Forgiveness – Episode 68

Holocaust memorial, Berlin, GermanyDo you have trouble forgiving the alcoholic or addict in your life? Have you carried hurts long after the person who hurt you is gone from your life? How can we forgive without forgetting? Let’s talk about forgiveness.

Spencer and Erika share their experience, strength, and hope about forgiveness, and try to address these questions.

What do the quotes that we opened the show with say to you about forgiveness?
How does this compare to the way you used to think about forgiveness?
Did you (or do you) think about forgiveness as giving a “free pass” to the person who hurt you?
Do you now think about forgiveness as “a gift you give to yourself”? (Or can you be willing to think about it that way now?)
How can forgiveness connect to the love of your higher power?
What Al-Anon tools can you use to help move from anger and resentment to forgiveness?
Inventory — seeing “my part” (and I there is almost always “my part” as well as “their part”)
Compassion — especially helpful for me in finding forgiveness for my alcoholic loved one’s actions during her active disease.
Prayer and meditation. Praying for the person I want to forgive, even if it’s just the “SOB prayer.”
Seeing that the other person is a human being, with faults, and that they were doing the best they knew at the time.
Setting boundaries to prevent the hurt from happening again.
How can I find forgiveness for myself, for my past actions that hurt others? (Same tools?)
What about “unforgiveable” behaviors? How can I let them go so that they’re not continuing to affect my serenity and continuing to drag me down?

Our topic for next week is Tradition 4. Upcoming topics include living with active alcoholism and taking recovery on the road.  Please call us at 734-707-8795 or email feedback@therecoveryshow.com with your questions or experience, strength and hope. Or just leave a comment right here.
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forgiveness – a meditation

heart

 

Show me how to love the unlovable
Show me how to reach the unreachable
Help me now to do the impossible
Forgiveness, Forgiveness
Help me now to do the impossible
Forgiveness

It’ll clear the bitterness away
It can even set a prisoner free
There is no end to what its power can do
So let it go and be amazed
By what you see through eyes of grace
The prisoner that it really frees is you

Matthew West – Forgiveness

Forgiveness…

I have had to learn that forgiveness does not mean forgetting.
… that forgiveness does not mean what happened was “ok”.
… that forgiveness does not say “do it to me again.”
… that forgiveness does not mean I can’t set boundaries.
But most of all, I have had to learn that forgiveness is for me.
… that forgiveness opens a path to healing.
… that forgiveness frees my heart.
… that forgiveness brings me closer to God.

Forgiveness can come from a lot of places.

Forgiveness can come from understanding and compassion. From understanding that people are fallible, and that most of the time we are doing the best we know how to do. From compassion for another’s struggle and pain. From understanding that addiction is a disease of the mind and spirit, and compassion for the compulsion and obsession that is inevitable in active addiction.

Forgiveness can come from love. Love that encompasses and holds another in their full humanity and brokenness. Love that says “You are too important to me, for me to throw you out of my heart.” Love that is able to say, “I will hold you in my heart, but it is not healthy for me to have you in my life right now.” Love like God has for all of us.

Forgiveness can come from recognizing that holding onto pain and resentment hurts me more than it hurts the object of my anger. Every resentment, every grudge, every remembered pain keeps me from serenity. Every time I lie awake chewing over some past wrong, every time my gut tightens at the memory, every time I turn away in anger from another person is a time that removes me from living my life for myself, a time that I am not fully in the present moment, a time that I am not enjoying what is happening right here, right now.

It helps me to remember that forgiveness does not condone past wrongs. Forgiveness is not the same as saying “It was OK.” It is not forgetting that we were hurt. And it is definitely not saying “Do it to me again!” I can find forgiveness for past hurts, while setting boundaries to prevent future harm. If somebody stole from me, I can say “you may not come into my house.” If someone was emotionally abusive to me, I can say “I will not be with you.” If their behavior came from active drinking, I can say “I will spend time with you only when you are sober.” If someone repeatedly violates my physical space, I will say “next time you come here without my permission, I will call the police.” In forgiveness, I can do these things with love and compassion, rather than with anger and rejection.

Finding forgiveness heals my heart, bringing me peace and serenity. Finding forgiveness allows me to remember what happened without reliving the pain. Finding forgiveness brings me closer to the life that my Higher Power wants me to live.

Forgiving is not always easy. But it is necessary … for me.

A meditation for December 26, 2013.

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gratitude attitude – a meditation

I love to drum!

 

Many’s the time that we feasted
And many’s the time that we fasted
Oh, well, it was swell while it lasted
We did have fun and no harm done

And thanks for the memory

 

Ella Fitzgerald — Thanks for the Memory

At a recent meeting, the lead topic was gratitude. As  people started to share around the room, I heard a theme about attitude. And I remembered a definition of “attitude” that I had heard in an AA speaker talk: “the orientation or angle of approach of an aircraft”. In other words, my “attitude” is the way that I approach something. In my case, it is about  how I approach the change in this podcast. I can be saddened, anxious, or even resentful that the change happened. But I can also be grateful for what we have done together. It’s all in my attitude — my angle of approach.

When I take that attitude, I know that there is much for me to be grateful for. We did a fine thing, and we had fun doing it. When I take that attitude, I can start from what we did and continue to build the podcast. When I take that attitude, I increase my serenity and reduce my anxiety.

I am also immensely grateful for the outpouring of support I have received from you, our listeners. I want to reply to each of you individually, and I will. Right now, my feelings overwhelm me with each new email. Please believe that, even if I have not written back, that I deeply appreciate each and every message.

A meditation for November 1, 2013.

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acceptance – a guest meditation by Scott B.

