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learning to forgive

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This topic contains 10 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  Sunny Coons 3 years, 11 months ago.

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  • #101328

    Stephanie
    Participant

    For about 2 years, I’ve been working on forgiving people in my life. This month doing the Love challenges has got me thinking about a group of people who I’m having a hard time forgiving. In college, I had a large group of friends who were more like family to me. We did everything together, and I was dating one of the boys in our group. When we started dating, everything was great. But i knew he had some issues he was working on, mostly that I thought stemed from moving away from home. But within about 6 months, small signs of abuse started. Things like him pushing me, that maybe were a little too hard. Our friends knew about it, and were always supportive of me. Then the abuse got real, and all of our friends were concerned about my boyfriend’s mental state. They knew about the abuse, and suicidal thoughts he had and we were all trying to help. One night we got into an argument that ended with me getting thrown into a wall. Cops were called, pictures taken. I didnt tell my friends that night because I wanted them to have fun, and not let me and my boyfriend ruin another night. I waited until morning to tell them. But when i did, they all said I was lying and immediately pushed me from the group. I felt so hurt and betrayed, mostly because they had seen the abuse before and knew I wouldnt lie. I forgave my boyfriend because I could rationalize why he did what he did. But im having a hard time doing the same with the friends. Any advice on how to start forgiving them, even if i never know the reasons why they did what they did?

    #101337

    anita
    Participant

    Dear shauck11:

    Two issues: why they did what they did? The other issue is forgiveness.

    About the first: You wrote “Then the abuse got real, and all of our friends were concerned about my boyfriend’s mental state”- so before the incident involving the police, they were already concerned about him, not you. They saw him, not you, as the weak and vulnerable one of the two of you. You probably didn’t express your distress to them much while your boyfriend expressed a whole lot of his misery to them. So, they were under the impression that he was the victim and that in that incident, you victimized him.

    The second issue: why do you want to forgive those (used-to-be) friends? Why do you want to forgive your ex boyfriend? What is your motivation in the efforts to forgive for two years now?

    anita

    #101339

    Surya
    Participant

    Hello Shauck.,

    I have a question, what would you had done if you were in your friends situation, were you going to forgave her or not…?

    This will probably help…!!!

    #101373

    Stephanie
    Participant

    Anita,

    Thanks for you response! I have been working on my forgiveness of those I have felt wronged me so that I can release myself from being the victim. I forgave my ex-boyfriend 2 years ago, because I felt that the reason he hurt me was because he was hurting so much himself. He ended up in a psychiatric ward, so I learned later that there was much more affecting him, and I felt that he wasn’t in a rational mind when he hurt me. I didn’t forget his actions, but I did forgive him.

    When it comes to the friends, the only place I see them is sometimes on facebook (through mutual friends). When I see pictures of them, I get so angry and just want them to suffer like they made me suffer. After they kicked me out of the group, I found other friends and tried to get over it. But the group of ex-friends was large and prominent in our college culture. If we ran into each other on campus (which was very small), they would say nasty things to me, wouldn’t come near me, and some even tried to fight me. A few nights after the whole “wall” incident, one even camped outside my ex’s door with a bat to defend him in case I came to talk. It was truly ridiculous and I know that, but it didn’t make it any easier for me. It didn’t matter how much I tried to get away from it, we always crossed paths.

    I could understand a bit that they thought my ex was hurt more and that they would try to support him. But I don’t understand why they treated me the way that they did. Why they continued to be nasty to me even after my ex left the school. With others I have forgiven, I could rationalize their motives and that helped. With this group of people, I keep trying to tell myself that it made me stronger, and pushed me to find better friends and boyfriends in my life. But every time I think about it, it still makes me so angry.

    #101390

    anita
    Participant

    Dear shauck11:

    I would very much like to help you with your Love Challenge of forgiving your ex group of friends. You want to forgive them for the purpose of freeing yourself from the anger in you. And you believe that if you understood why they turned against you and treated you so badly, then maybe the anger at them will leave you.

