Last evening, he said that I don’t forgive him. (He has said this before.) I told him that I do forgive him, but that he keeps doing the same things over and over again and so I don’t trust him.
He asked me what I meant. I told him that his emotional energy wasn’t in his family, that he lived in his own world, that he does what ever he wants. I told him that he bought a tractor for his use, for his dad’s use, but he wouldn’t buy a car for his daughter’s use. I told him that he took time to do his employee’s personal taxes, that he took time to take his dad to a specialty grocery store thirty miles away, that he took time to take his dad to give blood at the Red Cross, but he wouldn’t take time to take my cat to the vet for me. I asked him to see the pattern, to try to understand what I am saying and how it hurt me, but he just started telling me why he couldn’t have taken my cat to the vet.
This morning, I am thinking about what forgiveness means. So I decided to look up the definition of forgiveness. Here’s what I found on Wikipedia:
“Forgiveness is the renunciation or cessation of resentment, indignation or anger as a result of a perceived offense, disagreement, or mistake, or ceasing to demand. punishment or restitution.”
And from Merriam-Webster:
Definition of FORGIVE
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) : pardon <forgive one’s enemies>
So, do I forgive him?
Since the definition of forgiveness includes giving up resentment, maybe I don’t forgive him. Sometimes I feel so angry that he hasn’t been a father, that he hasn’t been a husband.
Or maybe it’s me that I don’t forgive. Maybe I don’t forgive myself for marrying someone who wouldn’t support me and my daughters. And it’s just easier to resent him than to admit to my part in it.
Recently I heard a message about forgiveness and reconciliation. Basically, the idea was, you can choose to forgive, but there can’t actually be a relationship, reconciliation, unless there is a change in behavior. So, say you find it within yourself (or with help from a Higher Power) to forgive your abuser. That is good. A first step. But, there won’t be reconciliation, a relationship, until the abuser stops the abuse.
My husband heard this message the same time as I did. He pointed his finger at me (figuratively) and said, you don’t forgive. I, on the other hand, said, you don’t change your behavior.
I guess I need to think more about the resentment that I carry and about forgiveness.
On one level, my reaction to what he does is, “whatever.”
But on a deeper level, it hurts. It really hurts. I feel betrayed.
And evidently, that doesn’t matter to him.
So, I need to let it matter to me and take better care of myself.
And forgive myself.
And let go of him.