Tuesday, October 28, 2008


To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover the prisoner was YOU. (Lewis B. Smedes)

I think I am living the above. It may be why I feel so bleak about things – I am carrying around these heavy chains of pain and upset that keep dragging my thoughts and feelings backward, ruminating on the months-ago breakup – it hums as background noise when it's not occupying my conscious thoughts. I’m a prisoner to this relationship gone bad.

I need to forgive him… and it is damn hard to contemplate it when he isn’t remorseful, isn’t asking for forgiveness, isn’t sorry. But I also need to forgive myself, for making the decision to date him in the first place. There were red flags waving from the first day we met - I knew better than to get involved. But I did anyway – scorching hot chemistry – and, ultimately, got scorched. I pride myself on my ability to make good decisions. And I utterly failed to in this case. For nearly six months now, my head has been stuck looping around these parallel stories – of the pain he caused me, and of the pain I inflicted on myself.

So. I could use some inspiration, some wisdom, some quotes, some stories, some advice, about forgiveness. Anyone?


jennypo said...

I recently really enjoyed this item on forgiveness. It's a bit long to be a snappy quote, but it changed my perspective.

When is forgiveness not painful? True forgiveness cannot occur unless the hurt is acknowledged and called for what it is. When you look a wrong full in the face but choose to accept the hurt instead of returning it on the one who did it, that is always painful.

Sometimes we treat forgiveness and justice as though they are mutually exclusive. If we choose the way of justice, we think the options are reparations or retribution--either the guilty person makes up for a wrong or is punished for it.

Justice can never be achieved by reparation or retribution alone, because...true wrongs can never be repaid. The hurt and pain caused are not reversible. Punishing the guilty person does not undo the hurt either, even if it brings brief satisfaction to the victim...

Justice must be about much more than balancing out the wrongs of the world. It must be about making things right, about the kind of restoration that does not reverse the pain, but moves beyond it toward something new.

And just as wrongs cannot be erased by punishment or repayment, they cannot really be erased by simple forgiveness either. ...the debt does not simply disappear. The [forgiver] takes the loss! He accepts the full brunt of the debt himself. Similarly, when a person forgives, he or she accepts the full brunt of the hurt or injustice rather than returning it on the one who caused it. Although it is painful, this is the way that healing and restoration begin.

- Rachel Tulloch

Traveller said...

Hi Slapdash, I still peak in on your blog...and feel guilty that I didn't respond way back, to your response to my comment... ah... I get overwhelmed and bogged down, and wasn't expecting such good questions back. Sorry :o/ can you forgive me?

Forgiveness--all I can say is--'you go girl!' Yes, it is the right path, the only path to healing. It's hard. It sucks, when he doesn't even feel bad. But you already know that you are the one that gets eaten up inside.

Main story that speaks to me, and leaves me baffled when I can see how I have a hard time forgiving even a small thing...is that of Jesus' life, and death, and forgiveness. Forgave 1 who betrayed him even after 3 years of pouring into his life. Forgave those who deliberately hurt...

Desmond Tutu--leading his people in a restorative path after apartheid... folks in Rwanda forgiving those who massacred their family members...these are other examples that might be inspiring.

Press on!

Jim said...

Hi, I recently linked to your blog when converting my 5-year old blog to being solely about my de-conversion. So ... hello!

Anyway, of all the things about Christianity I left behind, forgiveness was not one of them. It's truly a good thing. In your case if your mind is in an error loop, you might need to read up on some cognitive behavioral therapy stuff. There are lots of CBT books at Barnes & Noble that are much cheaper than therapy. I've been there!! Breakups have a way of putting analytical people into an error loop that you can't extricate yourself from. It took me a few years once.

Chin up ... it might also help to go write it all down. Figure out a way to point your thoughts in a direction that only leads to one place: forgiveness.

Slapdash said...

Jim, thanks so much for stopping by. I've been quiet as of late because I haven't quite come out of the fog of this stupid breakup, and thus don't have much good de-con stuff on my mind.

As soon as I read "error loop" I thought - holy cow, this is totally me! I am analytical and get stuck in these crappy doom loops that I can't seem to get out of. I am seeing a counselor but she's not of the CBT school at all - she likes discussing my past and my dreams. Which is helpful in other ways, but not for interrupting these awful stupid thought patterns.

Are there any particular CBT titles you recommend that I could pick up at the local bookstore?

Anonymous said...

Um...hi? Where do I start? I guess a profound thank you is the first order of business. Thank you for publishing this blog. I'm in that ambiguous grey area--a spiritual limbo--where, for the first time in 15 years, I am having a serious, serious crisis of faith. I don't know what I believe anymore, or even if I believe in anything. It's not often talked about, so I just wanted to say thank you so much for putting it out there. Just knowing that I'm not alone, that I'm not the only person to go through this, has done so much for me. I don't even know if you still keep up with this, but I just wanted to let you know that it has mattered to me and made a difference in my life.

Slapdash said...


You're definitely not alone. Finding other bloggers made a huge difference to me, too! So thank you for reading. And here I thought blogging was merely helping *me* to sort out my very jumbled thoughts. :)

Traveller said...

CBT--David Burns (M.D.) has championed CBT in treatment of Depression--"Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy" is the title of one of his best sellers. His focus is depression, and with thoughts determining our moods. Whether or not you think you're anywhere near depression, there is lots of info about common patterns of wrong thinking, how to capture and change them, etc.

OneSmallStep said...

**I need to forgive him… and it is damn hard to contemplate it when he isn’t remorseful, isn’t asking for forgiveness, isn’t sorry.**

I'm not sure how advice-like this will be, but I've often found that it's not the act of forgiving that's hard, it's trying to forgive someone who isn't sorry in the first place. Because on some level, I almost feel like I'm saying it's okay that I was treated like that, that I was treated as though my value was much less than the other person. And forgiveness isn't about saying that at all, it's about letting the anger and hurt go.

So I would say almost that the "work" has to be done in not letting the lack of acknnowledgement get to you, and then the forgiveness could come in time. Yet that is *so* much easier said than done. And I have no suggestions on how to do that. I usually try asking myself if I still want the other person to have the power to affect me in this manner, when that person has waltzed on. Some days, it works.