offer what they 'felt' from my blog.

From my present struggle, where I almost avoid my lap top until I can function a bit by late afternoon, can I thank you all for participating in this 'blog'.

I attempt to write 'stuff' that can emotionally connect and that is also always a 'risk' - I wondered if this blog would be too much - yet once again the comments reveal that by taking those risks we can open doors of opportunity.

I'm not saying everyone is able to 'risk' - yet to move again we all have to - and only you can decide when that is, often hopefully with help.

Let me mirror Mary above and send you all my heartfelt thanks - I don't know where my 'answer' lies except of course within me...........writing and such communications people can offer......can be gentle currents that move us steadily into deeper water where solutions or forgiveness of self and others can be found.

Thank you to you all.............

"Things do not change, people do." Alvin Tofler

Lostinspace Fri, May 23rd 2014 @ 12:29am

Have not read every comment as cannot cope with it right now but got to the end and see that Les has trouble with his laptop, I was keeping quiet about my inability to communicate by e-mail/computer - I just look at the thing and can't face it. Make enough effort with my children so they don't guess and that's about it. The problem is getting back in touch after being away for months. Thanks for sharing Les, glad to know it is not a "unique" quirk of mine!

Lynn Farmer Fri, May 23rd 2014 @ 1:10am

Thank you Frankie. You are kind and caring. I was strong and brave for years. I always thought brave meant you marched through something even if you were terrified because you believed in the cause or loved so much your own fear was of little consequence ... and then I broke. No I haven't gotten up-not really. I have made running starts, as of last April, 2013. However, I envision that it's been like in the first Star Trek series, when they so awkwardly and archaically would get beamed to this location or that and there was always the risk they'd arrive with only some of their "particles". I think most days I arrive with only some of my "pieces" intact. This is not my blog and I don't want to make it "all about me." I will just keep reading on this site for a few days and see. You've been encouraging. The original writer, Les was brave and caring enough to share.

Lynn Farmer Fri, May 23rd 2014 @ 1:13am

There is much you write that I will keep. I am sorry you lost your mom at such an incredibly young-crucial age. It is hard when mom dies and leave unfinished business for their child. My mom died when I was 20. Thank you for your writings.

Lynn Farmer Fri, May 23rd 2014 @ 1:47am

It is the pain you speak of that ripped my guts from within, through out a slow agonizing period of time. It paralyzed my very thinking ability. I had illnesses (child and adult) and an incredible dysfunctional upbringing (mentioned in another comment on here.) I have helped several loved ones through their dying process starting at an early age in my life. I've experienced financial ruin a couple of times. ... AND NOTHING, Nathanael was as painful as what you describe you are going through; the betrayal of our two teenage children, a son and a daughter. (Years of it, throughout their twenties and into their early 30s.) We have one son, who like you, we thank God for each day. My husband and I have presented the same pleadings and evidence to each other as you do; we were good parents. It did play over and over in our own minds and yes, even presented to our two children - as to why they would treat good parents this way...in that we were good self-sacrificing parents. They are much in contrast, to our youngest son who hasreferenced his childhood as "perfect" when compared to many of his friends when they talk. Our children came first... and to become the target of their ruthless cruelty without boundaries and horrific decision making - to the point where our older son's own two young sons became vulnerable; causing us to fight through the court system... well once the two grandsons became safe and our two children who targeted us began making good lives for themselves... I had been ran out... that is when I sat down. It is what you describe you are going through that broke me. I have nothing left in which to stand with any resiliency at all, when my daughter becomes unreasonable. I can't hardly be around people. I can't talk or visit. I have developed vertigo and can no longer drive. I have to walk the dog with a walking stick in case an episode comes over me. I am humiliated, no longer respectable, and it is from the pain caused from the exact situation you are in. The betrayal of an adult child, who regards you as little worth when it comes to getting what they want. Isn't it odd Nathanael, how good parents can become the target. It is something you think wouldn't just couldn't happen. I told my daughter I never treated my father who bruised my mother and step-mother up like she treats her father; NOT because of who he was as a father but because of who I was a daughter. I am so humiliated writing on this blog. I guess people might surmise I am using an alias... Although the picture is me... lol I promise I will not take over and be as active in another blog posting. I feel I need to apologize to anyone who may be reading this... and to you Nathanael, I do feel sorry for your pain.

