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Apology


atb37
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Hello.

I posted an ext here a few months ago, and then freaked myself out about it a little bit, because of the subject matter. In addition, I have never been on a forum before. I might have been trying too many new things at once. <embarrassed>blush.png

I may have lurked a little. Please allow me to apologise for this, I will try to make more noise.

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“In the previous episode” I grew up in a form of Christianity, got the shits, and left.

 

A few years ago though, after some events that I’m not inclined to share here because they don’t concern me, my parents started to think that they had made a few mistakes along the way, and needed to make a few changes.

The biggest, both substantively and figuratively, was a change in church. My dad had been a pastor there since its inception, so obviously it was a big step for them. Luckily, they moved to a less unhinged congregation (I know, but you can’t have everything).

 

Some months after that, just before I moved out (for reasons unrelated to these), they sat me down one Sunday afternoon and apologised to me for the whole thing. Just like that, in one twenty-minute ‘conversation’ (it was pretty one-sided). They apologised for the excessive strictness, the deprivation of various developmental conditions, the public humiliation, the anger and fighting, and so on. Both parents had previously made the odd specific apology but this was the first general apology that had been made.

 

I’ve had trouble dealing with it, for a number of reasons, which I would like to share.

  • It feels meaningless, a feeling consistent with experience. When I was little, unhinged conduct would be engaged in, then apologised for, although it was always clear that refusal to accept such apologies was an offence. This taking advantage of people’s forgiveness, especially through the use of comparison to God’s forgiveness of sins, is all too common.
  • This lead to me developing the habit of saying that I have forgiven someone, and bear no animosity, when in fact I have done no such thing. This causes resentment and enmity to develop, that can’t be resolved because I shot my mouth off. This went on to develop further in ways that are beyond the scope of this post, but my point here is that it was a trap I fell into. Fortunately, I’ve had a few people around me in recent times who hit me over the head whenever I apologise reflexively.
  • My anger and I were pretty good friends. As much as it needed to go, I’m sad to see it gone. Also, what do I fill this particular hole in my heart with? (Is this immature?)

So I am not sure how to proceed. I have decided not to be upset or bitter, as good as it makes me feel for short periods of time. It was a short rush followed by feeling like my soul had been immersed in acid. The other downside was the amount of energy it consumed. Maintaining the rage was a little like cramming for an exam.

The other way I am managing this is to build a civil relationship with my parents. With the exception of talking about myself, I am able to converse freely with either of them on a range of topics not related to religion, without feeling uncomfortable. The biggest change in this whole thing is that I am not really scared of being around them anymore. I don’t know what I can do from here, though.

 

Anyway, I’m not really sure what I’m trying to do with this post, sometimes it’s nice to write things down.

Thank you, again. smile.png

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Hi, atb37.

 

It's hard to tell exactly what went on that lead to this apology from your parents (and the details are none of my business), but it sounds like your father was the pastor of a dysfunctional church for a number of years during your childhood. It appears that the dysfunction in the church affected your home and personal life and that your relationship with your parents suffered from it all. It also sounds like it caused you a lot of anger which, for whatever reason, you were unable to express adequately. It also sounds like your parents were aware of how difficult all of this was on you and would occasionally apologize to you for it, though little really changed. It seems as you would "forgive" them in word, but not in fact and held onto the anger.

 

Now they have apologized again, but this time it appears to be different, particularly since they actually took some steps to try to make a real change by leaving the dysfunctional church.

 

There is no mandate to forgive anyone of anything. Whether you forgive your parents is your choice to make. But I think your friends are correct that merely saying the words without feeling true forgiveness in your heart is meaningless. My advice is not to "forgive" your parents until or unless you feel true forgiveness deep inside. Rather, you may want to consider discussing the details of what happened with your parents and telling them how you were affected by everything that took place. If they do not know these details then they have no idea of what they have to apologize for and what they can now do to try to make it "right" with you. In other words, without a knowledgable apology there cannot be true forgiveness on your part.

 

I hope it all goes well with you.

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Hi and welcome back!

 

Forgiveness doesn't mean what Christians think it means. They think it's a blank check and all they have to do is look doe-eyed at someone and go "pweeze fowgive meeeee" and that's it, sin erased, let's all go be BFFs FOREVER again and be happy fun times all over again till next time. Hell, the person apologizing doesn't even have to know what exactly is being apologized for! And the person being asked for forgiveness always has to automatically grant it, or else they're the bad guy! Manipulators must love Christianity.

 

Your parents' apology, while nice, may smack of insincerity just because you're so used to people apologizing like that. I'd respectfully submit that OF's suggestion of really talking to them about how their actions made you feel will bring a much more sincere apology from your folks. A real apology is one that's made with full understanding of the offense. It also involves restitution, if such is possible, and an action plan for preventing the injury from occurring again. If they never get that far, you don't actually need their apology to process the injury, acknowledge and honor your feelings of pain, learn whatever lessons need to be learned from the incident, and move past what happened. To me, that's what forgiveness means: you've processed what happened and don't feel that same anger or pain about it anymore. I think an apology speeds up the process of forgiveness, but I don't think it's absolutely essential. I do think that the way Christians use apologies robs their victims of their natural pain and anger--not only are you required to instantly forgive anybody who asks you to, you're also not allowed to feel those things after you "forgive" someone. It's heartless.

