I read an essay by Kristen over at Motherese about forgiveness and it has been occupying a space in my consciousness ever since. Her blog has a way of doing that.
"…to forgive is divine."
I am trying to come to terms with the way I process through forgiveness and take inventory of the associated judgmental feelings stored in my bank of memories. For me, forgiveness is a pivotal closure event in acknowledging a complete set of circumstances around a sorrowful event or moment in time. Forgiveness allows me to assemble that sorrow, place it in a box, close the lid and offer it to my Higher Power. In exchange, I ask for peace. The peace I receive washes away my hurt and helps me regain my sense of wholeness. The sorrowful event may have been substantial and the whole person that I am on the other side may be different than the person I was before.
That is to be expected, is it not?
But how much judgment am I carrying with me as a consequence of the experience?
About three years ago I met a woman who was a recovering alcoholic. I have known more than one alcoholic in my life and I am familiar with the whirling vortex of drama that often goes hand-in-hand with these personalities. However, I was drawn to her personality and we became friends. We socialized and assembled a small circle of friends. Her recovery was difficult and she drank from time to time. The effects of her alcoholic binges were never productive. She was ashamed and told lies to cover up the truth.
And then I had a little Christmas holiday party at my home. I invited a few friends and it was a relatively quiet gathering. Food, drink and conversation. She arrived, already inebriated and proceeded to indulge more. She became emotional, hijacked the thread of the party’s general conversation, and her behavior made me very uncomfortable.
She apologized the next day by sending a text message, or maybe an email. In my heart I forgave her and I know that I communicated this to her through email.
But my judgment about her changed. I mentally formulated a boundary regarding the kind of relationship that I was willing to participate in with her going forward, as a pure consequence of my collective range of experience with her. Our friendship cooled. Over the next year, we continued to talk from time to time and exchange email, but only saw each other once, for lunch. While she made numerous vague suggestions that we make plans to socialize further, I did not feel compelled to encourage the suggestions into anything more concrete.
It is possible that over the past twelve months she has taken some strides forward in her recovery and is a much more responsible person. My opinion, informed by my judgment, has not had an opportunity to evolve due to the far more casual way in which we currently interact. Consequently, there is a chance that my opinion is no longer valid.
But I do not know. I have not received enough information to make a revision.
C’est la vie.
I forgave her for the behavior that I considered to be inappropriate, within the construct of our friendship and I harbor no ill will toward her now. I placed the lid securely on that box. I am at peace.
But on the other side of that forgiveness, I changed.