I forgive you, Relative C.

I forgive you. I truly do. It is not easy to do it but I am trying to be a better Christian and that requires forgiving people that the very thought of makes my blood boil. I am (really) only human.

So, I forgive you.

I forgive you for turning from me when I was in a time of crisis in my life. When those closest to me turned on me, you offered me a safe haven and I thank you. I went, never expecting that you, whom I trusted, would turn my haven into a pit of despair worse than that which I had left I forgive you for chastising me to the extreme when what I needed was compassion and understanding.

I forgive you for not recognizing my depression and anxiety for the true disorder that it is. I have always felt that with your credentials, you should have been able to recognize some of the signs of it and to get me the help that I needed. Instead, you threw the Church in my face and Aliens on the television and scared me off my faith for years.

When I later had my beautiful oldest baby, you shunned me. I understand now that you were bitter from your own loss of a child and for your loss, I am sorry, but at the time, I was so wrapped up in my own world of watching my baby breathing via a machine, and feeding her with a syringe and tube through her nose, to really grasp your pain. I am sorry that all I could feel was the pain and terror of my whole world turning upside down and inside out. I am sorry that I did not understand that you were simply lashing out at me in your own anger and pain.

I forgive you for leaving a terrible stain on the spotless white of the day of our daughter’s First Communion. I went against our instincts and authorized you to come and visit. I invited you into the bosom of my family and friends to celebrate this amazing moment. Sadly, you chose to bring your personal agenda and complaints against our family to our celebration. The words that you said to us all that day and the effect that they had could not be erased, nor can they or your actions, be forgotten. However, you are forgiven for your words and actions that day.

I forgive you for choosing to elevate one of my children over the others. I understand that you feel she is special and she absolutely is. She is amazing and special and no one knows that more than her father and I. HOWEVER, we also have 2 other small miracles that walk through our lives every day and keep us awake at night. We have 3 children and each one of them is special and amazing in her own individual way. We DO NOT elevate one above the other. They all get the same level of love and attention that any scatterbrained parent with more than 1 child can give. Therefore, I forgive you for treating our oldest as better than the rest. I do ask, however, that if you send birthday/Christmas presents for one, you send presents for all of their respective birthdays and Christmas. I do think that is only fair to all of them.

Most of all, I forgive you for your constant, insidious slandering of my husband and I to our oldest daughter. I do not think that anyone should ever speak badly of a child’s parents to or around that child. However, you have chosen to do this continuously, in spite of our attempts to stop this without severing ties. Please understand, that, while we forgive you for your actions and your words that have severely damaged the relationship that we have with my grandmother and yourself, we cannot allow this negativity to continue in our lives.

Maybe that is what God is trying to tell me. That not all families get along. That it is okay to pray for a family member while severing contact. For, while I cannot imagine the pain that you have gone through (and the Lord does), you cannot imagine the pain and trials that my husband and I have gone through (again, though, the Lord does). You think that we live a life of sin and sit in judgment of my husband and me to our child. I forgive you for this. I forgive you for being unable to remove the plank from your eye. I pray that God leads you to the Mirror of His Love so that you can see your way to forgiveness.

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11 thoughts on “I forgive you, Relative C.

  1. Wow Krys, this is very powerful… my prayers are with you. We did have to sever ties with my husband’s family for a while, partly because of our choosing partly because of his famiy’s decision to cease all contact. It was the most hellacious two years of our lives for many reasons, but also one that brought the most healing once the separation was allowed to occur. This is never easy or done lightly. For the sake of your family, your precious little ones, please don’t be afraid to make that decision, the alternative is far worse. We will pray for you and your husband and children.

    Blessings,
    Hiland Rose

  2. Mmmmm, Krysia, my heart is SO with you. I agree with Hiland, and it is not easy… but sometimes love (I hesitate to say Twoo Wuv, but it popped in my mind… sorry ;)) requires that we remove poison from our lives out of LOVE. By poison, I don’t mean that people are poison, however, their behavior may be. We have had to distance ourselves from some family members and last year, an entire parish, because of favoritism and plain ole’ poisonous pride. Neither of those qualities spring from love. You have my utmost supprot, and I applaud your courage in voicing something that is real for most everyone… although most people choose to keep these things a dark family secret.

