Is for­give­ness pos­si­ble when someone con­tin­ues to hurt?

St. Thomas Times-Journal - - LIFE - AMY DICK­IN­SON Email: askamy@tri­ Twit­ter: @ask­ingamy

Dear Amy: I’m look­ing for some wis­dom: How do you have a mean­ing­ful re­la­tion­ship with a fam­ily mem­ber or friend when that per­son hurt you, con­tin­ues to hurt you, doesn’t think he/she has done any­thing wrong, and re­fuses to apol­o­gize?

Do you sim­ply for­give with­out an apol­ogy, and if that’s the case, how do you open your heart again to that per­son?

It makes me sad to think of end­ing a long re­la­tion­ship, but the wrongs done im­pact me greatly and are so im­moral that I can’t imag­ine be­ing able to have any mean­ing­ful re­la­tion­ship with them, es­pe­cially since the same wrongs con­tinue.

The per­son’s ac­tions are mean-spir­ited and dis­re­spect­ful to me. They of­fer very self­ish jus­ti­fi­ca­tions.

I can’t even be in the same room with them now be­cause it re­pulses me. We talked things over, and that made every­thing worse.

I don’t know how to be the big­ger per­son and for­give every­thing with­out an apol­ogy and still be able to have a mean­ing­ful re­la­tion­ship with them.

The hurt is too deep, and time isn’t heal­ing any of it.

I would ap­pre­ci­ate some gen­eral guid­ance.


Dear Wounded: You ask how to have a mean­ing­ful re­la­tion­ship with a per­son who has hurt — and con­tin­ues to hurt — you.

You don’t. A con­se­quence of someone will­fully hurt­ing you is that your mean­ing­ful re­la­tion­ship is go­ing to take a hit.

It is nat­u­ral to avoid someone who hurts and re­pulses you. In some con­texts, avoid­ance is also the smartest thing to do.

One path to heal­ing is to work on lov­ing your­self more. The stronger you are, and the bet­ter you feel about your­self, the eas­ier it will be to re­lease the pain this per­son has caused you.

You should ta­ble for­give­ness for now, and work on ac­cep­tance — of the other per­son’s flawed hu­man­ity, and the fact that you can­not change them. Once you truly ac­cept this, you will be able to re­lease your own anger. For­give­ness should fol­low.

Dear Amy: I’m in my 40s, and my guy and I de­cided to get mar­ried.

We in­vited more than 100 fam­ily and friends (in­clud­ing spouses and chil­dren). About 25 of our in­vi­tees re­sponded ei­ther that they couldn’t come, or they didn’t re­spond at all. Only two of these peo­ple sent a gift (a check).

I am shocked. I have been to so many grad­u­a­tions, birth­days and wed­dings over the years and al­ways thought that if I re­ceived an in­vi­ta­tion, that meant I should send or bring a gift.

Did I miss the memo where peo­ple are just de­cid­ing not to send wed­ding gifts?

A sim­i­lar thing hap­pened with my bridal shower. A por­tion ei­ther didn’t RSVP, or they said they couldn’t come, and still didn’t send a gift or a card.

I don’t think I am a greedy per­son and we don’t nec­es­sar­ily need ev­ery­one to send us money, but I have al­ways sent gifts to these friends and fam­ily mem­bers in the past and, in my head, I think wed­dings are the ul­ti­mate cel­e­bra­tion. Aren’t they happy for our union?


Dear Dis­ap­pointed: Be­ing in­vited to a wed­ding does not ob­li­gate someone to send a gift. If it’s a close friend or fam­ily mem­ber, you would want to, but re­ceiv­ing an in­vi­ta­tion does not es­tab­lish this obli­ga­tion.

If re­ceiv­ing a wed­ding in­vi­ta­tion did ob­li­gate a per­son to send a gift, then I as­sume we would all re­ceive more in­vi­ta­tions from gift-grabby strangers.

Re­ceiv­ing an in­vi­ta­tion DOES ob­li­gate someone to re­spond and ex­tend their con­grat­u­la­tions, how­ever. You say that 25 peo­ple out of more than 100 ei­ther didn’t re­spond, or said they couldn’t at­tend. That means that 75 did re­spond/at­tend. That’s ac­tu­ally a very good re­sponse/at­ten­dance rate. This is some­thing to cel­e­brate.

You seem very dis­ap­pointed, but I’m not sure why. I hope you can look back on your wed­ding day and re­mem­ber joy­fully all of the peo­ple who DID at­tend and who did cel­e­brate along with you, in­stead of fo­cus­ing on those who missed your spe­cial day.

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