Al-Anon Family Group

The material presented here is not Al-Anon Conference Approved Literature. It is a method to exchange information, ideas, feelings, problems and solutions on a personal level.

Members Login
Username 
 
Password 
    Remember Me  
Post Info TOPIC: Forgiveness


Veteran Member

Status: Offline
Posts: 89
Date:
Forgiveness


I know there's already lots of topics on forgiveness but I wanted to create a new one.

I have been praying,meditating ,using all the tools I know of trying to forgive and let go of past things that the A in my life did. Some of them just seem/feel unforgivable. Although I am no longer with him,this anger I still feel is keeping me from fully moving forward in life.

Logically I know everything was the disease but it's hard to not take it all personally and hold onto the hurt.

 

ESH please

 

 



__________________


~*Service Worker*~

Status: Offline
Posts: 744
Date:

{{SunnyFrog}} great topic!! I do understand how and why you are having a tough

time letting go and have learned in Al-Anon that "Letting go and Letting God" handle

this for me helps a lot. Also, I am reminded that with any disease, including alcoholism,

I would not hold on to any hurt if it involved someone with cancer or Alzheimer's, for

example, so when I look at the disease the same for all. Make any sense?? So when

old resentments rear their ugly heads I just remind myself that those resentments

are holding me back and let go because God take of this disease that is out of my

control.

__________________

"Forgiveness doesn't excuse bad behavior, but it

does prevent bad behavior from destroying your heart". ~ unknown

Debbie



Veteran Member

Status: Offline
Posts: 89
Date:

Thanks.

It's true that if someone behaved in ways that are truly hurtful that had any other disease I wouldn't be feeling the way that I do. But after thinking on it awhile( I read your reply yesterday and have been thinking since then),the things that I am having such a hard time letting go of wouldn't be excusable if it was any other disease either. I would never think oh,that happened because they have cancer or because they're diabetic. None of the behaviors are excusable in any circumstance,any situation or for any reason whatsoever.

Maybe I can find a way to forgive the reason behind the behaviors but not the behaviors themselves.

__________________


~*Service Worker*~

Status: Offline
Posts: 744
Date:

I always keep in mind what my motives are for my reactions. The disease of alcoholism is very

cunning and deadly and truly affects a persons brain which in turn affects their whole being.

No I agree, that there are many actions and behaviors under any circumstances that are

unacceptable but how I chose to let them control me is my choice.

__________________

"Forgiveness doesn't excuse bad behavior, but it

does prevent bad behavior from destroying your heart". ~ unknown

Debbie



~*Service Worker*~

Status: Offline
Posts: 2536
Date:

{{{SunnyFrog}}}. This is such an important life lesson, how to forgive. What I have come to understand is that by holding onto hurt and resentment, only hurts me. It doesn't do anything to or for the pain-giver. As you said, it prevents us from moving on to better and brighter things. Therefore, I have forgiven all the abusers in my life, including my A, as I'm no longer willing to give them POWER over me. I have come to believe that I deserve respect and good behavior from others, and that has to start with me towards myself (Let it begin with me). I now give myself respect, good behavior, and no abuse (used to be verbal a lot of the time). Let go and let God, Live and let live, and I treat myself with TLC. :)

__________________

Lyne



Veteran Member

Status: Offline
Posts: 89
Date:

Thank you both.

After reading your replies and thinking more,it's true that alcoholism affects a persons brain. The things that happened never would have happened if he had been in his right state of mind,if it wasn't for the alcoholism. I was so caught up in my feelings that I couldn't see it from that perspective. But it's 100% true.

And that,made me take a deep sigh of relief. Because thinking that what happened was about me personally was so painful for me. It wasn't even about me,it was about the alcoholism. Period.

I do believe I can work through all this now,maybe not immediately but at least begin to forgive.

Some key points I need to remember(writing them here so I don't forget)
-Forgiveness is for me,not the other person
-Forgiving doesn't equal condoning
-True forgiveness doesn't mean I won't still hurt. Hurtful things are supposed to hurt and it has nothing to do with whether I can forgive or not
-Hurt is what lies behind the anger. I need to process the hurt,the true feelings instead of covering them with anger

Thank you both so much. You have helped more than you know.

