AdministratorAugust 10, 2020 at 10:55 pm
I am doing a special piece for the Yomim Noraim edition of Ami magazine on deep, difficult forgiveness, the type that comes through very hard work and after a tremendous amount of pain and hurt. If you know anyone who would be willing to be interviewed and inspire others through their strength and courage–on both sides of the fence, both as the one asking for forgiveness and the one granting it, please be in touch with me. You can private message me by clicking on my display name and sending me a message, or you can email me at email@example.com. I am SUPER discreet and I will let you read every single word before it gets printed.
If you know of someone who might want to tell his/her story, you can also give them my email address to be in touch with me directly.
AdministratorAugust 13, 2020 at 11:35 pm
So this came in from a member today in response to my post–obviously posting it anonymously (with permission, of course!).
I know you said you’re doing a piece on forgiveness, but please can I be totally controversial for a minute and talk about non-forgiveness? I know that forgiveness is a very Yiddishe value. Hashem created teshuvah even before He created the world, the point being that there is an ability to rectify what we have done wrong. But what if your whole life you have been abused by people (parents, in my case) and you have been conditioned to bottle things up and be nice and forgiving and you have never really learned how to set boundaries or really feel ANGER and even RAGE! What if your avodah is not to forgive, but to really come to terms with the pain and suffering these people inflicted on you?! Can you even forgive someone properly if you have never really waded into the depth of what they have done to harm you?
Sorry if this is very off, maybe I am even violating a hashkafah issue here. I have been doing a lot of thinking lately and when you posted this, my thoughts kind of erupted and I just had to share about it.
MemberAugust 13, 2020 at 11:49 pm
Wow, wow! So so true and I totally agree. I think it’s even harder when someone abused us or if we were in a relationship with difficult dynamics at play. I also think that perhaps the work might be to allow yourself to feel all those emotions, feel them in your body, digest it, process it, and then to do the work of forgiveness. This reminds me of an article I once read by Sarah Eismann in the Family First. She suggested allowing ourselves to feel and then work on the process of forgiving.
MemberAugust 14, 2020 at 4:27 am
Similar to what PassionforWriting said, I think that if you always bottle up your feelings and never allow yourself to feel them, then you won’t be able to forgive. But if you allow yourself to feel them – maybe not in the moment, but later – then you may be able to eventually come to a place of acceptance and forgiveness.
What if your avodah is not to forgive, but to really come to terms with the pain and suffering these people inflicted on you?!
I don’t think it’s a contradiction to forgive and to come to terms with the pain. I’m sure the pain is very strong and it’s important to validate it and to feel the anger. Once you do that though, it usually calms down and passes – you just have to let yourself feel it. Compassionately give yourself the space and time to process your emotions and let them pass through you.
MemberAugust 16, 2020 at 4:03 am
I understand that pain so much because I’ve been there. There was someone in my life who wrecked so much havoc I used to lie awake at night thinking how on earth I could be expected to forgive them, especially since they did not even say they were sorry and continued to ruin my life. It took many years, and then I heard a line, which I don’t quite remember exactly, but went something along the lines of ‘Not forgiving someone is like letting a person you dislike live in your head without them even paying rent’. I realized that this is SO true. Why would I want this person living in my head, 24/7, contemplating how dare they/how could they…But I also quickly realized that there is a difference between setting boundaries and forgiving. If someone is abusing us (i.e being manipulative and controlling) then boundaries must be set. For example, I stopped talking to this abusive person, which, considering the dynamics, was not easy AT ALL and until the dust settled, yes, this person was living in my head. But as soon as things calmed down, I heard something beautiful on one of Dina Friedman’s tapes, that every person comes into our lives to teach us something…nothing Hashem does is random, so we would be wise to take a good look at what message Hashem is sending us through this person’s actions. For example, on my end, I realized that had this abusive person not popped up in my life I would have continued on my merry way, always ignoring my own needs and turning myself into a shmate and giving to other people at my own expense…but because this abusive person came into my life I HAD to learn to become assertive…it took many years and was difficult…I had to learn to tune into my feelings and retzonos…I never would have traveled that road had this person not showed up…so even though it was a painful journey, today I THANK Hashem for sending this person into my life, and yes, even though I limit my contact with him, I forgive him for all the pain he inflicted because without it I never would have grown and traveled the road I had…and thankfully, this person no longer lives in my head!