    That group of friends was supportive and friendly to you until that “wall” incident, correct?

    Will you share here what happened after that wall incident: tell me only the facts and the words used, not your feelings and intentions or what you think they felt and intended. Tell me only what they said and did to you and what you said and did to them.

    I am an outsider to what happened and therefore may be able to see what you are too close to see, too emotionally involved.

    Again, the purpose is to shed light on the friends’ motivation in hurting you, in hope that your understanding will promote forgiving them (releasing your anger at them).

    Will wait for your reply, take your time so that your recollection is as factual and clear as possible.

    anita

    #101745

    Stephanie
    Participant

    Hi Anita,

    I will do my best to share as much as I remember. Unfortunately, that was a rough time and I used alcohol to help me through it. So my memory might be a little foggy, but here it goes! So the main players in this issue were myself, my boyfriend (we’ll call him Drew) and my best friend (we’ll call him Brad). Brad had a front row seat to mine and Drew’s relationship, as we hung out together all the time. He saw many of the abusive situations and was supportive to me during those times. I think the real issues started after my boyfriend and I broke up. Shortly after school began, I found out Drew had been seeing other girls. We broke up, but still remained in the same friend group. Brad and I became much closer than him and Drew. Drew, Brad and I continued to go to the same parties and hang outs, but Drew and I would sometimes fight during these parties. I think I said above, it was becoming clear that Drew had some serious issues to work out, aside from being abusive. Everyone in our friend group became more concerned after we broke up, including myself. I still cared about Drew even if I didn’t want to be with him, and along with my friends tried to help him through this time. But I think they were getting frustrated about us fighting. I don’t remember exactly what was said, but I remember everyone being tense about it. It was a night like any other when the “wall” incident happened. We were at a friend’s hanging out, and I left early. Drew called me to come back to talk, and well…the abuse hit it’s peak. I didn’t want to ruin another night for my friends, and before I left, I knew everyone was having a good time. I figured that if I waited until the morning to tell them, maybe we could find more serious measures (such as therapy, or talking with his parents) to help Drew. The next morning at breakfast, I came up to Brad and some others and said “hey, can we talk? Something happened last night between me and Drew.” At that point they claimed that they already heard and wanted nothing to do with me. I was no longer welcome to hang out with them. I tried multiple times to talk about it with Brad, but he just brushed me off. I then went to some other friends I had (outside of this group) to find support. Meanwhile, my ex-friends were spreading rumors about me being a horrible person. Nothing specifically that I was told, but just that I was crazy and made other people crazy. Shortly after this, Drew was committed to a psych ward for attempted suicide. I went to visit him, because he requested it, and I felt so bad for him. Whenever I would run into my ex-friends there, they would pretend I wasn’t there or make scowls at me. Drew left the school not long after that. But for the next few years, my ex-friends still made comments about how horrible I was, and included new people into their group. People I had never met or weren’t even at the school during these year were pissed at me for what “I did to Drew” and the group of friends, and I never knew why.

    As I’ve been doing some thinking about this, I may have hit some resolutions. Maybe Drew said something outrageous to my friends about what happened that night, something that would make them believe that I was lying the next morning. Maybe they were just mad at me for causing the fights which ruined their good time. Maybe they just felt they had to help Drew and I would be ok. I’m not sure any of this makes sense, considering the prolonged remarks that were made even after Drew was gone. Hopefully Anita or someone else can shed some more light on the situation. Thanks for all of your support and giving me a safe space to find closure!

    #101772

    anita
    Participant

    Dear shauck11:

    I am glad you wrote me back. I will read your post with the fresh brain I am hoping to have tomorrow morning, in 12 hours or so.