And please forgive me if this thread was considered off topic. I don't think it was but if it is please let me know/

__________________


Senior Member

Status: Offline
Posts: 316
Date:

My experience with my ex was that I had a lot of mixed emotions when moving on to a new chapter in my life. My grief was disguised as anger because my marriage was ending and I hadn't gotten that "happily ever after." My resentments came from believing I'd done my part and he hadn't. My fourth and fifth steps with my sponsor really helped a lot with clearing the emotional wreckage. Forgiveness for me was a form of closure. I couldn't get there before I'd fully accepted that I felt profoundly hurt. Healing from that hurt was a process that took time and being gentle with myself. I spent a lot of time reflecting and worked the spiritual part of Al-anon by improving my conscious contact with my higher power. When I was ready to not just physically separate but also to let ex go in my heart, my hp did for me what I hadn't been able to do for myself and lifted my resentments and guided me through forgiveness of not only of my ex but myself as well. ((hugs)))



__________________

Surround yourself with people and elements that support your destiny, not just your history.



~*Service Worker*~

Status: Offline
Posts: 568
Date:

My struggle was more with resentments then forgiveness but for me its all the same process.

I have found that removing the word should from my life has helped me immensely. There is nothing that I should do, say etc until when and if I am ready. There is no timetable. I accept that I am doing the best that I can at any given moment. 

The other thing that I try to do when I am struggling with letting go of something is to sit and reflect on how the hanging on to that emotion is serving me? 

That isn't always easy to acknowledge that somehow I am getting something out of remaining stuck . It requires some brutal honestly and evaluation of myself. Its neither a bad thing or a good thing it just is an awareness, an insight. This often allows me to move in a direction that I would prefer to go.



-- Edited by serenity47 on Sunday 22nd of January 2023 05:55:33 PM

__________________


~*Service Worker*~

Status: Offline
Posts: 11568
Date:

(((SF))) - for me, forgiveness isn't an action like taking out the trash or doing the laundry - meaning there is no deadline. Feelings are real but they are not facts - meaning, I can be upset or disappointed or angry and that's real. It's my choice how long I spend 'there' each time it pops up.

Gratitude lists have been a huge help for me through out the years. I too lean very heavily into my spiritual program when I unable to find my joy. I have spent a lot of my life stuck in anger/resentment and just don't like being there any longer. I will do whatever I can to choose joy, each morning and hold tight to it no matter what's going on.

I was taught in early recovery to pray for the other person, not myself. In other words, pray for them and not for me to be relieved of the anger. I don't know why but this has helped me move forward in the past. When I put someone who's hurt me in the same place as those I love and hold dear, the hurt subsides over time. Also, as I reflect on my disease, my recovery and my growth, I realize I caused pain to others, unintentionally and with a good heart. I've decided to believe that we are all flawed humans, and when I am hurt by the actions or words of others, I view it as I'd want to be viewed - flawed and unintentional.

Lastly, I am reminded by this disease and recovery from it that I willingly chose this person to be in my life. When I am ready, I can also chose to set them free - in all ways - mind, body, soul. My days go so much better when I can focus on all that is good in my life vs. all that isn't or needs improvement. Hang in there!


__________________

Practice the PAUSE...Pause before judging.  Pause before assuming.  Pause before accusing.  Pause whenever you are about to react harshly and you will avoid doing and saying things you will later regret.  ~~~~  Lori Deschene

 

 



Veteran Member

Status: Offline
Posts: 89
Date:

Thanks so much tiredtonite, serenity47 and Iamhere. I really appreciate the different thoughts and perspectives.

It's so interesting how everyone has basically had to do what feels right and best for them and they're all different. I just wish I knew what's best for myself but I guess I will eventually figure it out.

I realize today that another thing that's holding me back is I feel like I need validation from him,for him to admit all that I went through and how deeply it all hurt me. Instead I am told none of it happened,it's not real and I need mental help. I know my truth,I know my reality and it hurts even more to be told that. I know that's pretty typical and common with an A but it just hurts probably more than everything that happened. I know I will never get that apology I am wanting or ever get the acknowledgement or validation I am seeking. and I'm not sure what to do with that fact. I'm just hurting my own self by wanting it but I can't help wanting what I want. It doesn't bother me so much about what he's telling other people because I know the ones who really care about me and love me know the truth anyway. But for him,the one that was supposed to love me,even though he's an A,just hurts.

