Sunday, February 24, 2008

Fugue on Forgiveness

I've always like the word "fugue" because of its dual references to music and psychiatry. So, a polyphonic composistion or a disoriented amnesiac state.... your call. See which one fits.

I went to church this morning. It's a campus church at NIU, so forgiveness came up as a theme a time or two. When the music started to get to me (about 1 second in) or the homily started to lose focus (about 6 minutes in), I went off on my own mental meanderings about the forgiveness that is eluding me.

Anger is also eluding me, for whatever it's worth. I can't sustain it. It takes too much energy. But that's not quite the same as saying that I've forgiven Dave, either. Anger and forgiveness apparently aren't opposites. And let's just be clear that I have nothing like the project of forgiving the person who shot and killed my children, as 5 sets of NIU parents have. I can't even begin to imagine how one would undertake such a project. So I am very aware of the triviality of my dithering.

My first thought... Dave doesn't deserve forgiveness. Ummm.... yeah. Since when is that the point? But it matters. I don't want to fuel his enormous sense of entitlement. "See, I can do all the wrong things, create mayhem in other people's lives, and they forgive me. Aren't I just the cutest thing?" I can't even stand thinking about it. But of course, I'm supposed to forgive anyway. Forgiveness only makes sense if it's a gift. Resentful forgiveness must be some kind of misnomer. And certainly I'm aware that I've been forgiven when I didn't deserve it.

A possible answer to the first thought is that I should forgive not for him, but for me. Forgiving him would (or might) free me. But really now... can there be a self-centered reason for authentic forgiveness? That seems improbable.

Next up is the thought that I might as well forgive him since he matters so little to me any more. But that's not forgiveness; it's disdain. We're getting nowhere fast. Aren't you glad you don't live in my brain???? Count your blessings.

Might forgiveness prevent me from vigorously defending my own needs and preferences in the divorce settlement? Or can a person forgive and simultaneously accept no more crap from the other person EVER?

Seventy times seven. Turn the other cheek. Forgive and forget. Dave doesn't even know if I've forgiven him or not; we haven't spoken in months or e-mailed in weeks. What difference does it make if I do this or not? The best I've come up with is that I don't want to be the kind of person who doesn't forgive. That's pretty unconvincing, as theological positions go.


Renee said...

To everything there may be a season, but the time to forgive your lying, cheating soon-to-be-ex is *after* the divorce is final, the dust has settled, and you have had more time to get perspective on everything. Personally I think it's too soon to expect this from yourself.

I was just rading about forgiveness this morning, or was it yesterday, it's all a blur. Anyway, it was a section in Meditations from the Mat, and how we cannot fully forgive ourselves for the screwed up ways we've behaved unless we forgive others. I'm still not sure I can muster up forgiveness for my step-mother, although I can understand her and her actions a little more now.

lonelywombat said...

Forgiving is really one of the most difficult things to do and you can't fake it. I was doing a visualization exercise during a counseling session and I had to try to imagine looking at my anger. It was a skittering spidery looking thing with a hard dark shiny shell that was trying to hide. I had to forgive someone in my life for some pretty mean things. That took quite a while. Maybe you can try to forgive someone for the majority of things they've done to hurt you but it is probably unlikely that you can forgive everything. I kept something back, I said I will never forgive you for this one thing you did. I felt a lot better when I did the best I could and that was that.

Elisa said...

I think it's way too soon. I'm still working on trying to forgive my parents for the crap they did 30 years ago! Yeah, at least wait till the divorce is settled -- I have a feeling you may have a few more things to have to try to forgive before all is said and done.

Lexy said...

I think there are different levels of forgiveness and you could "forgive from afar" for now. His leaving isn't ALL bad, is it? So maybe you could forgive how it happened, because you're finding a new, better life, but not him?

I think it will happen in pieces.

Learning about your dark side is also part of the process. Nope. It isn't pretty. But once you acknowledge and accept that the always helpful/nice Andrea has dark places also (as we all do), then the forgiveness can begin.

Right after you psychically burn the bastard in effigy. No real life harm done and your dark side has had its say.

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