How Forgiveness Enables Us to Stop Hurting Ourselves (Repost)

132922595_f860a8aa20_bTiny Buddha, as I’ve mentioned before, is an amazing resource. Today I am reposted from Ray Dodd.

“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and realize that prisoner was you.” ~Lewis B. Smedes

I was planning a seminar event with one of my good friends. (Let’s call her “Randi.”) It was a great match; she had event planning and design expertise, and great energy in front of an audience. I understood the structure of such an event, and I authored much of the content.

It was a powerful presentation and we were going to be a great team bringing the material to life. We spent months putting the seminar together: rehearsing, setting the date, booking the venue, designing the graphic announcements, and buying advertising. With only a few weeks to go, everything was in place.

Then I got an email from Randi. She was still going to do the seminar, just not with me.

She had a new boyfriend whom she felt he was more suited to her vision of how to present the material. Without consulting me, Randi changed the graphics for the presentation, one of the presenter names, and charged ahead with her new version of the seminar.

To be honest, I was shocked. I had spent a significant amount of time and money up to this point, and leveraged all of my contacts. I thought we made a great team, and I trusted her without question to carry out the tasks we had agreed upon to make the seminar a reality.

I immediately called Randi but she didn’t answer my calls (probably a wise thing since I was mad). I wrote to her explaining that a great deal of the content in the seminar was my original material, and she had no right to use it.

I demanded that she refund my share of the money we had spent on advertising and the venue deposit. She wrote back that she was sorry, but the answer to all my demands was no.

I was outraged and felt betrayed! I developed a story that I repeated endlessly in my head about what she did, why it was wrong, and how it violated every agreement we made.

Gathering all my evidence I headed to court: not legal court but the court of public opinion. I went to all my friends and laid out the facts—the evidence—and asked them for a verdict. The verdict was unanimous. Guilty!

Now I had plenty of evidence that I was right. In my mind the betrayal was not clouded in shades of grey but was black and white: We had an agreement, I trusted her, and she had violated that trust.

I was right, and yet being right was making me miserable. The more I told the story of what she did, and why it was so wrong, the more unhappy I became.

Simply put, I was using her to abuse myself. But as long as I kept telling the betrayal story—to myself or anyone that would listen—I couldn’t let it go.

Eventually the stubborn attitude, “I can’t get past this,” was no match for the awareness that every time I engaged in my story it was like hovering too close to a hot stove. It was unmistakably clear to me that my insistence on being right was burning me.

Being right (my intellectual interpretation of the event) was a dead end I could never resolve. Repeating my story was like hitting my finger over and over again with a hammer.

It took a while, but the awareness of what I was doing revealed that there was only one choice I could make to get the emotional turmoil to stop.

What finally healed me was forgiveness. In the end I didn’t forgive her because it was the right thing to do. My intellect was too strong and the facts too compelling.

I didn’t forgive her because that’s what good people do. I couldn’t forgive her even though I agreed with what the famous poet Alexander Pope said: “To err is human: to forgive, divine.”

I could never come to a resolution weighing the pros and cons. I simply chose to give up my story, let the whole thing go, and forgave her because it felt good. Forgiveness was the only medicine that would heal the wound I created.

When we can’t forgive someone for an offense, and justify being right about it, we are only using them to hurt ourselves. It’s a trap, a maze of suffering without end.

Being right and getting all worked up about it—our national pastime—only hurts us.

To heal any hurt caused by the perception that you’ve been abandoned, betrayed, disappointed, misunderstood, or unfairly treated takes a double dose of the sweetest medicine of all: forgiveness.

Photo credit.

Recovery Means Turning Toward People

5642629979_aeba31d43b_bA few months ago, God put the perfect person in my life. If you were to meet us, you would quickly think that we have nothing in common but are instead exact opposites. But the main thing we share is our complete belief that life goes better when you trust God. Reaching out toward others and accepting their help and support makes our life much easier.

1.  From Through an Al-Anon Filter:


I have reached a point in my recovery, where I rarely become angry. When I do, I am able to count to ten, remain silent, or speak without heat.Since this last operation, I find myself more short-tempered with all the appointments, visits, chemo treatments, dressing changes for my PICC line (a catheter inserted in my upper right arm and left in for the entire duration of the chemo, six months) trips to get bloodwork, and waiting waiting waiting to be able to do all of the above.

