My mother’s only sibling was a bitch on wheels and she didn’t have children so guess what only child got the dubious benefit of her maternal focus (I don’t say instincts because she had none or they were deep in the negative). I’ve done a lot of forgiveness exercises. I really thought I’d forgiven deep in my heart when I sat with her as they disconnected life support and as she struggled to breathe. The only family member willing to show up, I prayed and felt her spirit leave. Forgiveness. Check.
Recently I keep remembering this story from something like 35 years ago when my aunt was probably about 50. Mom called me one day to tell me that the latest secretary (one in a long line of grossly underpaid, overworked and verbally/emotionally abused employees) had snapped and held my aunt at knife point for a few hours.
After a few shocked questions about how everyone was I started giggling and burst out, “Really when you think about it isn’t it amazing this is the first time anyone’s gotten ticked enough to pull a weapon on her?” That set Mom off. “It’s a wonder nobody’s killed her long since.” That totally cracked us up. (I’ve often thought it’s a testament to the innate goodness of man that my aunt died at 75 without a knife or gunshot scar on her and as far as I know nobody ever had their hands around her throat…)
Thinking about the story lately I can get that that’s a horrible way to speak of another person and I still think it’s funny. So you get the picture. Forgiveness. Uncheck. Back to the drawing board. I’ve explored lots of reasons and issues fueling the anger and tried various forgiveness exercises but clearly something still eludes me.
I find forgiveness a slippery issue because at the moment I’ve completed some forgiveness practice or just decided that I forgive, it feels completely true. Then at some later point anger may rear again. How can you tell that you’ve forgiven on every level? Haven’t figured that out yet. If you have a formula, please tell.