AdministratorAugust 16, 2020 at 9:25 am
A member asked me to post this response to the Anonymous Poster above–a very personal and very insightful reply:
Dear Anonymous member
“I forgive you” is said in one sentence but takes months or even years to really forgive. I had a friend and I got mentally abused from her. She would take half my life over. She would be insulted if she wasn’t included in something I was. What adults told me: “If you want her as a real friend then you have to tell her that you don’t like what she is doing!” Aha, so it was all my fault! What they didn’t realize (or didn’t want to realize) is that she had a big problem! At some point it all exploded (Cant go into details now) and suddenly it got very clear that she had a problem. (That was when I was out of the “game” already) And everyone started looking for solutions. And then she didn’t want to talk to me. We had to go to an adult to sort it out (her mother was scared that we “won’t manage”. We were 17 at the time!) Since she couldn’t boss me around I was no help to her anymore. Result: I suffer from a very shaky self-esteem, maybe even damaged (yup, I am getting help for that!) What really bothered me though, is that not herself nor her mother or anyone else came to really regretfully say sorry for all those years in school she bothered me. My emotional wound is opening again and again even after it has been about 2 years. I am in pain, very deep pain! It will probably take years for me to completely heal.
It’s ok to be in pain, anonymous member (and everyone else)! It’s ok to feel hurt. You are a human being! What I would advise is get yourself professional help to get over it. But until then, you are allowed to be hurt. After you say: “I forgive” you start working on your pain. You start working through it. And if you do it, you will grow!
I had to forgive my friend because she had a problem but the pain hasn’t gone with that. Until it’s going to go away I will feel it. And boy, will I grow from it be”H!
Hatzlacha Raba to all!
AdministratorAugust 16, 2020 at 10:57 pm
And…ANOTHER anonymous reply I was asked to post on this thread :-):
Yes, yes, anonymous person. You are 100% correct! I also had… problems with parents (mine are divorced) and completely relate! I think forgiveness can take years for these sort of things. Yes, you can feel the anger and pain and not forgive. When it’s someone so close to you – parents – it’s so, so hard. I’ve spoken to a lot of people, and they mostly said what you said – try to come to terms with what happened and eventually (hopefully) you will be able to forgive. But it may be years and years later, and that’s okay. You can take as much time as you need to feel and to slowly accept.
I don’t think this is violating any hashkafic issue, it’s called being human. You need to allow the pain to wash over you, and then you can learn to accept it, and only after can you come to a place of forgiveness.
That’s my outlook on this. Hope I didn’t say anything to controversial. Thank you anonymous for bringing this up – you helped validate me!
MemberAugust 17, 2020 at 12:53 am
With parents forgiveness can be tricky since a parent’s mistakes become our challenges. But I do think a person can’t come full circle in terms of healing if they don’t forgive their parents ( which, like I mentioned above, forgiving does not mean you can’t set up boundaries if you know the person will hurt you). Forgiving is something you do for yourself- instead of walking around full of pain and anger towards someone you walk around realizing Hashem has a plan and purpose. Feelings must be processed, not held onto. Part of processing means acknowledging the feeling is there, and makes sense that it is there, but then you must read the message of your feeling and move on. Walking around life holding onto anger is not the way to live- and it’s not healthy! I think people think forgiveness means that you must acknowledge that what happened to you was not a big deal, which is why people are hesitant to forgive- b/c it is a big deal, and it really hurt and changed your life!
But, I think what forgiveness means is processing the feelings and realizing that there is a bigger plan, a bigger purpose. Coming from a divorced home is so hard-but Hashem has a plan for you- what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. All of our challenges do that to us. And our parents had their own challenges, even big ones, and they didn’t set out to make mistakes and make our lives hard. It happened because they are human, and like all humans they make even big mistakes. And while our feelings must be processed and boundaries must be set when needed, walking around full of anger is not necessary. This, I think, is where forgiveness comes in. I hope what I’m saying is not hurtful to anyone. I know that the challenges are real- but like a seed that must disintegrate before it can start to grow, I think our challenges do that to us- cause us to shed everything we thought we were to start to grow and create something new and beautiful.
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