    Love and blessings,
    shalimamma

  3. As much as I sympathize with the writer who explains why the many instances of outrage have culminated in the severing of a relationship, I am not sure this is the Catholic way of forgiveness. I myself have faced similar challenges with family members, and found myself needing to distance myself from them, so I do understand. However, I read this posting trying to imagine what I would think if I were the relative in question and I saw this. I don’t believe I would feel forgiveness or forgiven. I would understand what the subtext truly expresses: I am being given a dressing down, a telling off, and a justification for cutting me out of your life. But imagine if God dealt with us like this: “Well, I forgive you, I truly do, but I remember everything you did to Me, in detail, and since you just pissed Me off too many times in too many ways over too many years, well, don’t even bother to come near Me or My family again. But I forgive you, I truly do.”
    Maybe your cutting this person off is well deserved. How would I know? It is good for you to take the first steps in forgiving someone who hurts you cruelly and repeatedly, not wanting to be bitter or hold onto resentment. But your anger and retaliation are showing under the guise of “forgiveness.” The posting screams of un-forgiveness, and self-righteousness as well. “Let he who has not sinned cast the first stone.” I am not against distancing yourself from someone who hands out too much hurt to bear, but this posting bothers me because it pretends to forgive but really chastises. Better to have made personal admissions to your own family members that as much as you wish you could overlook the behavior, you just get too hurt by what is said or done, and perhaps less contact with the person is the way to go. Jesus from the cross, the instrument of His death, forgave his executioners and prayed for them, AFTER they beat Him, tortured Him, mocked Him, cruelly dragged and prodded Him, then hung Him up to die, and they did not apologize or have remorse. “Father, forgive them. They know not what they do.” His request was sincere. He shows us what we must do. This is the way of Catholic forgiveness.
    Sorry, please don’t be angry at what I have said. I do understand your position. However, don’t Dr. Phil this, and think it is forgiveness. Catholicism requires more of you than what you have offered, and it would be a shame if others reading your posting believed you have demonstrated Catholic teaching on forgiveness. I pray for reconciliation between you and the offender. God bless you.

    • Hi Bonnie… thank you for stopping by and offering your thoughts. Please bear with me as I share mine…

      Oooooh, dear, I believe I have heard a lay person tell me what ‘a true Catholic ought to do’ before. And maybe a lay person or two compared me to Christ on the cross and His perfect forgiveness. Thing is, Krysia is not perfect, and neither am I, and neither are you, and therefore, our forgiveness process is generally going to be a bit messy. Oh, I wish I could get scourged and crucified and gracefully with perfect love say “Father, forgive them!”

      … BUT WAIT! What about when Christ said, from the cross, “My God My God, why have You abandoned me?” Was that… despair? Lack of trust? Not… Christian, or Catholic of Him?

      My point, with true respect for you and a smile, is: let’s not Dr. Phil Christ. He is REAL too, and I am quite sure you have depth and compassion in your heart if you are even reading this blog. I thank you for that. But please understand, some of us are doing our best to forgive, imperfectly, and getting out our righteous hurt and anger, and yet charitably keeping names anonymous out of love. I know Krysia personally. And I can tell you, she has BEGGED for her family’s love and has been through much suffering, more than many of us. She has been misunderstood often, something she and I have in common. When someone starts to say ‘in order to be Catholic, you must…’ I start to cringe. It has a ‘pedistal’ ring to it, even though you may not intend that.

      This blog is a forum to charitably share hurts, joys, victories, suffering… in reality and not in a glossy way. I am not so squeaky clean myself, if you read MY letters of forgiveness. I cried often as I wrote those, because they were from my heart, and I had no other way to communicate to those who didn’t want to hear it, which is part of healing.

      I think if you looked into Krysia’s clear blue eyes and knew where this passion came from, and what love she has in her heart, you would understand.

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts… ;)

      Blessings,
      Shalimamma

    • Dear Bonnie,
      First off, let me thank you for your honesty. I truly appreciate it.
      I have had a lot more to overcome with this family member than what it is noted here in my posted. These are not listed because these things are *intensely* personal and I just can’t justify saying anything about them in a public forum. It has taken me the better part of 15 YEARS to get to this point. I have struggled with this decision, prayed, and have sought advice from several people, including priests. The universal answer has been “shake the dust from your feet” and move on.
      I realize that this is an imperfect letter of forgiveness. I realize that it does not display an adequate reflection of Christ’s Love for my Relative C and myself, but I am an imperfect being. I am a Catholic-in-progress. I strive for Christlike thoughts and behaviors but I always fall far short. This letter to my relative is one that hurt to write, I cried and agonized over it. Forgiveness is not always easy. Forgetting is even harder. Believe me when I say that I would much rather NOT have to cut this person off. It makes life very awkward. I truly believe, in my heart, that it is for the best for myself and my family. I can no longer handle the stress and drama that my relative brings with her. Therefore, I am thankful for the Forgiveness of Christ, and I continue to pray for peace in my heart and to hope for an eventual relationship with Relative C, although that would probably be far in the future.
      I shared this because I think it is important to tell the truth. My previous posting regarding forgiveness as an attribute of the strong, addresses that one must be strong to forgive. It’s taken me nearly 15 years to feel strong enough to get to the point where I could even begin this process. In the end though, the only forgiveness that matters is Christ’s. I will not sit in judgement at the end of Relative C’s days and I am thankful for that. She will not sit in judgement of me at the end of my days. Christ gave His Life so that He could forgive our sins and grant us entrance to Heaven.
      Again, THANK YOU, Bonnie, for your comments and I pray that you have a blessed week.
      Krysia

