In Creating Happiness by Barbara Jacoby

This is a tough one if you ask me.  I know that there have been many times when I have forgiven another person for having said or done something when I know that they had no intention to cause the hurt or harm that they did.  After all, no one is perfect and we often blurt out comments that were not intended to convey the message that the recipient received.  And often, something that is said or done has been delivered in a poor manner, not because of the message but rather because of the mood of the messenger.


Then there are the events that occurred a long time ago that we have been carrying around as part of our own personal baggage.  I know of no one who has had the “perfect” childhood and/or experience in growing up.  We can choose to blame our parents for all of the choices that we make in our adult life and for all of  the things that they did not teach us or all of the perceived ways that we were treated poorly.  I believe that the vast majority of parents do the best that they can in raising their children.  But most parents raise their children by employing the techniques that their parents used in raising them or the exact opposite of how their parents raised them if they perceive that their parents got it all wrong.  For me, I applaud the way I was raised and what I was taught. But, it took me many years to realize that although my perceptions were correct in most cases about specific ways in which my parents interacted with me, I came to an understanding of why they did what they did.  Once I had that understanding, I realized that there was nothing to forgive and that my parents had done an unbelievably fabulous job under some very tough circumstances.


In my first marriage, I was abused both physically and mentally.  For many years, I dealt mostly with the day to day fears and doing what was necessary in order to survive.  I tried everything that I could conceive in order to make the marriage work.  But it took my reaching the point where I realized that I couldn’t do anything to change him and I had to take the responsibility to change the situation in which I found myself.  I got to the point that I decided that it was better to leave and have him hunt me down and kill me as he had threatened than to live another day in such bad circumstances.  In this situation, I never found myself thinking that I needed to forgive him for how he had treated me.  I just looked at the miserable existence in which he had chosen to live and I honestly felt sorry for him.  He had the opportunity to get the help that he needed in order to change his circumstances but never chose to do so.  It was so much easier to blame his situation on his parents and everyone else around him.  And ultimately, he died all alone on Christmas day which is about as sad as anything that could happen to an individual.


There is one other situation regarding forgiveness that I have not experienced and hope that I will never have to know.  I don’t believe that I could ever forgive a person who took the life of someone else.  I have seen many situations where people have been able to do this but I am not that magnanimous.  That is just beyond my comprehension and although I do hold myself to certain standards and will forgive just about anyone for just about anything that they do, I can find absolutely no circumstances that would allow me to explain away such action.  And I have absolutely no desire to ever find a justification to forgive someone who has committed what I think is the worst crime ever.  That leads me to acknowledge that I am not the most forgiving person when all is said and done.