When is Forgiveness too Much?

Forgiveness lesson from flowers

Forgiveness lesson from flowers (Photo credit: juliejordanscott)

Article by Wendy McCance

Forgiveness is such a personal journey.  Some people forgive easily, where others, not so much.  I’m not talking about saying I forgive you in words, but the actual feeling that dwells deep inside of each one of us.

Over the years I have been tested with some extra-ordinary circumstances where forgiveness did not come easily and the experiences I faced devastated my mind.  Working my way through to a forgiving place saved me immense amounts of bitterness and opened me up to understanding others in a whole new light.

Anyone who has been through a divorce understands that the divorce doesn’t just divide the couple.  Relatives and friends become involved.  Sometimes the involvement is a show of support for their own family, other times it is a friendship where one part of the couple is favored more than the other.  Whatever the reason, it adds to the trauma of breaking apart a life you once knew and counted on.

When it came to friendships, I was lucky.  My friendships stayed intact.  Although some friends backed off during the messiness of the actual divorce, I never lost anyone that I had come to rely on as a good friend.

It was the family ties that cut so deeply.  I had been a part of a big, boisterous family for 15 years.  My ex-husband’s family had truly become my own and I was very close to them.  Of course when I divorced, I knew that I had to walk away.  This was my ex-husband’s family, not mine and I had to respect the fact that my ex-husband would need support.  I knew that my relationship with this family was over and although I was sad, I understood.

The distance that was put between me and my ex-husband’s family actually made it easier to move on.  It was like pulling off a band-aid.  It was quick but the pain was not as great as  it would have been if I had slowly extricated myself from those relationships.

I understood from the beginning my ex-husband’s family standing by his side.  I understood the hurt and disbelief and the need to blame.  I even understood blaming me for a marriage gone wrong.  I was now the outsider and they were standing by their one of their own.  It was only natural for them to support and love their own family no matter what.  I forgave the hurt feelings, the moments of shock and inappropriate actions and the loss of closeness I once had with them.  I forgave it up to a point.

I still struggle with a few people who took their support of my ex-husband too far and did things that ended up hurting my children.  Lies were told and rumors were made up of things that had no substance and were far from anything I would ever do.  The stories were told outright to the kids on a few occasions with a warning of why their mom was not a good person.  The stories were spread through the neighborhood and into the school the kids attended.  Parents saw the drama unfolding and didn’t want anything to do with the mess that was being created.  My children lost many friendships because of the hatred that was spread about things that were untrue.

My oldest daughter went through her earliest school years with very few friendships because of the fallout.  The incredible thing is that I found out what was being spread by the parents themselves.  They didn’t believe what was being said, they knew better.  They walked away because they were being approached on the playground while waiting to drop off or pick up their kids.  They didn’t want to be sucked in.  I understood.  I would have felt the same way.

So many years after the war of the divorce and the hatred that was exposed, there has been a lot of back pedaling.  Things have been seen in a new light.  A lot of apologies have been made.  People are seeing me once again the way they had remembered me before the fallout had occurred.  I had forgiven most of what had happened years ago, and now the people I was once so close to are aware that I hold no grudge or ill will.

There is an exception.  I have been struggling with the hurt created when the kids were pulled into the mess.  I know that I need to let go of any residual pain.  I have done a good job of moving on and not dwelling on the past.  I don’t live with a bad feeling each day.  My fear is that I might not be gracious in accepting a welcoming gesture from the few people who went too far if it were to occur.  I know that forgiveness will help in my own healing process, but when might forgiveness go too far?  How far should you stretch yourself before it is too much?

My personal answer to this question is simple.  I still have some work to do.  I don’t want to spend extra moments of my life with any feelings of sadness, anger or other negative emotions if it is possible.  I think in time my anger for the fallout all those years ago will vanish.

Forgiveness is such a personal and emotional feeling.  There is so much that comes into play.  If I am going to forgive, I am going to forgive completely.  There will be no residue of anger, sadness or mistreatment that I will leave floating around in my head.

I believe that the ability to forgive is one of the most challenging experiences we face.  The growth we achieve when we learn to forgive is incredible.  It opens your eyes to other points of view.  You become more aware of human nature and why people react and respond in particular ways.  You become open to seeing peoples strengths and their weaknesses all from questioning why something was done.  Most importantly, you learn what your own strengths and weaknesses are from questioning how you feel and what you are capable of forgiving.

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Wendy McCance

Wendy McCance is a Michigan based freelance writer and social media consultant. Wendy has gained attention as the founder of the popular blog Searching for the Happiness which can be viewed in 9 local papers online, including the Oakland Press. The combination of writing skills and social media knowledge is what makes Wendy such a powerhouse to work with. Stay tuned for opportunities to advertise, guest post and as always, have your questions answered.

To contact Wendy McCance about a writing or social media assignment, interview or speaking engagement, please email her at: mccance.wendy@gmail.com

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25 thoughts on “When is Forgiveness too Much?

  1. I just heard Dr. Phil say that forgiveness is not a feeling but a choice. And as we all know; it’s more for us then it is for the other person. With the help of God, complete forgiveness is possible.

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  3. I read this the first time while trying to sneak some computer time in between guests for Christmas, it was too thought provoking to answer at that time. I am so sorry for what you and your children had to go through as a result of a divorce, as if divorce isn’t hard enough. Your post stayed with me over the last couple of days and rather than make this a very long comment, I thought I would leave a short thought. Forgiveness, for me, is too much when the person I find a way to forgive continues to abuse that and continues to find opportunities to hurt me.

    • I agree it’s been hard to forgive when the bad times were continuing. I have gone through anger, fear, numbness and then realized that I needed to look at things differently or I would never feel like I was really living my life. It was easier to forgive once I was no longer around my ex. That being said, I still had difficult times while the kids were in his care (to say the least). Enough time has past now that I just feel sorry for him. I have seen karma at work. Believe me, it does come around. All the hatred, and anger that my ex displayed has come back to haunt him. People have abandoned him, no longer trust him and his relationship with his kids is pretty shaky. As for me, it feels good to have let go and move on. I finally feel whole again. I don’t think I would have if I couldn’t forgive.

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  5. Thank you for posting on forgiveness. You are correct in saying it is such a personal journey. I have recently been working on it myself and it is a long road, but makes a person stronger. I hope you are able to work through your journey too!

  6. Do understand your feelings!!Luckily, in my case, it was my friends’ support that saw me through the entire process and that keeps me sane even today.A mother would prefer to take the rough road alone than letting the whole embittered, misguided extended family bog her down and spoil the children’s lives.:(

    Forgiveness: I am not sure if I should have unnecessarily apologised and forgiven him every time he was at fault just to buy peace at home from the begining.Maybe that was perceived as a weakness and the equation just kept losing balance.

    Anyways, once the children start doing well in life, i think it becomes easier to forget if not forgive.

    Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year!!

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  8. so, true, Wendy. I have many friends who have gone through a divorce. It’s funny how the friends flee under these circumstances (like it’s contagious). I hope your life is better now. Happy holidays!

  9. I have never been through a divorce but my sisters have so I know a little about the pain and nastiness that can occur when it happens. As for fogiveness it isn’t always easy but we do feel better if we are able to forgive.

  10. Thanks again for another helpful message from the heart. TLC* for oneself is critical, challenging, and ongoing; and it helps to make ‘forgiveness’ happen. I noticed this again after including ‘special TLC*’ in my most recent blog article, ‘Beyond Work: Guiding Your Self and Your Spirit as Well’. Check it out for your self and your spirit: http://bit.ly/TZE7eY

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