The Art of Forgiveness

Sorry, that’s actually a trick title. This post is nothing at all about the secret art of forgiving others. That’s something I’m actually still working on….This post is really about how you’re not entitled to someone else’s forgiveness. Yes yes, a bit of a plot twist.
The reason I’m writing this little diddy is due to a current situation which has been drawn out for a few years. I’ve mentioned somewhere down the line that my grandmother has dementia and due partially to the dementia has practiced some hatefulness towards certain family members. The hateful behavior basically involved her berating and lying on people. It also morphed into a form of selfishness and attention hunger. For instance when my granddad was sickly, he was in and out of the VA (which is a disgrace to veterans, but that’s a different story). Not to be outdone, my grandmother would always remind everyone that she was sick too even though she wouldn’t be physically sick at the time. As far as the berating and lying, as stated, it was only certain family members she did this to. Basically anyone that lived with her following the death of my granddad became victim to her spreading false rumors to church members. Family members that she saw more often were the ones who suffered her yelling and cursing fits. Though I have not been a victim myself, my mother was one and so I hold a small spot of bitterness towards her for her behavior. After her outburst involving my mom I retaliated (I’m a mama’s girl, what can I say) to which she replied, “well you can get out!” And I responded that I would indeed leave and not come back. True to my word it was over a year before I attended any family functions at her house. After some coaxing from my aunt I finally returned for a visit on the July 4th. By then my grandmother had been fully diagnosed with her dementia and on medication, but not before she had burned bridges with multiple grandkids. And only to remember none of her actions.
Now that was a little all over the place but everything has a point. At least that’s what I tell myself when I’m rambling. But the real point is that my grandmother has since apologized for her actions and yet none of us trust her as far as we can throw her. My cousins who lived with her have since moved out and will not return for much more than a 10 minute visit (and this is only if other family members are there). I have moved in but this is primarily due to the fact that my aunt, who is her primary caregiver, has a great deal of favor with me so I’m helping take some burden off of her. Now one can say that my grandmother didn’t know what she was saying or doing due to her condition, which is true to a certain extent. Unfortunately for my grandma, she has a history of saying hurtful and hateful things prior to the onset of her dementia. What it boils down to is that you can apologize, but forgiveness is not guaranteed.
Someone somewhere in the universe said that you don’t apologize for forgiveness; you apologize to express regret. Who said that? That probably wasn’t even exactly what they said…. Ah well. Just know that it sounds genius but I’m not the genius who came up with it. The purpose of apologizing is not so that you can be back in good standing with someone. If that happens as a result then that’s a plus, but it’s not a guarantee. Even if you were going through an extremely stressful time, were drunk, or even “on that powder” as my cousin in law would say. I can recall saying some brutish things when my anxiety/depression were on level 10. I think I treated my freshman roommate/best friend terribly that first year of college. There were times I wouldn’t speak to her for weeks or I would be overly sarcastic. I ended up apologizing to her last year, but without the intention of receiving her forgiveness. It was just to acknowledge that I was a jackass and that she didn’t deserve that treatment. She actually forgave me and proceeded to update me on her life happenings as we have not talked in 4 years. I was surprised that she didn’t curse me out because that’s actually what I expected from the get go. I already recognized that what I was going through was an influence on my behavior but not an excuse so I couldn’t force her to see my point of view. Sidenote: some conditions are a full blown excuse for behavior that can be offensive. There are mental disorders which leave no other option but to act a certain way so this doesn’t apply to everything/everybody.
A comedian once said (that’s right, I don’t know his name either. I tried to Google that one but to no avail. It may not have even been a comedian….this is what happens when you find stuff on Tumblr. A for effort though….) you can’t dictate the way someone feels about what you’ve done to them. Gah, I probably messed that quote of big time but that was the meaning of it. It’s best not tosay, “hey, stop being mad at me cause even though I made you feel like shit, I too felt like shit….” You want to know who wants to hear that shit? Nobody. Nobody Jones wants to hear that shit. If anything, that’ll just make you get punched in the face faster. So I’m saving you some trouble. There also is no time limit. No telling anyone, “that happened 8 months ago. Why you still mad?” Nope. If you’re the offender you can’t do that. You’re not trying to promote healthy healing in a person. You’re just trying to get off the hook. It doesn’t work like that. This isn’t how any of that works! Give people their space and time to heal/forgive. That’d be best route to take. And even after all the space and time and candy and flowers it isn’t guaranteed that forgiveness includes friendship. You can earnestly be forgiven and still lose a friendship. There’s no fine print that says someone has to be your buddy again after they have forgiven you. They may not hate your guts, but they also aren’t coming to your birthday party. They’ll probably come to your funeral though and that’s what really counts. No, I’m just kidding….but really…..you know how that is. I don’t know if anyone other than black people from Mississippi do that but uhhhhh, black people from Mississippi do that….
So that’s just that. I usually have a long unnecessary ending but I’ve been slacking so I’m going to excuse myself this time….

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