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How to Forgive Unforgivable


Val is a life-long practically oriented student of effective emotional and attitudinal responses to the many challenges of life.


So Hard to Say Goodbye

It seems to be one of those givens in life when even a lousy fortune teller can't ever go wrong by predicting that, sooner or later, someone we love will hurt our feelings. If that was not so, many of those musical hits telling sad stories about unanswered or betrayed love would never have made it to the top.

As it usually happens, time takes care of most of those hurts to heal of themselves, while leaving just a memory about something not to be repeated -- and then the life just moves on.

However, there are those hurts which at very onset carry with them the seed of a solemn oath "never to forgive". Now, does it really have to end that way? For, sometimes we just don't know the way out of that oath -- while there is still, even if a trace of a weak will to discover it.

Maybe in the name of all those shared good times, with happy memories competing with that hurt in our judging heart. Those that just don't fit into that coffin where we buried that love, with that oath of never to forgive providing all the nails.

Then, maybe there has been all along a nagging little doubt about a possible our own contribution to that outcome. That initial unwillingness to see the whole thing from the other person's perspective, now more and more gives in to a more objective assessment of what led to the behavior causing that hurt.

How about a tiny doubt about our possible overreacting?

Well, a heart of a good person can never contain enough poison for which it wouldn't have an antidote. So, like the few of those songs have already said it before me:

"I's so hard to say good-bye". And even harder to mean it.


Let No One Claim Their Perfection

Now, let's get to the very core of your hurt by thinking of that person in question. As you think about them, try for a moment to strip them of their social image, their "front", and imagine them merely as another imperfect human being -- well, something like yourself, but in their own style of being imperfect.

At this point, it will help to be okay with the notion that our mistakes are not any more "dignifying" than those of other people -- just because they are ours.

So, maybe we never betrayed anyone's faith in us; never let anyone down; never went tactless and inconsiderate towards anyone; never lied about ourselves to make a good impression.

Well, if you happen to be such a person, congratulations, your humanness is so pristine that your only chance of having happiness in a relationship is to find a perfect partner. Please don't accuse me of sarcasm, but -- good luck in that search.

Now, let's test your memory again with another question or two. And please don't think where I am going with that, because I am totally on your side -- just bear with me.

If we were face to face now, you wouldn't even have to tell me, but tell yourself if anybody ever had to forgive you. Besides, let's take a peek into an unforeseeable future, with this same question in mind -- could you be absolutely certain that you'll never hurt anyone's feelings, if only unintentionally.

Speaking for myself, if I ever wrote my biography, one little chapter could be filled with my mistakes over the last 77 years. Many of them were stepping stones in the process of my maturity, but other than those hurting me at the time, there were those that involved hurting others' feelings.

And yes, after taking care of a stubborn pride, I had my own share of having to forgive upon accepting my own imperfection.


Never Met a Saint -- Including in the Mirror

Thus, welcome to the human race, my unknown imperfect friend. While you may, or may not be slowly mobilizing a willingness to mellow down over that old oath "never to forgive", perhaps you are at least starting to second-guess the whole sense of it. I am not a psychic, but since you have come this far reading, I feel that you wouldn't stick to that oath just for sake of stubbornness.

You know and I know how stubbornness is a cheap surrogate for integrity. Every time we talk about other people's mistakes, we sound like we hold a degree in morality; not to mention those who are speaking from a pedestal of an ordained saint.

Indeed, our expertise in these matters are only exceeded by intensity of our hurt. But, while we are so readily mobilizing all kinds of excuses for our own mistakes, why not find enough of that same readiness for other sinners? Again, what makes their mistakes bigger than ours are?

So, why not chill out a little over that issue which made you and that other person drift apart?

For, what's the alternative, indeed? Those perennial phrases tired from overuse are still worth mentioning now and then -- so, yes, life is too short for grudges. Actually, it's too short for any version of a pissed emoting.