    Take care:

    anita

    #101828

    anita
    Participant

    Dear shauck11:

    I re-read your two posts above as well as the last, all in efforts to promote better understanding of what happened. In that aim, I have three questions:

    1. You wrote that a few days after the “wall” incident one of the friends in the group waited outside Drew’s door with a bat in case you came there to talk. How did you know that: did you indeed go there to talk with Drew, a few days after the “Wall” incident? If so, what did you want to talk with him about?

    2. In your very last post you wrote that after you and Drew broke up, and you and him still spent time together in the same group of friends, that Drew’s troubled mental health became a concern to you and to the rest of the group, that you were all concerned for him and tried to help him. During the same time, you and Drew fought a lot.

    My question is: if you were trying to help Drew, why did you participate in fight after fight after fight with Drew? Were you not concerned that fighting with him was hurting his mental health further?

    3. You mentioned your alcohol use: was it before the breakup from Drew? After? Both?

    How did your alcohol use affect your behavior with Drew and with the rest of the group?

    anita

    #101982

    Stephanie
    Participant

    1. I never went to see Drew that night, and only went to see him when he requested. I heard it from someone in the group of friends. She was new-ish to the group and didn’t know all the things that were going on. She lived down the hall from Drew, her 3 roommates and her saw the guy with the bat and asked him what was up. She came to me a while later and told me about the bat incident. She eventually left the group as well.

    2. The fighting usually had to do a lot with the alcohol. Yes, I know it didn’t help in hind sight. Usually when we hung out in the group together, we would start the night keeping our distance. The drunker we got, the more the subconscious feelings arose and that’s when the fights happened. We really didn’t mean to fight, but the alcohol seemingly took over our emotions. Sometimes the fighting would happen when I tried to help him with his issues. He felt comfortable talking with me, but I know that I wasn’t the best person to help him in this situation. I would try to listen, but if I didn’t give him the answers her wanted, we would fight.

    3. It was college, with a large group of friends throwing parties 4 out of 7 nights a week. I drank like a college student before the break-up, and drank much more during and after. I drank, Drew drank, everyone was always drinking, which of course didn’t leave much room for rational thought.

    I’ve been working through this some more, and I think I’ve made some good progress. In yesterday’s love challenge, I wrote down all of the things that I contributed to the picture: the drinking, the fighting, the “letting my emotions run my life, not my brain”. I then started to write down what I thought they were responsible for contributing. I deleted that part, because I could tell that was stirring up the anger in me. Then I made a list of things I could’ve done different. Hind sight is 20/20, but I honestly felt that I did the best I could with everything going on. I thought, yes I made some mistakes, but I’m human and I can forgive myself. Then I thought, they were human too, and they probably did the best they could given the circumstances. Maybe I don’t agree with what they did, but maybe they don’t agree with what I did either. I think this is the “rational” that I was looking for, and with some time, I know that I can forgive them someday.

    Thank you Anita for all of your support, questions and help. I appreciate the commradary you provided to help me get through this challenging time. Best wishes!

    #101987

    anita
    Participant

    Dear shauck11:

    Your conclusion makes sense to me: there is a shared responsibility for what happened. The ex boyfriend carries responsibility for his actions, the individuals in the group carry responsibility for their individual actions and you carry your share of responsibility. No clear villains, no clear victims.

    I admire you for doing this work. It takes honesty and courage to examine one own participation in situations created. I was taught this: I am responsible for my participation in every interaction, not for others’, just for my own. It is a relief to be able to figure who is accountable for what.

    Please do post anytime. It is my pleasure to be part of your again… admirable work.

    anita

    #102113

    Sunny Coons
    Participant

    Dear shauck11,

    This could not have been an easy topic to discuss. I really admire your openness and willingness to accept responsibility for your own part in this story. I hope that you find peace and are able to forgive not just your friends, but also yourself.

    sunnycoons

    #187103

    Nancy
    Participant

    For me, forgiveness often comes around in a day. I assess the situation and realize the impact made by the other person. I discard most things as petty issues and move on.

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