Julia Fri, May 23rd 2014 @ 8:02am

Les I am sorry to read that you are not in such a good place right now. But you write so eloquently even so! I will always remember something Leonard Cohen once said in an interview (it's on you tube). He said that to be able to write (poems, songs, anything when depressions hits or as a depressive is a "victory " over depression. Perhaps you are winning Les. You may not feel it but to be able to write as you do looks like a victory to me.

David Jarvis Fri, May 23rd 2014 @ 11:09pm

Wow, that's a really powerful and healing message. Thanks Les.
I agree whole heartedly with the sentiment that we are all doing the best we can at each moment in our lives. We like to judge and say we would never do something another person does because it adds value to our lives and the so called 'choices' we make.
I also really agree that you have to be in a strong place to be able to forgive. If you are carrying resentment for another's actions it's like you are allowing those actions to be a judgement on you. If you have accepted yourself, it frees you to look without judgement on others. This is such a profoundly difficult thing to achieve though and life is so complex. I just hope that when I have the little moments of clarity I am in the place to be able to act on them.

Anonymous Sat, May 24th 2014 @ 10:20am

Sending you loving gentle hugs Lynn

so sorry when i read your story life can be so cruel and unjust at times i know if i hadnt learnt to start forgiving myself and the ones that have hurt me i would still be in a very dark place

learning to be kind to yourself is the first step and as i mentioned Louise Hay helped me to find my path to forgiving there is also a great series of videos on youtube through a great site called release your wings

here is a link to one of the videos i have in my album
Letting Go of the Past
www.youtube.com
More Videos: www.releaseyourwings.net

i really hope you find your path soon

Cassy xxx

Silvia A Sat, May 24th 2014 @ 11:19pm

I tried to write on the day but the connection was too slow and my comment was not published. I read the new comments. Les I was missing your posts.

To both Lynn and Nathanael, I do not know what to say to help you. During such a conflict is difficult to forgive because it is not a past fact but something that is happening right now. I will use Mary's words, too.

Lynn Farmer Sun, May 25th 2014 @ 4:08pm

Thank you Cassy, I am going to review those videos and look into Louise Hay. The medical-mental health system, (even with good insurance) in the US requires a "sound mind" to navigate (& has long waiting time) in order to get just a "hand up" or "out." My husband and I think turning to others who are making their way...for support may be my answer... as scary as this is... so thank you again.

Lynn Farmer Sun, May 25th 2014 @ 4:12pm

Thank you David, I am going to give this a lot of thought.

Lynn Farmer Sun, May 25th 2014 @ 4:15pm

Thank you Silvia for the affirmation. It's true...there is a route to be found through the expressions on this string. At least these words move each of us forward to emotional health, hopefully.

Anonymous Thu, May 29th 2014 @ 11:44am

Personally I think it's important to remember that whether we forgive or not is up to us. There seems to be a lot of pressure to forgive, the implication being that we will be better people because of it and if you choose not to forgive, then you must be living with hatred and anger in your heart. It's OK to choose not to forgive the father who raped you or the mother who neglected you. Come to your own conclusions and decide your own path to recovery.

Julia Fri, May 30th 2014 @ 8:26am

I do agree with this. I also think that many paedophiles and perpetrators of awful acts of violence, physical and ,mental are and always will be in denial about their abuse; they see their abuse as being kind or justified in some way. What's the point of forgiving someone who doesn't know what you are forgiving them for? I understand totally where Les is coming from however and think I would try to forgive my parents for neglect. However I do believe in forgiving oneself if one is the victim. I think the constant urge to forgive others is outdated though and based on the Bible and other religious teachings.I actually think not to forgive can be quite a powerful thing to do. But not to dwell on it and to be kind to yourself.

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