Sometimes I think about my slowly upcoming golden age, and how I will look in retrospect at all those things that I used to fuss about. Will I really find an acceptable excuse for all that waste of time and emotional energy?

It's one thing that I won't waste any of that precious leftover time for regrets -- but it certainly will cross my mind, since old geezers are known for making their frequent life-inventories.

Luckily, in mine there won't be a single person whose name is tied to a grudge. At least not a grudge that hasn't been resolved with a wholehearted forgiveness.


Genuine Love Eradicates the Need to Forgive

If you want your sweetheart or friend back in your life, you might as well revise those "contract" matters, or what your relationship is "obligating" the two of you to act like in the name of this or that ideal so unattainable by humans.

No matter how you may choose to go about it, don't forget that you love that person, so you don't want to restart your relationship by "first clearing the guilt" issue. Trust me on that one -- it's a big no-no. Your first words might as well follow a smile with a simple compliment: "Hi, you're looking great."

And if they start with anything along those lines of "clearing the guilt", interrupt gently, and change the subject. There is nothing on your part that may forge the future relationship more than this being a bigger man, by not disturbing the crap of the past, and by showing that you are ready to move on in the name of whatever the two of you ever had going.

You don't want to go backwards in relationship, by sweeping the footprints that led to where you are now -- but look forward into that new version of a healthy interacting, with a new chemistry between the two of you.

Keep loving that person while knowing that love doesn't sit well on fundaments of excuses, explanations, moralizing, and the alike crap -- as if giving a subliminal warning to that person that they had better "walk on eggshells while around you" if they want your forgiveness.

So, give a new definition to your love for that person, and then just about anything will work for you -- once that love doesn't involve a strategy of interacting, but rather a spontaneous and genuine willingness to make the best of it.

Someone said: "A great relationship is not one between two perfect human beings, but one between two imperfect beings who are willing to make it great."

© 2021 Val Karas


Val Karas (author) from Canada on May 13, 2021:

John -- Thanks for the words of praise, my friend. I am glad you liked it. I am tempted here to repeat what I said in response to our friend Brenda, but it's all here, so it will save me-a-lazy-ass, some repeating or rephrasing. Have a great evening... oh, I am confusing myself here with the time zones, it must be early morning hours at your place, so it's more like "have a pleasant morning my Aussie buddy."

Val Karas (author) from Canada on May 13, 2021:

Brenda -- It's my own impression, which doesn't have to be correct, but those who get easily hurt by others' actions don't love themselves enough. They expect too much from others to fill that void in their heart, and to give them what they are not giving themselves.

When we love ourselves and our life, the world comes much easier to be loved with all its imperfections. It's also about emotional flexibility. I was blessed with a sanguine/phlegmatic temperament, so to me it naturally comes easy not to fuss about others' behavior. Of course, I'll swiftly put someone in place when it's called for, but I'll do it calmly, just to let the person know that their acting is not acceptable.

With 56 years of marriage behind us, my wife and I hardly ever raised our voice at each other. Loving is easy when love doesn't mean treating each other as a "possession" obligated to pamper us.

Thank you, dear, for your interesting comment. Have yourself a fabulous afternoon.

BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on May 12, 2021:


What a great article to get my brain thinking.

I absolutely love your last part

 "A great relationship is not one between two perfect human beings, but one between two imperfect beings who are willing to make it great."

Life isn't easy. Love is definitely a cobblestone or two.

If two are lucky to survive these days it's a miracle.

I try to be forgiving to mostly everyone, but some people set that bar pretty high.

I probably do actually forgive, but I never forget.

The likelyhood of me keeping my mouth shut is a hard one.

I'm a bit stubborn...probably just as much so as I'm a free spirit.

Thanks for the thoughts.

John Hansen from Queensland Australia on May 12, 2021:

Much food for thought here, Val. I am one of the last people to throw stones, especially the first one. I never met a person I couldn’t forgive. Forgetting may be a different story though. I love the quote you finished with.

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