__________________


Senior Member

Status: Offline
Posts: 393
Date:

(((SunnyFrog))) I am sorry for the pain you are experiencing. This thread has offered me new perspectives and tools to process. Since you posted, I've been journaling quite a bit and thank you for new awareness and lessons learned. Take good care of yourself. :)

__________________


~*Service Worker*~

Status: Offline
Posts: 11568
Date:

(((SF))) - my experience is when I seek validation and adult conversations with others incapable, it sets me backwards vs. forwards. I've learned in recovery to lean deeply on my sponsor and my program pals for what you are looking for. It's not crazy to be hurt, feel anger, etc. Your feelings are valid - now, what you do and how you move forward is your choice.

When we know better, we do better. I no longer look to 'my guys' to validate me as a person, wife, mother, etc. I know within that I was created by another who's smarter than I, has a master plan and loves me unconditionally. I don't believe any of us are unworthy and all are deserving of love, honor, respect and serenity. It's my job to find that through healthy connections vs. unhealthy ones.

The more you process, the clearer things will become (in my experience). It is real easy for me to (esp. right now) to look at the past and have regrets. However, for me & my recovery, this is the wrong direction I need to be looking...one step at a time, no matter what's going on, I have much more peace when I am in the present with my feet/face facing forward. (((Hugs)))

__________________

Practice the PAUSE...Pause before judging.  Pause before assuming.  Pause before accusing.  Pause whenever you are about to react harshly and you will avoid doing and saying things you will later regret.  ~~~~  Lori Deschene

 

 



Veteran Member

Status: Offline
Posts: 89
Date:

Thank you Daffodils and Iamhere. I appreciate your words.

I appreciate all the replies here,each one has been so helpful.


I am taking a break from thinking about all of this(obsessing actually). It has felt SO extremely important to me that I find a way to forgive in order to move forward but I need to let it all go for now.Trying to force it is not doing the trick at all and probably wouldn't be genuine,true forgiveness anyway. What Iamhere said just finally absorbed into my brain, "forgiveness isn't an action like taking out the trash or doing the laundry-meaning there is no deadline".

I can still move forward,I don't need to use not being able to forgive or wanting/needing validation from him as an excuse not to.

Writing about all this here has been so helpful for me. Thanks again everyone.

__________________


Senior Member

Status: Offline
Posts: 135
Date:

I have discovered that I cannot forgive something until I have acknowledged the FULL hurt that it caused.

SO much of my experience of being enmeshed with an alcoholic was that part of my self protection was to tamp down the full experience of the hurt feelings.

In fact, I have discovered that much of my 'practice of detachment' was, in fact, the practice of denial. If I could detach myself from something, then how bad could it be? It certainly wasn't enough to smother me. If I could "let go and let god", then it couldn't have been that big a deal - it was just something I could hold in my hand, right, and let float away into the sky! Certainly nothing too awful.

Gosh, why was I never achieving that "serenity" in my program practice? I was detaching, letting go, gray rocking, blah blah ... and it was only the most temporary of helps.

Now I believe that if I deny the full extent of the hurt, there is no accounting for the full extent, and thus there can be no scabbing over that wound. It would be as if I had a big open wound and just kept throwing tiny bandaids at it, and wondering why the bandaids didn't even stick to the skin.

I am finding that once I fully embrace the hurt that the many betrayals caused, they start to move from a place where I cannot dislodge them, to a place where I can start moving them around. The scar will always be there, I know. But the rage, shame, etc. stops owning me as completely as it did when I had buried the hurt out of "view".

I will tell you that I have not forgiven my ex for the things he did. But now I feel like I don't have to. Because I'm no longer CONSTANTLY being consumed by rage that is coming from a hurt that is buried where it can't be seen. That hurt WANTS, no NEEDS to be seen, acknowledged, and felt. Once it has that validation, much of the frustration that came with it literally fades, or at least evolves into something much more tolerable. It can move of its own accord, to a different place in my being. I am still just starting this whole aspect of the healing process but I can tell that it's going to be good. Because I can ALmost feel things starting to scab over.  

