I’m notorious for giving people who have wronged me second, third, and sometimes even fourth chances to make things right and be involved in my life again. I have been hurt by family members, friends, and loved ones; and all it usually takes for me to forgive is an “I’m sorry” for my heart to soften and let the person who hurt me back into my life. I have been taken advantage of because of my forgiving nature and been made a fool out of more than once because I accepted a simple “I’m sorry” in lieu of actual change and an effort to make things right.
I’ve forgiven old friends who talked behind my back and hurt my feelings throughout my childhood. I’ve forgiven boyfriends who have hurt my heart beyond belief, family members who forgot about me during my times of need, and I’ve even forgiven my abusive mother. My mother has never once apologized for the way that she treated me, never apologized for lying about who my real father was, and will never say she was sorry for robbing me of my childhood. But I forgive her and everyone else in my life that has ever hurt me.
Why do I forgive so easily? Because I end up making excuses for bad behavior and putting the blame on myself. If my boyfriend or spouse was abusive or angry towards me, it was my fault for over-reacting or pushing him to that level in the first place. My family forgot my birthday for the fifth year in a row? That’s OK – they had a lot going on in their own lives and I understand. My mother got her rocks off beating the hell out of me and mentally torturing me? I get it; she had me young and had a lot of problems. I would easily spend all day making excuses for bad behavior and justifying someone’s poor treatment of me – because I felt as if I deserved nothing better.
I’ve been told that forgiveness is freeing and that it allows you to be the bigger person and move on with your life; but I truly don’t think that forgiving as much as I do is freeing at all. Because when I forgive, I end up shifting all of the blame and responsibility onto myself. I forget about the bad behavior of the other person because I’m so focused on what I might have done or what I may have said or done to invoke anger or cause betrayal. I forgive to keep the peace and not lose what little I have in my life.
And I know it all stems back to my mother and the way she treated me throughout my childhood. Although Mom never said after one beating, after one whipping, or after one long day of mental abuse that she was sorry, I forgave her every single time I shut my eyes at night. I forgave her because she was my Mom and I loved her. Even though she spit in my face and told me repeatedly how much she hated me and wished me dead, I still loved her. I couldn’t help it – she was a part of me and I was a part of her; deep down I refused to believe that she didn’t have some small inkling of love for me. That hope of a bit of Mom’s love made me a nervous wreck throughout my childhood; I was constantly trying to change my actions and behavior to make Mom stop beating me and show me unconditional love for just one day. I mean, if you don’t have your Mom, who do you have?
This childhood need to make my mother happy carried over to my adult life and still affects me to this day. When truly I love someone and allow them into the most personal parts of my life, I tend to revert back to my childhood tendencies of forgiving too easily and putting blame on myself. I never make anyone take full responsibility for their actions and I am too easy to smile and exclaim “It’s OK!” after a simple “I’m sorry” escapes their lips. I’m afraid to stand up for myself out of the fear of losing someone I love.
But if you are going to act like a doormat – you will be treated as a doormat by everyone around you. You will be taken advantage of, hurt, and lied to because you have made it known that all it takes is a simple “I’m Sorry!” and all is forgiven. I’m learning that if someone truly loves you – they will not only say that they are sorry for hurting you, but they will show it too. I wish I would have stood up for myself as a child and really told Mom how her treatment of me was not “OK”; but I forgive myself for that. I forgive myself easily for that.