    • Dear Bonnie,

      I read this while it was still in moderation, had to take a break and come back. I have also read Shalimamma and Krys2000’s responses and I agree… (I have a fiercely loyal streak and also understand intimately the foot in mouth syndrome being a constant example of that myself.)

      We do appreciate your honesty, sometimes, it is hard to put something like that out there and not come off “doctrinaire”. When dealing with something so raw and painful as what Krys described (with charity and restraint if I might add!) it is disturbing to read. Forgiveness is often mistaken for a mentality of rose colored glasses…that is so unrealistic, it’s practically sinful… Forgiveness works in stages and it doesn’t mean that the hurt feelings, the anger the woundedness ever goes away….it becomes less, it becomes managable but it doesn’t mean that every thing goes back the way it was before the hurt. (kind of like recovering from an addiction) For something as deep as what Krys describes that is constant and ongoing from a blood relative, someone who is close…. I think she handled this the best way she could manage. The fact that she lovingly pointed out that there are consequences for the behavior, not making idle threats or spewing venom in her statements speaks to the level of healing she has already experienced and her willingness upon true reconciliation to maintian the relationship with that person.

      Jesus did tell his disciples to shake the dust from their feet when they were not being listened to, or rejected. When it comes to family situations like the one Krys2000 so bravely wrote about, this is so hard but her marriage and the psychological health of her daughters trumps the ties of blood to this relative… and if the relative can’t see what they are doing to her and her family, they need the separation in order to be honest with themselves, and Krys2000 needs to break from this to heal and let God in to the gap, she can’t fix it.

      Bonnie, I know you meant the best when you wrote your piece, it was well written, we don’t want you to feel as if you should only be an observer, not a participant if you feel the desire to comment. Your apology and humility are something that we appreciate here. We all wade in once or twice where we probably shouldn’t. (guilty guilty guilty.;)
      That is where forgiveness comes in…

      Take care and don’t be afraid to come back. None of us are perfect and I
      for one appreciate a place where I can let my hair down and be myself. ;)

      Blessings,
      The Hiland Rose

  4. Shalimamma,
    Thanks for taking time to look at and respond to what I wrote. I tried to write a response to KRYS2000 for over a week as I pondered exactly what bothered me about the post. I wrote many things, deleted them, wrote again, deleted that, and thought some more. I just couldn’t seem to get my thoughts crystal clear on what bothered me. I think what I ended up writing came off badly anyway…too doctrinaire. Maybe I should have just let it go, and moved on. Sometimes I do that because I find I just don’t have the skill to explain myself kindly and clearly in writing. I’m not going to try to clarify what I wrote because, dang it, I tried to get it right for a week, and I see I have failed.
    Thanks anyway for having a blog where Catholic people share what is really going on with them and try to have a conversation about it. From now on, I’ll just be a reader, unless I am sure my comments won’t further muck up the conversation. God bless you and thanks for your response.
    By the way, you don’t have to post this comment, but if you want to you can. Thanks.