On Tuesday I had to go see a chemo oncologist for my regular bi-weekly checkup, to make sure I was healthy enough for the next treatment. I was sent from pillar to post to try to get the dressing change, because I kept being told by ward and clinic clerks “Oh, we don’t do those here, go there, and they’ll do it for you.” I went back and forth several times before suggesting that one clinic clerk come with me to tell the other, that someone over there was supposed to do my dressing change. I then waited for another hour and a half, so by the time I was called, I was feeling quite annoyed. I’d forgotten to bring a book to read, so was reduced to either Economist magazine, or home decorating.

When I did get in to see the doctor, I was short with her, and said that I didn’t appreciate being kept waiting for an hour and a half. She gave me several reasons, and we talked about it a bit, but I was annoyed, and stayed annoyed throughout the 10-minute visit.

At home that night, I felt that I owed this doctor an amend. So, knowing that the chances of me being able to catch her long enough to make an amend face-to-face were slim to none, I wrote her a two page apology.

This morning she called me at home to thank me for my apology, and we talked for a bit. I’d explained what is going on for me, how I’m struggling with the limitations imposed upon me by the second surgery, and waver between acceptance and anger. She revealed that her daughter had undergone the exact surgery, and asked if she could refer me to another specialty doctor who might be able to help. I agreed, apologised again, and we parted on good terms.

I felt the enormous relief that comes to me after I’ve made an amend that I know I need to make, and I also found my eyes welling up with tears. Had I not been willing to make the amend, we would most likely not have ever spoken about the limitations, we’d just have discussed the cancer. God puts these people into our path, and it’s our choice to either turn away, or turn towards them.

2.  From Oh for the love of …me:

So I made an appointment with a therapist yesterday.

Close your mouth – it’s not THAT big a deal.

Okay…maybe it is.  It’s no secret the way I feel about therapists.  I have three and two of those were a disaster.  The third could have probably turned into something but that was during my quit/relapse phase and I wasn’t ready to hear what he had to say.  Add to that the therapist that my nephew had when he lived with us that not only robbed us of our money but then refused to assist when we were fighting for custody and…

Well, you get the picture.

But I can’t shake this depression! I’ll go for a few days and be okay (not good…just okay) and then I find myself back into it again.  It’s not the crying nonstop (yet) it’s the “I don’t give a fucks” which are far more dangerous.  I’m bored.  I have no initiative to DO anything and so I stay bored.

If it walks like a duck…then it’s probably a depressed duck.

So yesterday I pulled up the website for my psychiatrist’s practice so I could make an appointment with him and get his opinion when I saw that they just added a new therapist.  Hmmm….  I kept reading.  Turns out he specializes in addiction, cross addictions and adult children of alcoholics.

Whoa.  Rewind.  I read it again.  Then I called and made an appointment.

THEN on the bus on the way home, I read my Twitter feed (which I only read when I ride the bus which I haven’t done in weeks…just sayin) and there was a post from a website that I frequent called Band Back Together - here’s a blurb from their website

Welcome to Band Back Together, a community weblog open to all, created by Aunt Becky from Mommy Wants Vodka.

Who are we? We’re The Band.

We’re a band of survivors. We’re here to put a face to everything once kept in the dark. We’re here to show the world that you can go through hell and come out the other side.

So, pull up that old tattered leather chair and make yourself a drink. Pull your skeletons from their closet and make them dance the tango. Alone, we are small. Together, we are mighty.

We are all connected.

We are none of us alone.

Share your story.

It’s time to get the Band Back Together.

I can’t read it all the time because frankly, it’s just too depressing.  But it gives a voice to people who don’t feel they have one – they do good work people.

ANYWAY, the tweet in question was one on adult children of parents with Narcissistic Personality Disorder.  The level of anxiety reading that damn thing created made me cry…on the bus…with other people…not the snotty ugly cry but still.  I sniffled all the way home.   Hmm…

So let’s recap – 1. new therapist that specializes in the effects of my father; 2. specific post about the effects of my mother = latest brick upside the head from God.

So I’ll go and see what this guy has to offer.  I have to do something.  I’m not myself and while I’m not opposed to changing my meds, I want to see what a little talk therapy will do before I go that route.  I feel like I’m in a rowboat with no oars and so I’m drifting into a storm.  My oars – smoking, alcohol, food – have been cast aside and I don’t know how to replace them.

BECAUSE I have no idea how to be “normal”.  I have no idea how the non-addicted people of the world process their feelings, thoughts, events, etc.  I never learned and I’m tired of relying on other people, substances or meds to do that for me.

Time to get to work.  Time to chart my own course.


Photo credit.