Friday, January 09, 2015

Weekly Inspiration: How and Why to Forgive

I have been struggling a lot lately with forgiveness in my personal life. Despite wanting to let things go, I know that I am holding onto a lot of old hurts and resentments, especially with one family member in particular. Things came to a head over the holiday season, as they do occasionally, and we had a huge fight, and all those old resentments that I was trying to forget came to the surface again. Most of these hurts date back to the first years of my illness, when I felt like I really needed my family - perhaps for the first time ever in my otherwise content life - and they weren't there for me. There was a lot of denial on this side of the family, and I was deeply, deeply hurt. Those wounds are still tender now, almost 13 years later. I wrote more about my ups and downs with family and what I have learned in this older post (very funny and telling that when I wrote this post in 2012, I thought that all those old hurts and resentments were behind me!)

After this latest blow-up at Christmas-time, I realized I needed to focus more on forgiveness. I've tried in the past, but I'm obviously not completely succeeding. Holding onto this resentment is not only harming my current relationships, but it is also harming my health - I can feel how those resentments eat away at me, cause me stress, and make me sicker. I know that I need to recognize that the people who hurt me are not going to change, and, in this case, won't ever even admit that they did anything wrong or apologize (to do so, they would have to admit to themselves how much they hurt me). I realize it's up to me - I need to move past these old hurts, and I need to forgive.

In my search for support, I came across this wonderful playlist on TED.com: How (and Why) to Forgive. It's a collection of 6 short talks, all on aspects of forgiveness. There are excellent talks on compassion, on the Golden Rule, and even on forgiving a parent that I found directly applicable to me. But even the talks that I thought at first didn't apply to me - like the first few about forgiving strangers whose actions dramatically harmed someone or changed their life - are also applicable. They made me think, "If these people could manage to forgive these strangers who harmed them so much, then certainly I can forgive my family member with whom I also have so many wonderful, loving memories in addition to the hurts." And I dare you to watch the short talk from the two mothers on opposite sides of 9/11 without a tear or two!

In short, this weekly post is all about inspiration, and these talks have all inspired me. Check them out for yourself. Playlist: How (and Why) to Forgive.
(sorry - since it's a whole playlist, I couldn't imbed the video this time - you'll have to follow the link to the TED website)

I know from lots of discussions with others with ME/CFS that we all have hurts and resentments in our lives - the friends and family who don't understand, who weren't there when we needed them most, who continue to say and do hurtful things. Whether you want to repair and maintain those relationships or not, I think we can all benefit from forgiveness and letting go of that black scourge of resentment that makes us sicker.

What are your hurts and resentments that you need to forgive? Better yet, please let me know if you have been successful in forgiving someone who hurt you or any other resources that might help me in my own quest.


11 comments:

  1. Great post Sue…I personally have found in Toni Bernhard's book the Metta practice really helpful for easing hurt feelings and a back door forgiveness so to speak by adding the person that I feel hurt by and wishing them the 4 mantra statements I wish for myself…I have learned with this illness so acutely that what I needed I try to give to others which is acknowledgement / validation it goes a long way in helping when others don't know what to do or if they have done enough I often say - you have acknowledged my life has drastically changed and that is the best gift you could give. Wishing you peace. xo heather

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    1. Thanks for reminding me of Toni's wonderful book, Heather. I loved it when I first read it but could definitely use a refresher - I like how you applied her principle of compassion for yourself to others as well. Excellent idea! I really want to vanquish this resentment for good this year!

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  2. Anonymous8:20 AM

    Hi Sue,
    I think you would benefit from reading this thread and the ones linked to in it. It's a complex subject.
    http://www.mecfsforums.com/index.php/topic,8667.0.html

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  3. Anonymous8:38 AM

    oops, forgot to sign that.
    Roy  
    ME/"CFS" since 1970

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    1. Thank you, Roy! I will take a look.

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  4. Wow, I've been going through this also. I've been obsessing about it. I have five siblings. Three brothers and two sisters. I get more compassion from my brothers. They don't judge me. Sadly, I've tried to communicate with one of my sisters, but don't think she knows how to communicate in a mature, healthy way. I feel so much hurt that neither of my sisters can be here for me. They don't even believe that I'm ill. They don't understand the ups and downs. So, if they see I went out and was having a good day then I guess it means I'm not really sick. However, I only put pictures up of when I'm feeling well so no one really sees all the days I'm sick. I feel like I can't win. I don't like talking about when I'm sick because I don't want pity but if I try to act like I'm fine then of course they aren't going to understand. I'm so frustrated. How can I help them understand, especially when it is so difficult for me to even understand. One of my sisters and I have always had issues so this just makes it that much harder. I actually found an email between her and a friend who she barely knew and she straight out said I think that my sister's illness is all in her head! I've been trying to forgive. It helps to know I'm not the only one who goes through this. Although, I feel sad that anyone has to endure the pain of a family member who is hurtful in their lack of compassion.

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    1. Wow, Joanne, so much of what you said here could have been written by me! You explained it perfectly - I am the same way. You only post the happy, joyful stuff on social media....but then some people think you're not sick. Like you said, you're not going to post moaning complaints and sick photos! I've heard thru the grapevine that certain family members say, "I saw a picture of her doing X. If she can do that, she must not be that sick." And like you, I've never been all that close with my younger sister and my illness has just made that worse. She admits her way of coping is denial - it came up last year when my dad got cancer, though in that case, she pulled herself together pretty quickly and faced reality. Not so with me. You're right - it helps just to know others are going through the same stuff.

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    2. Well, both my sisters deleted and blocked me from facebook. How mean is that! So, needless to say I am not posting much on facebook anymore. I know my nieces can see my posts so I figure why give them more ammunition to doubt me more. I still talk to one of my sisters and always mention now that I am not feeling "that" well. I think I have been in denial and that is why I have some people not understanding the situation. I don't want to let too many people in "my world'. I just want to be normal so I guess that it is partially my fault and I need to be more open about my illness and not put on a facade. I think many of us feel embarrassed by this illness because so little is known about it and the medical community doesn't support us. However, the more we let it out in the open the more awareness there will be so I need to remember that. Thanks Sue for this post, it has helped me so much!

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    3. Oh, Joanne, so sorry for the lack of understanding in your family. But what you've said just emphasizes that it;s not our fault...because my approach is exactly the opposite! I am very open and honest about my illness - always have been. That's just me. I have always been open with my family & friends - try not to focus on it too much because I understand chronic illness makes many people uncomfortable but have always been honest and matter-of-fact about my symptoms, illness, etc.

      So, there you go - two different approaches with similar responses from family!

      It DOES help to talk to others who get it - thanks!!

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  5. Anonymous7:36 PM

    Sue -
    I am a senior nursing student from Lincoln, NE that is taking a course over chronic illness. This semester we are assigned a topic to research and I was assigned CFIDS. I was wondering if you would be willing to email with me so that I could hear the true perspective of a person with CFIDS? I can do research online, but hearing what life is like from a real person is what I want to learn. My email is rebecca.butler@bryanhealthcollege.edu. Please contact me if you are willing to discuss this! -Becca

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  6. It's easier said than done when it comes to forgiveness. We can think we're over it but something triggers those old hurt feelings to come back. I hope for the sake of your health, you are able to forgive and put it behind you again. Thanks for sharing this valuable info with Small Victories Sunday Linkup and hope you join us again this weekend! Pinning to our linkup board.

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