What DO I Do Now?

I am getting ready to head to bed. It's nearly 2:30 in the morning and I was just shutting down my trusty computer friend when I noticed an email. The name staring back at me from my inbox was that of my sister-in-law. The one I have not spoken to in over a year and a half, the last time being a war on the Wyoming plains. This is my brother's wife. My niece and nephew's mother. Someone I not so very long ago considered my friend. And yet, during said war, some of the absolute most hurtful things were said and done which have allowed me to live in pain and sadness for the past year-and-a-half. Longer if you count the visits prior to said war. I was asked for forgiveness. Forgiveness. What does that mean, exactly? How, after so much time has passed convincing yourself that you can be okay without bitter people in your life, can one short email awaken nausea in the pit of your stomach? I am shaking. I am cold. I feel a sharpening pain behind my eyelids. My heart is doing some frantic double-beat which I don't understand. Forgiveness? How can I forgive when it is so much easier to despise? How can I forgive when I can't begin to forget the buckets of shed tears, the days of sitting before the porcelain throne, the hardness my heart has become? And yet, in the deepest me part of my soul, I want to forgive, I want to accept, I want to start again and find peace within myself. But how? Where do I begin? Can I ever truly forgive, or will I always find fault, be angry for the years that have been stolen from me, for the horrific words hurled my way and making me question everything that means the very most to me in the world, for words that stripped my children of their dignity and innocence. I am heading to bed. But you can bet that it will be another sleepless night stemming from the great war on the Wyoming plains. A sleepless night judging myself and my character and wondering if I can come to comprehend what forgiveness truly means.


Alison said...

Oh Tera...I completely understand. I too have a sister in law, our war took place in California. I know how hard it is...I am going through the same thing, only my sister in law has not asked for forgiveness, she does not see the part she has played in this....she has divided our family..it is very sad.

Forgiveness is hard, but it is also freeing and in time becomes easier, your heart does soften!!

ChrisB said...

I have not experienced anything like this so I can only try and imagine the hurt you are feeling. However as Alison says if you can find it in your heart to forgive (and that doesn't mean forget) it might actually help you begin the healing process.

tlawwife said...

There is a very good book called 'Total Forgiveness' that talks a lot about forgiveness. You can not hurt the other person by not forgiving only yourself. In fact forgiving doesn't have that much to do with the other person. You can not change them only you. Like chrisb says that doesn't mean that you forget but that you erase the pain from you. At one time I had to forgive something big in my life and it felt like I lost a ton of weight. The other person was totally unaware but I was different. I'll be praying for you.

msyennis said...

I agree with some of the other comments. I've always thought of forgiveness as something I do for myself, not necessarily for the other person. It's not always easy, especially considering some of the things that she has said and done to you. Forgive for yourself, let it go for yourself. HOWEVER, that doesn't mean giving her a 'get out of jail free'card. I think you have to let her know that, while you may forgive, you can't forget. Let her know what she did hurt you, and why it hurt, and that any relationship that you may build with her in the future will take time and all of the trust has to be built totally from scratch (if you can ever find it again)

Love ya hon,

Jade said...

:-( wow, I'm sorry you've been carrying this pain for so long Tera. I can only imagine what stemmed such a word war and what might have been said in the middle of the "excitement."
You did however pose a question, and In return I would like to pose a solution. :-)

You said its been 3 years of hurt living with what was said/happened between the two of you, and that for that 3 years its been sort of an "emotional ache" for you when you think back at it, right? Also it seems like you're sister in law is remorseful for what she said/did and appears by your description to want to START to mend things. (I really don't think she expects things to be "all better" over night.

This is what I pose. What would happen if you told yourself "Tera, you've been holding on to this hurt for over 1000 days. What was said/done was done in the peak of emotion and when looking at the big picture what was said is not valid at this point. I do not want to continue living my life hurting for what someone said/did in the peak of emotion" At that point maybe you can just decide to not allow it to hurt you as much anymore and possibly start allowing your sister in law to EARN back trust? I would not act like things never happened, but keeping brick walls up only prevent you from growing, her from growing, and your kids learn patterned ways of dealing with problems.

Long response short, you're a wonderfully sweet woman Tera, too sweet to let this poison you. I don't know your sister in law, but I do think that if she's willing to reach out and put herself out there to ask for an apology, she may just have learned a lesson from the war you two had.

Always here if you need a friend girly. Just an email away. ibjennalee@netzero.com ;-)

Claudia said...

“Sincere forgiveness isn't colored with expectations that the other person apologize or change. Don't worry whether or not they finally understand you. Love them and release them. Life feeds back truth to people in its own way and time.”

~ Sara Paddison

Just do it when you're ready. There is no rush....but you're the gentler (wiser) soul. When you're ready to let go of the anger, you will. {{ hugs }}

V-Grrrl said...

I unexpectedly found myself in a very tense, emotional situation that got out of hand and launched a war of words. I got caught up in someone else's marriage problems.

It was really ugly and included not just nasty words but threats of violence. I couldn't believe it, and I was deeply hurt by what was said and done.

Still I extended an olive branch to the person who most hurt me, not because I'd "forgiven" the things she'd said to me but because I had to acknowledge to myself that I had done her harm, even it was unintentional.

It was freeing to make peace with her, but I have to add that she never acknowledged any wrongdoing AT ALL in her treatment of me. I'd be lying if I said that doesn't rise up and bite me sometimes. I'm not sure I'll ever get over what happened, and I doubt I will ever have contact with these people again.

Jen said...

It's worth it for me to purchase the tea because I resteep the same flower two to three times, and each time I see it, my entire day is lifted.

It's crazy how such a simple thing helps me maintain peace. :)