I used to be forgiving to a fault; now I’d say I’m just not a fool about the subject anymore. When I was younger, I forgave for no reason. Now, I only forgive if someone shows genuine regret for their actions, and if they undo what they have done, if that is possible. (I will get back to this later.) If that happens, I’ll forgive almost anything. What ends up happening the most these days is, I think now I just learn to live with things.
Usually when I think about this subject, it makes me think of my adoptive parents. Forgiving them was always a complicated matter, because my feelings for them never rose to hatred, but they always rode that line. For a very long time, I went back and forth between tolerating them in my life, and just plain not having them in my life at all. So many times in the past, I came to them for help, and they said I was on my own. My friends and bio-relatives had to do so many things they refused to do, such as teaching me how to drive, helping me with my passions, providing financial support, or just plain giving me a place to stay until I got back on my feet. I will never forget all the times they refused to be real parents.
As strange as this may sound, it seems like having a common enemy is what changed everything. My ex-wife was going to take her greed all the way to court. I wanted to keep and raise my daughter, and they wanted a grandchild. It was shocking what happened. Truly shocking. Like many times in the past, I simply came to them and asked for help, and this time, they didn’t come up with excuses not to help, but said they’d support me all the way. I asked what kinds of things they’d say in my defense, and they said they didn’t know, but that they knew they didn’t have anything negative to say. “Nothing negative?” I asked. And in essence, their response amounted to, “What bad things could we say? You never did anything horrible or criminal.”
That right there. That put things on the right path, for once. They were willing to help, and even added a few comments about how I was always a pretty good kid/person. It sure as hell didn’t explain their previous treatment, but I’ll take it. I still haven’t forgotten the past, but at least now it’s in the past. I seriously doubt they’d ever admit they changed because I have a daughter, but I can’t say my reasons for my own change of heart toward them is any better. And philosophically, does their reason actually matter? If a parent, any parent, treats their child well, from birth until always, does the reason why they do it really matter? I think parenting is one such instance when the reasons don’t matter, as long as you do the job properly, because it is a job, whether you love it or hate it. And parenting is forever, even after your child has grown. So, philosophically, I don’t think it matters why my parents finally improved … just as long as they did.
Did I forgive the past? I’m not sure still, but I know I can live with it being in the past.
Now, after writing my previous post (here), I’ve really started thinking deeply about the subject of forgiveness. If my ex-wife improved, could I forgive her? I suppose it greatly, greatly depends on how she changes. But this is not worth thinking about in the first place, because she’d have to be a completely different person to change. The amount of change required would be like Kim Kardashian becoming the next Neil deGrasse Tyson; it’s just never going to happen.
Well, I guess I’m a writer. I can ignore my knowledge of reality to visualize scenes that would be impossible. Magic isn’t real, magic physically cannot be real, but we can still write about it. So, in a fictional world where my ex-wife changes enough for me to forgive her … it would probably still be similar to how things were with my adoptive parents: Somewhere in the middle.
My best friend once said, “Hey man, 1 in 10 of divorced couples get back together.” My immediate thoughts were, First, why are you saying that? And secondly, that’s not true. It’s actually more like 1 out of 17. While researching that, I learned that Round 2 Couples (that’s what I call them) have about a 72% chance of the marriage being successful. Okay, so, when people divorce, their next marriage (not to the same person) always has a lower chance of being successful than the previous one, but if it is the same person, it has a HIGHER chance of success?
…………My god humans are weird creatures.
Anyway, I don’t know why my best friend said that. He said it like three months after my separation, so maybe he just didn’t know how deep my anger toward her had gotten. But, I guess I did say I’d put my fantasy goggles on here. So, if my ex-wife truly changed, at least to the person I thought she was when I married her, then yeah, why wouldn’t I want to be with her again? Humans don’t change what kinds of things make them fall in love. It’s pretty damn rare for people to split up and yet still see the other person as exactly the person they wanted to marry before.
I suppose that would be a kind of forgiveness. Philosophically speaking, it seems that forgiveness, at least with me, really always comes down to whether someone has grown past their mistakes. Unless it’s an actual, and extreme, crime, that’s really what it comes down to. There are people I will never forgive no matter how much they change, but for the most part, if someone changes, then you can’t hold their old selves against them any longer.
I was raised to forgive no matter what. It’s part of Christian teachings. But I don’t believe that anymore. I still agree with some things in the Bible, but this just isn’t one of them. I think it has to be earned; it has to be deserved. Speaking of Christians, a lot of them actually believe that they can behave however they want, and in order for God to forgive them, they just gotta ask and that’s it. I suppose technically that’s true, and that’s why I reject this bit of Christian ‘wisdom.’
If someone doesn’t change, their past is also their present. If they haven’t put their past behind them, you shouldn’t.
My meaning here doesn’t extend beyond that, by the way. I don’t believe that not-forgiving someone gives you permission to slash their tires or something. Of course not. Remain civilized. Forgiveness is mental, not behavioral. In fact, I’d say that if you believe someone doesn’t deserve forgiveness, you have an obligation to keep being above what they did. What they did has to be beneath you, forever, or else you have no moral right to still be upset with them. It would be like refusing to forgive infidelity, but then you go and cheat.
Anyway, those are my thoughts on this subject.