 

“Every good thought you think is contributing its share to the ultimate result of your life.”
Grenville Kleiser, Courage to Change P. 176
My first months in program, I couldn’t gather new tools fast enough. I tried everything I could, anything anyone recommended. One of the personal methods suggested was to repeat to myself; “I am good. I am unique. I am beautiful. I love you,” while looking in a mirror. I had the initial thought that it was cheesy, something crazy people said to themselves. Well, I was feeling crazy, so I took a deep breath, and said it out loud to my reflection. With my low self-worth and self-esteem, I didn’t feel comfortable. I felt awkward, embarrassed and ashamed even in the privacy of my home.
In spite of my mixed emotions, I said each of these four sentences again and again, day after day. I would say it in my car rear-view mirror while stopped at a light, (heaven forbid, never when another car was beside me) worried that someone might see me talking to myself. Faithfully, I kept repeating these phrases even without a mirror, now memorized by rote from many weeks of repetition. The words almost became a mantra.  Internally, I didn’t approach the place of transforming love I had expected to reach (and I expected to reach someplace, anyplace, much sooner). I felt no comfort from my repeated efforts over time.
Disheartened, I concluded that saying these simple things could not possibly work and there was no use in continuing. As time in recovery went by, I would occasionally break out a simple, “I love you.” in the mirror. Still, after all this time, I felt the awkwardness spread through me and my stomach tensed as I looked away. Forgotten in the depths of my mind (lost in one of those bad neighborhoods) my affirmations faded, though I continued going to meetings.
When I experienced what seemed like a long period of no growth in my program, I figured I had plateaued. A friend shared during a meeting that change, lasting change, happens on her Higher Power’s time. All she needs to do is her footwork, go to meetings and be patient. This stuck in my brain like a burr. It would not go away. It echoed in my head daily.
That summer I went on an eight mile walk, in eighty degree heat.  I rested, but I had run out of water about 3 miles from home. Dehydrated, I arrived at my house, filled up on water and poured an ice-cold glass of milk. I sat down in front of my computer. I reached for my mug of milk, my hand moved way too fast, and I spilled the white liquid all over my laptop. The screen went half black, the other half froze and I turned the laptop on its side, unplugged it, and ejected the battery.
Anger rushed through me. Powerlessness surrounded me. The feelings were coming and I couldn’t stop them. I felt overwhelmed. I had heard so many times not to try to stop feelings. It was best to recognize them, feel them and let them go. But I made a mistake! And not just a little one! How could I of all people, be human? The turmoil inside me swirled. Old tapes told me to shame myself. New behaviors told me to laugh and accept it. Before program I would spend months, even years beating myself up over such an incident. Which direction should I take? Help me God, what do I do, where do I go?
The mirror. The mirror? Now? Really? My gut feeling was to walk into the living room and stand in front of the mirror. I felt nudged. I looked deep into my own panicked eyes and said, “I love you, Scott and there’s nothing you can ever do to make me stop loving you.” There was no awkward pause, no feeling of inadequacy. I held my gaze and didn’t look away. A wave of gratitude washed over me. Tears welled in my eyes as I cried and laughed at the same time. My gaze was unwavering until it was blurry and I couldn’t see. Thank-you, God. Thank-you. I kept thinking that the feeling would leave, but there it was; solid in my Higher Power’s Love.
Only in looking back from now can I see that everything contributed to my growth; every meeting, every coffee, lunch and potluck. Each email, text and affirmation. Every conversation, every call to my sponsors, every vulnerable moment. All the Concepts, Traditions and every Step along the way. My Higher Power takes it all in and uses my experiences to change me into who I’m meant to be.
A meditation for October 16, 2013.

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amends – a meditation

 

The only way out of the labyrinth of suffering is to forgive.

John Green, Looking for Alaska

I have had a lot of anger towards loved ones in the past. I remember that I used to write down the resentments against them when I took my inventory. I was so upset from the harms that I perceived had been committed against me – even if they were decades old. I had heard in the meeting rooms that forgiveness is key to finding peace. And I kept telling myself to forgive these people. I would even chant it to myself or act as if I had forgiven them. Nothing helped. My resentments remained and I felt frustrated.

Eventually, I got to the 8th Step in my Stepwork with my Sponsor. To do the 8th Step, I had to make a list of all persons I had harmed and become willing to make amends to them all. I listed everyone on my resentment list and listed my anger and judgment against them to be reasons for my amends. Thankfully, I had a wonderful Sponsor that asked me where my amends to myself was on the list. I realized I had no amends to myself – not really. I had hastily scribbled my name on the last page in the margin. My Sponsor reminded me that I was not really honoring  and respecting myself by ignoring my self-amends. I took her suggestion and sat and wrote a proper amends to myself. In the amends, I apologized for not standing up for myself in the past. I apologized for lying about my feelings  to myself and others. I apologized for ignoring my own needs. I apologized for giving up my power to other people. And then I cried because I had just been given an amends by the one person with whom I actually angry, myself.

As I cried, the pain left me and the suffering left me and my wounds started to close. Since then, every day that I am honest about my feelings, every time I honor my needs, and every time I stand up for myself, the wounds close a little more and open up more space for gratitude and love and even more forgiveness. And as I heal and forgive myself, forgiveness for others comes so easily. I think this is because my reality exists within me and I project that reality onto the world around me. Now that my reality is that I am responsible for loving myself, so I am able to seeking external validation and resenting people when I do not receive it.

Today, my Higher Power blessed me with happiness and peace as well as pain and fear. All four blessings are always present for me; some offer comfort and some offer opportunity. When I can see all of these as equal, one not better than another, I can stop feeling like a victim and be accepting, grateful, and forgiving.

A meditation for September 29, 2013

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