Friday, July 8, 2011

Spin Cycle- Forgiveness

Damn, I need a cookie today.  One of those nice Italian butter cookies with the sprinkles on top?  The kind that are verboten at our house due to said brightly colored sprinkles?  Sigh.  Why do I want this cookie so bad???  I'm blaming it on Jen.  She wants us to talk about forgiveness, which always makes me think of my very Italian, very grudge holding extended family.  And they make me think of those cookies.

My childhood memories are filled with women sitting around tables, or at the stove, talking partially in Italian, and partially English (and me sitting under the table, eating cookies).  And I wish I could say that I remember them saying nice, polite, happy things.  But I don't.  Because as much as they all loved each other, they were a tad vicious.  Who had wronged who 20 years ago and still gets malocchio (look it up) at church.  Who didn't go to who's wedding because they weren't speaking to this one or that one.  Who had better not show up because of some minor wrong they had committed and not self flagellated enough to pay their penance in the eyes of my mother and her sister and sisters in law.  You'd think they would get tired of it, but no.  Fifteen years after she had moved out of their house, my mother still held grudges against her sister's in laws (people who took in my Mom and her younger brother when their parents died- and reminded her of it every day she lived there...)  It's exhausting just to think about all the emotions wasted on past hurts.  And you would think it would have ended with that generation, but nope, it didn't.

An abrupt turn in the story:

My brother has not spoken to my extended family in, hmmm, let's see now, almost 19 years.  Yup, going on 2 decades.  He lives down the street from my cousin.  Does he pick up the phone?  Reach out?  Nope, it's like she's a stranger.  Why?  Because when my parents died he imagined some sort of slight against him from them.  I can't even pinpoint what he thinks they did or said.  Or maybe it's something they didn't do or say, who knows?  No matter, he is completely uninterested in connecting with them. It kills me.  He didn't go to his Godfather's funeral.  Has ignored wedding invitations, calls, holiday gatherings.  He would rather eat his Christmas dinner with a friend at a diner than let them back into his life.  I would give my right arm to be close enough to see them regularly.

I used to wonder how he did it?  How did he hold all that anger over "something" that happened almost 20 years ago?  Ahhh, it's inherited.  That ability to hold a never ending grudge is genetic (think Hatfields and McCoys).  He gets if from my Mom.  She was amazing at it.  There was very little forgive and almost no forget in her world.  Sigh. (and when it give it some thought, my ex was like this, too.  well, that's not a shocker...)

I refuse to carry that on.  Actually, I can't think of anything that someone has done so wrong to me that I would need to truly "forgive them".  Little things here or there, but nothing that I would carry to my grave, certainly.  So, I tend to just let it go.  I might grump for a day, two at the most, but then I need to move on.  I might decide that I need to remove myself from a situation, or let a friend slowly roll out of my life, but I never end things on such a sour note that I feel anger over it (and hopefully, they don't either...)  My emotional tank needs to empty out the yuck and let in something better for it, I think.  That's just how I roll. 

How about you?  Long standing feuds, or quick scapes and on to greener pastures?

For more takes on forgiveness and such, go see Sprite's Keeper and the other Spinners.


Sprite's Keeper said...

I definitely don't hold onto grudges for years, but I did hold one against this friend of John's since she was very rude to me both times we had met and just had a very nasty air about her. John never saw what I did, until lately when her true character came out and he reported back to me saying, "you were completely right. She's whacko." I forgive him for ever doubting me. :-)
I hope your brother can work through his own thoughts on why he's cut off contact. Family is family, no matter how screwed up they are.
You're linked!

Jan said...

Neither of my sisters are speaking to me. I know why my youngest sister isn't, and while I won't say I wasn't at fault it's not something I would hold a grudge against - and I've apologized and asked for forgiveness many times. *shrugs* At this point there's nothing I can do but accept her decision.

My other sister stopped speaking to me a year ago. No explanation as to why, she just...stopped. She won't return my phone calls or emails, so again - I have no choice but to accept it. (In this case, it's a little bit of a relief because this sister is bipolar and lives in a maelstrom of melodrama...but I still love her and wish I knew what happened.)

At least my brother and I have a good relationship.

Anonymous said...

My mother and her two sisters do not speak to each other. Three sisters - all in isolation. It's been so long, who knows if anyone remembers why. I speak to my two aunts occasionally, but it's this deep cavernous rift. Weird for the cousins too because we all grew up together.

I just don't get it. It makes my mom nervous that all of us (six) siblings are all friendly with each other.

I hope your brother can work through it.

Good spin!!

Kate said...

I think sometimes we need to give our family permission to take the time and space they need to heal, as hard as it is for us!

Patty O. said...

It's amazing how hard it is to forgive sometimes. I have such a hard time understanding when people refuse to forgive family members. Half the time, I think it's misunderstanding and miscommunication. That's great that you don't follow that same example. I think it probably makes you much happier.

Frogs in my formula said...

I learned a long time ago that holding onto anger only hurts the one holding on. Letting go and forgiving are gifts you give to yourself.

Sorry to hear about your relationship with your brother.

Pseudo said...

I think the forgiving and forgetting has to start somewhere,with someone. In your family, it is you ; -) I agree, it takes more energy to hold a grudge than it does to let something go.

blueviolet said...

His situation might not warrant it, but trust me, there are situations that do. We have a rift in my family that will never be repaired, and I'm totally fine with it.

Casey said...

Forgiveness is hard. I'm a grudge holder in some areas but others, I let go. I don't talk to my biological father because he was an alcoholic who beat the crap out of my mom and was a constant disappointment in my life. So when I was 18 (and my mom could no longer force me to see him), I stopped talking to him, even though he cleaned up his act that year. Too little, too late. Of course, my stupid brothers still talk to him so I have to see him at weddings and stuff. Jerkface.

Wow, long, rambling post.