So for me, I say "Anger isn't something that needs to be 'let go'". It needs to be addressed, questioned, seen, and reacted to. SO much of my anger came from the frustration of not being heard, not being believed. These days i've been saying "yeah, I was angry. I was wounded deeply. Betrayed, nearly destroyed. Nearly silenced. I tried to look like everything was ok when everything was on fire inside. I'm not going to deny that anymore."

That has been so freeing for me. I'm still disentangling myself, but this is the first thing I've found that really helps me to move in the direction of healing. 
 

I can almost see a future in which I am a being that is covered in scars and old bruises. But I'm whole, and I'm not fueled by range that burns unchecked.  That's my hope. 



-- Edited by Fedora on Wednesday 25th of January 2023 02:33:35 AM

__________________


Veteran Member

Status: Offline
Posts: 89
Date:

Thanks for sharing that Fedora.that was pretty powerful.

I am not sure why but last night instead of my mind ruminating over all the hurt and pain I was actually thinking about what things were like before addictions,whether substances or alcohol, entered the marriage. There were lots of good times,lots of good memories rolling around in my mind. It was bitter sweet. But it did help me see/realize.understand/grasp exactly how devastating the disease is,in so many different ways.

I am grieving. And I have been for quite a few years. I lost who and what he once was to the disease. And it's gonna be a long process just the same as any other loss in life. And right now in this moment(could change in an hour)it's hard to feel so much anger,bitterness and resentment when I see it that way. It's not an excuse,it's just reality.

__________________


Senior Member

Status: Offline
Posts: 135
Date:

Dear SunnyFrog,

I hear you. There is such immense loss from this disease, YES. It's horrible.

Your feelings are all valid and don't need to be "excused to the disease". It IS a wound. It DOES hurt. There HAS BEEN LOSS.
Years ago, after I suffered a loss, someone said this to me: "If it hadn't mattered, it wouldn't have hurt." I forgot this during the many years I lived with my exH. But once I left and started to "pick up the pieces", I remembered that truth. If you aren't ready to "talk forgiveness", don't. I'm finding that forgiveness is a verb that needs to be applied only when other conditions have been met - in myself. I have to have faced the enormity of the wound. Explored the farther edges of it as much as I can. Only then can I decide how much effort it will take to dislodge itself from it's place (where it is inevitably holding me back from a better life experience).

Grief is kind of like a pot that has boiled over on the stove. We have all these feelings, and when something is too powerful to be contained, our ability to compartmentalize feelings is derailed.
And then it's not just the boiling over the edges of the pot that cause problems - the "spilling over" causes a mess all over the stove top that can be next to impossible to clean up without drastic measures (like a razor blade on glass tops!). That is so true in our human experience of grief as well.

I find grief terrifying because it is uncontrollable; you never know how deep the well is, and it can be so deep there seems to be no chance of returning from the deep. The greater the loss, the deeper the well, the harder the return. I don't know that there's a timetable for this "return". If you spend decades going down the well, it sure isn't going to be a short trip back to the surface.

As an anonymous poster on the internet, I can't really hold space with you the way I think we all deserve; for someone to sit beside you, holding a hand and saying nothing, just letting the connection between you remind you that you don't have to drown. (Cue the F2F meeting and sponsor. Or just any friend who is actually there in person.) But I certainly wish this for you. I wish it for all of us. 


Be kind to yourself. Be patient. :)



-- Edited by Fedora on Wednesday 25th of January 2023 11:34:40 AM

__________________


~*Service Worker*~

Status: Offline
Posts: 744
Date:

I found, through Al-Anon, that taking all those hurtful things that were directed at me personally

was my biggest issue. When I learned that they were issues of guilt on the part of the alcoholic

redirected at me, that freed me from the hurt. I learned that my anger for the cause of that

misdirected guilt was only holding me back from my recovery, I learned to let it go because

I no longer had to cure, control, take responsibility, justify, answer to, defend or explain any

part of the alcoholics behavior towards me. Letting go of what I wanted or had and becoming

grateful for what I now have was so much easier on my health and that of my drinking spouse.

I learned that letting go and letting God take care of him and me on our own separate paths

was my best bet for serenity because it was all out of my control. I learned to love my drinking

spouse all over again in a much better light based on the circumstances that I cannot control.



