Don't Drink the Poison: Learning to Forgive & Let Go
We weren't your typical everyday Italian/Catholic family. We held all the traditions of a typical New York Italian family, like the smells of dinner being prepared at 8am and dinner served by 2pm on a Sunday afternoon. We went through the motions of ceremonial rituals of a typical Catholic family: CCD, communions and confirmations, but rarely attended mass because those Sunday dinners were started way too early. We were always taught about God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, but we weren't bashed over the heads with bibles. We were taught right from wrong, but like any normal kid, two wrongs always equaled a "right". Kinda still does till this day. I remember grandma giving the "evil eye", and then telling us to always forgive one another. Sometimes Mom and Dad would fight about something. Dad would throw something against the wall and then Mom would be in another room in complete silence pretending to sleep. He never hurt her or any one of us, but he had outbursts -- like venting and at the same time, scaring us. I picked up those habits as well. But at the end of the day, they were both sleeping soundly in the same bed together. Even if the two didn't verbally say, "I'm sorry" -- no matter who was in the wrong -- forgiveness was always given.
Forgive so that you can let go.
Forgiveness is a difficult thing for someone with an incredibly large ego. Forgiveness does not require you to be a walking doormat. It requires you to lift the "sin" or offense off from your chest and realize that the other person is only human too. It requires patience and understanding. It doesn't demand anything back in return. If you want to look at it in another way, forgiveness is more of a gift for the forgiver. Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. (I believe that's some sort of Buddhist quote.) Unforgiveness is anger. There's no difference. Even if you never speak to the person again, LET IT GO. Get rid of the poison and move on. And remember, you reap what you sow. Sow mercy, and you'll receive mercy. Sow judgement, and you'll reap judgment. If I'm having trouble completely forgiving a person, I pray about it. I can't wait until "I feel okay" in order to forgive someone. After I initially verbalize it while praying, God takes care of the rest. My mom always says, "She may get angry, but she's always quick to forgive."
There's usually a reason, a resentment or an unseen circumstance that makes people treat others poorly, especially if it's a loved one. True colors (or true opinions) come out once someone who has a huge gripe with you is under pressure. They can do anything under the sun without complaining when things are going smoothly. But once a wrench is thrown in the works, all hell is raised and debts to be paid. I think communication is so important. Talk to one another instead of it coming to a head and exploding. Why can't people lay it all out on the table? Like -- "Here, this is what's bothering me," or "I get upset when you do 'this'," -- in a humane way without any blowouts. Things can be resolved so peacefully if we give a tiny bit of effort. I also believe on the other hand, if you are dealing with a very complex and angry person, you just have to realize that this person is never going to change. You have to accept them "as is" and if need be, avoid them at all costs, or limit your time with that person if it's someone you have to have in your life for whatever reason. There's a funny quote that I love: "Sometimes, the first step towards forgiveness is realizing the other person is bat-shit crazy." For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook and Twitter. Check out her cooking blog for some of her famous recipes!