 

You don't need to forgive anybody, though, ultimately. And if you do end up forgiving them one day, that doesn't mean you'll open yourself up to them like you may have once. Unfortunately they've demonstrated that, at heart, they're the type of people who'd emotionally injure their own kid if an imaginary friend told them to do so. If you decided to limit your emotional investment in them to prevent future issues, nobody sensible would blame you. Forgiveness doesn't mean forgetting. It just means you've moved on. Good luck, hon, and I really do hope it works out with you and your folks.

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Hi, atb37.

 

It's hard to tell exactly what went on that lead to this apology from your parents (and the details are none of my business), but it sounds like your father was the pastor of a dysfunctional church for a number of years during your childhood. It appears that the dysfunction in the church affected your home and personal life and that your relationship with your parents suffered from it all. It also sounds like it caused you a lot of anger which, for whatever reason, you were unable to express adequately. It also sounds like your parents were aware of how difficult all of this was on you and would occasionally apologize to you for it, though little really changed. It seems as you would "forgive" them in word, but not in fact and held onto the anger.

Yes, yes, yes, yes and yes.

I hope it all goes well with you.

Thank you.

Forgiveness doesn't mean what Christians think it means. They think it's a blank check and all they have to do is look doe-eyed at someone and go "pweeze fowgive meeeee" and that's it, sin erased, let's all go be BFFs FOREVER again and be happy fun times all over again till next time. Hell, the person apologizing doesn't even have to know what exactly is being apologized for! And the person being asked for forgiveness always has to automatically grant it, or else they're the bad guy! Manipulators must love Christianity.

Why not? All you have to do to be saved is say a few words, why shouldn't that work everywhere else?

Your parents' apology, while nice, may smack of insincerity just because you're so used to people apologizing like that. I'd respectfully submit that OF's suggestion of really talking to them about how their actions made you feel will bring a much more sincere apology from your folks. A real apology is one that's made with full understanding of the offense. It also involves restitution, if such is possible, and an action plan for preventing the injury from occurring again. If they never get that far, you don't actually need their apology to process the injury, acknowledge and honor your feelings of pain, learn whatever lessons need to be learned from the incident, and move past what happened. To me, that's what forgiveness means: you've processed what happened and don't feel that same anger or pain about it anymore. I think an apology speeds up the process of forgiveness, but I don't think it's absolutely essential. I do think that the way Christians use apologies robs their victims of their natural pain and anger--not only are you required to instantly forgive anybody who asks you to, you're also not allowed to feel those things after you "forgive" someone. It's heartless.

I think you said what I was trying to say better that the way I said it. That being said, one of the things I'm having to think about is the fact that they knew all along what they were doing, that it was hurtful etc, so in a sense the sincerity of the apology isn't a major issue at the moment.

 

This all went down in the tail end of a series of events involving other family members and other issues. I might have had, at that time, the opportunity to go into more detail with them about why I am upset with them. I didn't, partially out of fatigue, partially out of mistrust, and partially out of fear that they weren't being upfront. However, these changes have been maintained, so I have entertained thoughts of regret on occasion about keeping my mouth shut at the time. Now I feel uneasy about opening this up again. Why would you dig that up and so on.

You don't need to forgive anybody, though, ultimately. And if you do end up forgiving them one day, that doesn't mean you'll open yourself up to them like you may have once. Unfortunately they've demonstrated that, at heart, they're the type of people who'd emotionally injure their own kid if an imaginary friend told them to do so. If you decided to limit your emotional investment in them to prevent future issues, nobody sensible would blame you. Forgiveness doesn't mean forgetting. It just means you've moved on. Good luck, hon, and I really do hope it works out with you and your folks.

Thank you. There are some things I need (or at least would like very much) to change/achieve before that would be possible. Ultimately, though, I'm not sure things will proceed past guarded civility.

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If it doesn't, it doesn't. It's up to you how much you let these people into your life post-"apology" and post-forgiveness. I think it's important that you show honor and respect to yourself by recognizing and acknowledging your pain and allowing it to guide and inform you. They hurt you. You're allowed to take as much time as you need--even the rest of your life if you want--to find a resolution to that pain. I don't think it'll take that long. If you're reasonably healthy, you'll move on eventually and not feel quite as hurt. Time heals almost all wounds. What you don't need to do is mouth platitudes that aren't true and try to force yourself to live by them, as Christians would have you do.

 

Now I feel uneasy about opening this up again. Why would you dig that up and so on.

 

Someone who actually feels bad about hurting you won't mind if you bring up old pain to get it resolved. Imagine you were madly in love with the perfect person, and that person came to you to tell you about something you'd done that had been painful a few years ago. Would you rather your true love just sit on that pain for years, or would you rather know you'd done something to hurt him/her so you could make amends and apologize immediately? Dunno about you, but I'd be devastated to know I'd hurt someone I loved and they didn't say anything about it for years! If your family gets pissy about you bringing up old hurts, that'll tell you volumes about whether they want to actually resolve anything, or if they'd just rather maintain a fiction.

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