__________________

"Forgiveness doesn't excuse bad behavior, but it

does prevent bad behavior from destroying your heart". ~ unknown

Debbie



Veteran Member

Status: Offline
Posts: 89
Date:

Thank you again Fedora and DM2021.

All those feelings of anger,resentment and bitterness came flooding back again. Instead of trying to fight or change what I have been feeling I am just letting myself feel this way. I am sure these feelings will come and go for a long time so I'm done putting so much effort into trying to force myself to feel how I don't want to feel.

I was thinking that by trying to change how I feel is no different than the A trying to tell me how I do and don't feel.Or that I am wrong in how I feel.

I'm not wrong in feeling how I do. Sure life would be much easier if I didn't feel this way but I am only human and that's what we do,we feel.

Man, I flip-flop back and forth on the daily on what I think and feel about this. I guess that's ok too.

__________________


Veteran Member

Status: Offline
Posts: 89
Date:

Just a little update on my whole forgiveness "crisis".

Last night I did a half hour guided meditation that I haven't done in a very long time. I was able to completely let go during it and just be. The way I felt afterwards, so relaxed, so peaceful almost made me cry.

It made me realize it's not trying to find a way to forgive that's the issue, it's the ruminating and obsessing and replaying all the bad in my mind. That's what's holding me back.

I need to continue meditating and finding other ways to create more peace for myself.

I also need to learn to forgive MYSELF for allowing myself to be treated so badly. I think that's actually the reason for all my anger, bitterness and resentment. I'm the one who stayed instead of doing what I needed to do awhile ago. I'm not too concerned about learning to forgive him anymore, that might eventually happen one day but it's not necessary right now like I thought it was.

__________________


Senior Member

Status: Offline
Posts: 135
Date:

SunnyFrog,
I don't know how to make or find a Cheering emoji, but if I could I would put it here. Your recent actions sound productive for you and I am (internet anonymously) happy for you! :).

Yes, learning to forgive yourself ... SO hard. But you deserve that. Now, I personally think I Own the crown of shame when it comes to "I should have left earlier / I should never have let myself be treated that way . ..." but my therapist has been diligently trying to yank that crown from my head. It has gotten a lot looser as of late. I hope that becomes true for you as well.

One of the things that was so striking to me when I first came to Al-anon was that I wasn't the Sole Owner of such crowns. Now I know that they're more plentiful than grains of sand on the beach. How awful. But I want to wave my anonymous internet flag for you and say "hey - I want to take this crown off. I think it doesn't look good on me. Or anyone."

{{{hugs}}}

-Fedora

__________________


Senior Member

Status: Offline
Posts: 393
Date:

Great, powerful stuff! Thank you all for awesome shares.

__________________


~*Service Worker*~

Status: Offline
Posts: 2781
Date:

This was a powerful thread for me. Thank you SunnyFrogs for bringing it up and continuing to post your process. Thank you all for your ESH.
Especially Fedora. Your first reply resounded with me!

It made me realize that I have compartmentalized my feelings of hurt 1) to protect my kid (now young adult) and 2) because it is what I do - I have found it is what I always do.
No wonder I seem to never fully heal from my hurts.

I think I am going to work on a journal of sorts. To finally admit to myself that I feel wronged by my partner. That I am angry that I did not get the "happily ever after" I was promised. I have been so worried over my Ex's state of mental health, that I have neglected mine - believing that I could handle it (like I always seem to). But instead it sits inside of me festering. I have been afraid to be angry because "it's not what well-intentioned people do when they work the program." But what happened was not my fault, and it is not my job (especially now) to provide the "easy-going" facade that projects "I'm fine, everything's fine." I need to acknowledge my anger.

I feel like I have a lot to unpack.
I am GRATEFUL to you all. I wish you all Peace.

PNP

__________________

"The wolf that thrives, is the one you feed." - Cherokee legend

"Hello, sun in my face. Hello you who made the morning and spread it over the fields... Watch, now, how I start the day in happiness, in kindness."  Mary Oliver

 

 



Veteran Member

Status: Offline
Posts: 89
Date:

Thank you again Fedora. I hope I can lose that crown too.

And yes Daffodils and P&P,this is powerful stuff.

Thanks everyone for their shares here, I really appreciate it!

__________________
Page 1 of 1  sorted by
 
Quick Reply

Please log in to post quick replies.