The act of forgiveness eluded me for enough time to teach me wisdom. During that time I suffered as I fantasised about what I could’ve done to prevent or avenge what I perceived as a great injustice.
SPOILER ALERT: Stop reading if you intend on watching The Virtues on Channel Four.
I watched the Channel Four mini series The Virtues this week. The harrowing and raw perspective presented compulsive viewing. I followed Joseph’s decline into the abyss of alcoholism. I empathised so much with the character as he reluctantly purchased alcohol and pondered the first sip with such intensity I wanted to stop watching, but couldn’t. When he succumbed he entered the realms of blackout and chaos; when the drink is in the sense is out / Nuair a bhíonn an fíon istigh, bíonn an ciall amuigh. However, he was able to make significantly better choices when he made the best choice of all; not to drink. He then had the opportunity to consider the consequences of another binge, to empathise with people who cared about his well being and to confront life on life’s terms i.e. contemplate gratitude and forgiveness. When Joseph confronts his abuser it’s the act of forgiveness that sets him free. I was tethered to thoughts of violence, anger, hatred, anguish and despair. Similarly I let go and trusted that in doing so I was relinquishing the impossible for a very real more positive and aspiring future free from a persecuting past.
I have included some quotes that explain what forgiveness is in it’s oxymoronic simplicity and complexity. I think personally I make forgiveness a complicated matter because I simply do not want to seem weak in allowing a deed to be perpetrated against me and for it to go unacknowledged and unpunished. Then I ultimately suffer by playing scenarios over and over in my mind. In terms of AA forgiveness ia a surrendering of something that can’t be changed i.e. the ability to drink like a gentleman. Let go, Let God/Higher Power take care of it through prayer, meditation, mindfulness, practicing the AA Principles etc. In forgiving, you are essentially giving up the losing battle so you can move on. Grow through what you go through, accept the things that cannot be changed and courageously forge ahead knowing you have acquired a new wisdom.
“Forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past could have been any different, it’s accepting the past for what it was, and using this moment and this time to help yourself move forward.”
― oprah winfrey
“Forgiveness means giving up all hope for a better past.”
― Lily Tomlin
“Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.”
— Mark Twain
“You can’t forgive without loving. And I don’t mean sentimentality. I don’t mean mush. I mean having enough courage to stand up and say, ‘I forgive. I’m finished with it.“
“In order for forgiveness to happen, something has to die. If you make a choice to forgive, you have to face into the pain. You simply have to hurt.“
I sincerely hope that I have provided some solace if you’re struggling with the hurt. Have faith that the wisdom you need to move forward in life is close and by reaching out, being inquisitive and observing examples of recovery you will be inspired to realise we can and do recover from traumatic experiences and addiction.
I’m an alcoholic sharing my experience, strength and hope. Please seek medical advice if you’re concerned about your health and well being.