Forgiveness can bring closure
Three questions will help you: 1) What were the moral rules that were broken? How did the betraying event break those rules? 2) What were you expecting or hoping to happen that did not happen? 3) What is the meaning of this injury? How long might you expect the injury to last? What, if any, control do you have over it? What are its consequences?
An unforgivable injury destroys our construct of a just world, your faith in justice itself is lost and you sense of trust changes.
The second phase of forgiveness requires taking ownership of your injury. You give up trying to pretend that nothing has happened. All of you defenses – denial, rationalization, repression or projection – begin to give way to an honest acknowledgment that you have been deeply wounded. You stop rationalizing the behaviors of the offender or providing justification for his/her behavior.
The third phase of forgiving forces you to decide who is accountable for doing wrong. Someone has violated a moral code and is responsible for it. Someone must be held accountable.
You might, it should be noted, draw the conclusion that you, along with your harmer, were equally to blame for an injury that altered your dreams and broke your own heart. But most people rightly conclude that the one who hurt them did so to gain personal advantage at their expense. An injurer inflicted his/her will upon you. She/he took from for personal gain or pleasure, and by so doing your wishes and choices were taken away from you.
When you forgive someone, you say to yourself: “The person who hurt me is no longer responsible for the way my life will go. I am responsible now.” When you choose to let go of the pain and ask nothing more from your injurer, you abandon the idea of making that person responsible for your future. But when we choose to expect no repayments, we give up the luxury of having the injurer around to blame for our behaviors or pain.
Forgiveness acknowledges that there was caring, then pain, then a freeing of the self to go on with what remains of life ahead. Forgiveness thus closes a door. The door you left open may be the vain hope that an abusive parent may still offer the unconditional love that you were deprived of as a child. Or you may secretly believe that an old lover will leave his/her current partner and return to you even if your relationship has been over for years.
Source: “Forgiving The Unforgivable” by Beverly Flanagan (Wiley)
Neil Rosenthal, a licensed marriage and family therapist in Boulder, will be co-facilitating a single’s river canoe weekend “How People Connect” on June 25-27, and a couple’s river canoe weekend titled “Adding Romance and Spark To Your Relationship” on August 6-8. For more information, call (303)
449-6578. Rosenthal can be reached at (303) 758-8777 or e-mail at his Web site http://www.heartrelationships.com