I had a part time job plus a freelance contract when I got to South America. I had a plan: I would live with my parents for a few months while saving as much money as possible, and at the end of the year I’d look for a place in the city and would buy all the basic things a home requires. When the contract fell through, it hit me: I had given away my whole life to help my brother, because it felt like the right thing to do. I never really had a relationship with him. We’ve been fighting since I can remember. Bad. Really bad. But over a year prior to my trip, we had gotten close and had been enjoying a new and loving relationship.
I had been working on “forgiving” him since my last two months in the US, because those closest to me keep saying I have to forgive in order to heal. But when I lost the freelance contract, again I was aware of the fact that I had lost my stability because of him. I hated him, yet again. I blamed him for everything. I thought It wasn’t fair that I was worried about having a job in order to save and be able to have my own home again, if I had had all that before.
How can I forgive him, if I still blame him? How can I forgive him, if he still hasn’t admitted that he wronged me? How can I forgive him, if I still feel so much anger and hurt? I understand he’s hurt, deeply hurt. I understand he’s not acting as himself… But how can I forgive him? My mother is a very religious person, and her advice is always related to the Bible. She said forgiveness is a way of acknowledging you’ve been hurt. She says I have to forgive to let go. But I can’t. I’m not ready.
Even though I sometimes somewhat pretend to be, I’m really not a spiritual person, but I decided to do some research… The Online Etymology Dictionary defines forgive -a verb- as the old English forgiefan: give, grant, allow; remit (a debt), pardon (an offense).
And it talks about a sense of “(giving) up desire or power to punish”. I also found a review of David Konstan’s book, Before Forgiveness: The Origin of a Moral Idea, by Ilaria L.E. Ramelli, for the Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews, which talks about “The modern notion of interpersonal forgiveness, …quite important today in religion, law, politics, and psychotherapy, was altogether absent from the classical world, both Greek and Roman. What is more, it seems to have not been fully developed in the Bible, ancient Judaism, or early Christianity either, where the focus was more on God’s forgiveness than on human, interpersonal forgiveness. …the birth of the modern concept of forgiveness should be traced back just to the past three or four centuries”. I also went to Wikipedia (I know… I know…) and found out that in Judaism, you’re encouraged to forgive if the person that caused harm sincerely and honestly apologizes. Then, because Allah values forgiveness, Islam also recommends forgiveness. However, it also allows revenge to the extent harm done… Finally, Buddhism understands forgiveness as a practice that prevents harmful thoughts from causing havoc on one’s mental well-being, because it believes that feelings of hatred and ill-will have a lasting effect on karma. Either way, I don’t believe in gods. I don’t believe in anything, so whatever any religion says about forgiveness, it doesn’t touch my heart. I believe, eventually -once I’m ready- I’ll be able to remember this lapsus without feeling hate or pain. But I’m not there yet. My therapist says you can’t force forgiveness upon yourself, she says the negative feelings will become smaller and smaller until they disappear. And I’m waiting, because right now I’m not strong enough to forgive my brother. Right now, I still judge and blame him. I’m still angry, I’m very angry. I can’t believe he still hasn’t said he’s sorry for what went down. And I can’t believe he blames me. I can’t forgive him, because, right now, I wish I’d never have to see his face again and I cringe at the thought of his voice. The pain has begun to disappear, though, not the anger. Not at all. Right now, I’m trying to figure out why this happened. But, then again, believing things happen for a reason requires believing in something… So, I started to try and figure out what I learned from all this, and there’s a very clear lesson: We’ve got nothing under control. Nothing.