    • I’m new to this blog and clicked on the title of forgiveness because that is exactly what I struggle with- forgiveness. It has been a long 6 year road for me,and I still feel incompetent and weak in my resolve. I just wanted to thank you for your candidness in writing. I was blown away for the gumption you had to publicly post that. It was raw, honest, and helped me heal some more on my own. Thank you. I wanted to also say thank you to Bonnie for your words on what Catholic forgiveness should look like. I don’t think you should feel bad in the slightest, after all you were preaching truth. It is hard for those of us who have gone through hell to be perfect in tat situation. We are weak and unfortunately is a learning process for us to overcome sin and learn to love….whereas Christ can do nothing but love, and love perfectly. The Catholic Church does teach that we our anger, bitterness, and hurt in situations can be righteous. It is a matter of learning to deal with that so our anger etc. doesn’t rule our lives- thereby making us sin and sin and sin rather than resolve. Setting boundaries is Church teaching. Leaving relationships is not a bad thing. The gospel says it will divide “mother in law against daughter in law…” Just because they are family does not mean they are behaving righteously. As Catholics we need to behave righteously and not subject ourselves to unhealthy situations. The Church also teaches that human failings can burn bridges. That’s ok. That’s a product of sin. We need to find a way to build other bridges, through forgiveness, because the Church also knows we’re human and thus cannot magically erase our memory. On a personal note, the point I am at right now is: I remember so much, it makes me angry and mad, I resent, and I just frankly don’t understand why things had/have to be the way they are. I understand others decided to sin gravely against charity and justice. Not me. I still keep my mouth shut and don’t retaliate. Others cannot comprehend what they are doing. Sad, but that’s how it is. Being so caught up in sin i have to forgive them and trust in Christ to change their hearts to him. I’ve set my boundaries. I’ve quietly cut ties. I feel good about where I’m at in life. I continue to strive to forgive, to be able to forget enough that I can treat them respectfully when I do encounter them. I’m also fully aware that I have offended them. I think my actions were called for- asking for bad behavior to stop- but they don’t see it that way. I just hope they can forgive me just as much and heal in their own way. I know Christ has them under his control. I just need to focus on my life, having my boundaries in place, and trusting in Christ. Thank you all for your words and thank you Bonnie.

      • Wow, Susie, thank you.
        I am so honored that you stopped by and commented. I’m glad that my story has helped some. Forgiveness is hard and this letter was 15 years (or thereabouts) in the making. In an ideal world, I could “forgive and forget” but the fact is that I am human and thus have a memory. Only God’s forgiveness is perfect. I forgive imperfectly here and hope that God, in His Divine Perfection, will forgive me perfectly in the fullness of His time.
        My prayers are with you on your journey, Susie. Do not be afraid to give yourself time to heal and to become strong so that you can forgive.
        -Krysia

      • Krysia,
        You summed it up perfectly- we are human and forgive imperfectly. I’ll actually be carrying this with me as a reminder to just keep trying….God’s grace will take care of the rest. Thank you so much! My prayers for you too that you continue to heal!

  5. I’m new to this blog and clicked on the title of forgiveness because that is exactly what I struggle with- forgiveness. It has been a long 6 year road for me,and I still feel incompetent and weak in my resolve. I just wanted to thank you for your candidness in writing. I was blown away for the gumption you had to publicly post that. It was raw, honest, and helped me heal some more on my own. Thank you. I wanted to also say thank you to Bonnie for your words on what Catholic forgiveness should look like. I don’t think you should feel bad in the slightest, after all you were preaching truth. It is hard for those of us who have gone through hell to be perfect in tat situation. We are weak and unfortunately is a learning process for us to overcome sin and learn to love….whereas Christ can do nothing but love, and love perfectly. The Catholic Church does teach that we our anger, bitterness, and hurt in situations can be righteous. It is a matter of learning to deal with that so our anger etc. doesn’t rule our lives- thereby making us sin and sin and sin rather than resolve. Setting boundaries is Church teaching. Leaving relationships is not a bad thing. The gospel says it will divide “mother in law against daughter in law…” Just because they are family does not mean they are behaving righteously. As Catholics we need to behave righteously and not subject ourselves to unhealthy situations. The Church also teaches that human failings can burn bridges. That’s ok. That’s a product of sin. We need to find a way to build other bridges, through forgiveness, because the Church also knows we’re human and thus cannot magically erase our memory. On a personal note, the point I am at right now is: I remember so much, it makes me angry and mad, I resent, and I just frankly don’t understand why things had/have to be the way they are. I understand others decided to sin gravely against charity and justice. Not me. I still keep my mouth shut and don’t retaliate. Others cannot comprehend what they are doing. Sad, but that’s how it is. Being so caught up in sin i have to forgive them and trust in Christ to change their hearts to him. I’ve set my boundaries. I’ve quietly cut ties. I feel good about where I’m at in life. I continue to strive to forgive, to be able to forget enough that I can treat them respectfully when I do encounter them. I’m also fully aware that I have offended them. I think my actions were called for- asking for bad behavior to stop- but they don’t see it that way. I just hope they can forgive me just as much and heal in their own way. I know Christ has them under his control. I just need to focus on my life, having my boundaries in place, and trusting in Christ. Thank you all for your words and thank you Bonnie.

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