Monday, February 23, 2015
Yesterday I wrote about the topic of forgiveness. I recently began a workshop offered by Mary Hayes Grieco on the subject of forgiveness. I referenced some of the introductory materials I received in my writing yesterday.
While beginning to more deeply ponder my personal journey with forgiveness yesterday I recognized that I have been working on the first four steps for the twenty months I have been going to therapy. I have had the strong desire to release the story of what happened to me so that I may move on. I have amply and deeply expressed my emotions about what I experienced. I have also been releasing the expectations I have held in my mind as well as sorting out and establishing healthy boundaries.
I see quite clearly that it is my expectations, expressed and unexpressed, that have indeed been causing me to suffer. As my committed action in support of my healing today I am simply going to write out the many expectations I have held which I have not had met. In some instances I will use the word ‘should’ as another means of expressing an expectation. Here they are:
I should have a father who takes timely cues regarding his inappropriate and disrespectful behavior such that he treats me with respect and dignity. In other words, my father should take the fact that he has previously apologized to me for his hurtful behavior as a cue that there is something within him he needs to look at.
But he hasn’t done this.
I hoped and dreamed of having parents who could be truly present to my needs and my pain on a consistent basis.
This has not happened. In times when I have most needed love and support members of my families of origin such as my birthparents have repeatedly failed to fulfill my needs.
So in essence my expectation of getting my basic needs met was not regularly fulfilled.
I hoped that my past expressions of my displeasure, pain, sorrow, anger and frustration regarding the quality of my relationships with members of my family of origin might inspire a change of heart in them.
This has not occurred.
I expected people who are practicing Catholics to embody values that clearly align with the teachings of who I understand Jesus Christ was in his reputed earthly life.
I have instead witnessed and been affected by behavior that does not align with Christian values.
Much of the trauma I experienced occurred due to a violation of my own boundaries:
- The expectation that I should automatically be returned to my father’s custody after he was discharged from the hospital (after he was nearly murdered) and that I should be comfortable with this decision after the horrific trauma I had endured was an incredibly unreasonable and harmful expectation.
- The expectation that I should not question my father’s very sanity after his poor choices caused me immense harm was also a harmful expectation for me to internalize.
- More recently I have become fully conscious of another deep hope I long held. I long hoped (and expected) that confronting my family of origin about these unresolved issues would eventually lead to some sort of healthy resolution for all parties involved. And yet no amount of effort on my part has resulted in the outcome I desire.
Some time ago I came to the conclusion it is best to no longer interact with my father and his siblings and his siblings’ spouses. My hopes are typically always dashed after I attempt to engage with them. I rarely if ever feel seen, heard or valued.
Rather than spend any time attempting to forgive my paternal family of origin for the ways in which they ignored my pain and failed to fulfill my needs I decided it is far better to focus on forgiving myself:
I wish to focus on forgiving myself for tolerating the unhealthy behavior of my family of origin for so long. I suffered because I internalized an expectation of myself that was not kind or healthy. I expected myself to accept their behavior as appropriate to the realm of healthy adults. I expected myself to meet their expectations regardless of what it did to me to do so.
I believe I can live a better life. To live a better life I need to let go of those aspects of my life which do not support me as I strive to realize my greatest potential.
I still feel a lot of sadness these days. But as I continue to acknowledge the existence of my sadness I feel the burden of it continuing to lighten up.