Ask any member of my family and they will confirm that one of my biggest faults is my lack of forgiveness and more pertinently my inability to say “sorry.” It is not something I can deny, and neither will I apologize for it – obviously.
Perhaps my absence of empathy in this regard has something to do with my star sign – because Leos are renowned for their arrogance – perhaps it is a defense mechanism that I have developed over the years to prevent myself from getting hurt, or perhaps it is because I lack any spiritual influence in my life.
Don’t worry, I’m not the sort of crazy that scratches cars with sharp knives or sews out-of-date prawns into curtains. No, my punishment of choice is much more evil. It is the punishment of silence and eternal banishment to another kingdom, never to be heard from again – so, as you will appreciate, not an attractive quality, and not one that I am not particularly proud of.
The old man has certainly experienced the brunt of my anger on many occasions and once NC and I endured a four-day sulking match when she was still barely out of nappies. However, maturity and the loss of some dear people in my life has taught me that we don’t always get the chance to say “sorry” – which is something that terrifies me, particularly when my grudges, (in hindsight), are particularly shallow. So, while in years gone by I could justify ignoring my father for years, these days I force myself to thaw out quicker and extend the olive branch, ever-conscious of the fragility of life.
That being said, the attitude of the father of the family killed in the murder-suicide last week astounded me. Because I’m certain I would struggle to employ the word “forgiveness” in the same sentence as the alleged murderer’s name, a matter of days after my four children had been murdered in their beds. As you know, I am the staunchest supporter of mental illness, but I cannot condone or excuse murder or domestic abuse on any level. Perhaps, I might muster some small sense of pity on my own deathbed, but in no situation could I see myself forgiving such a heinous perpetration of my family’s human rights and trust in the immediate aftermath of such a tragedy. As the police have confirmed that the father is not a suspect in the tragedy, I can only attribute his quick response to shock, medication or faith. Yet…if he has truly managed to find forgiveness, I have to commend him.
It is important to remember that ‘just as important as defining what forgiveness is, though, is understanding what forgiveness is not. Experts who study or teach forgiveness make clear that when you forgive, you do not gloss over or deny the seriousness of an offense against you. Forgiveness does not mean forgetting, nor does it mean condoning or excusing offenses.’ What it does do, however, is ‘bring the forgiver peace of mind and frees him or her from corrosive anger.’ (Greater Good Magazine)
The wisdom and clear-headedness (!) of age confirms the futility and danger of anger to both our mental and physical health and offers us the alternative solution of removing toxicity out of our lives completely, rather than trying to maintain the perilous ties of a damaging relationship. I am an expert in this field. From British stock – hence, over-apologetic and terrified of confrontation – whenever I have found myself tested and unable to handle the emotional fallout and consequences of relationships-gone-bad in the past, I have either stuck my head in the sand or walked away and severed the tie completely.
However, the problem with that approach is its capacity to leave us very lonely, which is (fortunately) when that wisdom of age can step in again to remind us that some relationships are worth egg on your face and fighting for, and to stop acting like a dickhead.