For a Week I've Been Contemplating Forgiveness

...in all of the letters my father has written to me over the last year, not once has he ever asked for my forgiveness...i'd overlooked this until last week when i began rereading them all again to develop some new chapters...i spent a few hours specifically looking for any phrase that might hint at a plea...in dozens of pages, not one...

...nor have i ever told him that i've forgiven him...

...and rightly so...after all, i wasn't a woman he brutalized...if i were in his shoes, their forgiveness would be much more important...even not in his shoes i somehow wish those women would forgive me...i can't quite put my finger on an explanation for this except to paraphrase some of the research i've done about children of incarcerated parents...we usually internalize our parent's behavior, to the point where we often feel in the wrong...the scientific research on this phenomenon, and the case studies about children of incarcerated parents, all support this thesis: my desire for forgiveness is normal...so perhaps what i've done, essentially, in writing to him and uncovering the details of his past, is forgiven myself...

...what do we really do when we forgive someone? do we tuck away the grievance, like it's an old movie stub or a wine cork? does forgiveness entail what pop psychologists call purging? do we have to vomit every minor infraction in order to reach the pinnacle of compassion?

...or do we somehow erase the grievance from our memories?...the old adage "forgive and forget" (mostly interpreted as "to forgive is to forget") kept running through my head this week...this is a paradox for the memoirist--we cannot forget, because we must remember in order to write...but to write well, to achieve perspective, we have to forgive...or should we read the adage as forgiveness causes forgetting, forgetting is a result (by-product?) of forgiveness? when we truly forgive do we have no memory of the crime against us? does forgiveness cause that to happen? as a writer attempting a memoir, i can never forgive my father because i must remember what he's done...it's a part of him as much as the blood in my veins...

...is forgiveness a rationalization of an action: X happened because of 1, 2, and 3...if we dabble too long in the because, do we lose sight of X? do we forgive X because of 1, 2, 3 or do we understand X because of 1, 2, 3? what is the difference, then, between understanding and forgiveness?

...today the dalai lama offered this message: "Along with love, compassion is the face of altruism. It is a feeling from deep in the heart that you cannot bear others’ suffering without acting to relieve it. As compassion grows stronger, so does your willingness to commit yourself to the welfare of all beings, even if you have to do it alone. You will be unbiased in your service to all beings, no matter how they respond to you."...in writing this memoir, i am acting to relieve much suffering...my own and that of my family...even my father's torment...i hope i've reached a point of unbiased service...


  1. Forgiviness is a process. You started and I am proud of you! LaVette

    1. you give me hope:) starting happiness project...you?

  2. I struggle with this myself. How do we forgive people who have wronged us? How do we forgive ourselves when we make mistakes? It's a hard issue.