Thursday, January 29, 2009

I Can't Forgive Myself

Special thanks to lovely Lana of The Dreaming Tree (check out her wonderful blog ) for making me think more deeply about this subject with her thoughtful comment about dissociative amnesia (for those interested in the subject, there's a good wikipedia article on it) on my post about "The Wrestler."

Ted Haggard spent most of his life preaching that there are no secrets, that what is done in the darkness will see the light. Books are full ghosts that won't stay quiet, secrets that won't stay buried. In the case of Ted Haggard, his secret was that he has homosexual tendencies (he does not define himself as gay or straight at this point in his life) and acted upon them from time to time. He claims he was sexually abused as a child and this forced him into a double life, one where he preached to one of the largest evangelical congregations in United States and one where he frequented male prostitutes, played "little games" (fill in the blanks here, people) with his assistant at the church (the young man received a substantial pay-off to "comfort" him), and did meth. After he lost everything, he claims to have come to know the true love and forgiveness of Jesus. Now he must make amends to those whom he has hurt.

Forgiveness is perhaps the most difficult concept for any of us. When we have been traumatized, our tendency is to bury it deep inside ourselves because who can bear the pain of betrayal, the dark side of love and trust? I often think of my mother and her childhood where she endured her parents' abuse until they abandoned her in the middle of the night, one step ahead of the creditors as usual, and she'd become a piece of furniture too cumbersome to move one more time. And how much pain that caused her not in her early youth, but later, when she could no longer forget and pretend it didn't matter. Ted Haggard's wife is sticking with him despite all the lies (claiming there are fireworks in the bedroom with Ted on Oprah -- this defense made me sadder than anything else on the entire show for some reason). And of course, he has asked forgiveness from the homosexual community whom he maligned for years. Every once in a while, you'll hear someone say he or she can't forgive themselves. Which I admire since it indicates a frank understanding of the damage done. But what are we to do with those who never admit complicity to the pain they have caused? Unlike a lot of times when we ask a question, I don't have the start of an answer.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"How much is your sin going to cost me?" Ted Haggard

Cocktail Hour
Drinking documentary suggestion: The Trials Of Ted Haggard (tonight on HBO!)

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Thursday!


Anonymous said...

Forgiveness is an incomprehensible thing. Easier to give others than yourself. Even more valuable when given or received while undeserved.

I wish I knew how to tell others how to forgive, but I can't. Too often I don't know how to do it myself.

Yet forgiveness is powerful. It's the beginning, not the end, of release from what tortures us.

Yeah, That Anonymous

Anonymous said...

Confession is good for the soul.--Archbishop Adam Midol

Scott said...


I ,too ,often shake my head at people that commit terrible acts against others and then act as if they didn't do anything wrong. It's baffling...are they in denial, or do they really think they've done nothing wrong?

Hope your week is going well, and your weekend is good,too. I'll be getting more work done on my will be up this weekend!

Charles Gramlich said...

Most of me says I don't believe a word of his "sorry." A little piece of me hopes he's telling the truth.

Lana Gramlich said...

It used to grind my gears when mom took no responsibility for throwing me to the wolves, instead preferring to refer to me as "crazy." Another friend made a point, however. I WAS crazy, but it was largely mom's fault. That was cold comfort at best. I wasn't really saddened when mom died, of course. I shed a few tears at graveside, but more for my brother's obvious pain. I was just long numb to her. She'd reached a point even below "I don't care about you." If I ever got any validation, it was from family members on the periphery. I was surprised at their candor, now that mom wasn't there anymore to control things. I just wish they'd have spoken up a LOT sooner.

Gotta take the Jeopardy! test now...more later!

the walking man said...

The answers to the beginning of forgiveness of self are in the mystic portion of the soul, the place where the spirit resides.

That is a good place for the roots to be for then it is no longer up to the individual to decide if they have truly forgiven but rather that spirit within them being the arbiter.

I can say with my mouth all day ever day I am forgiven, both by God and myself but unless there is no longer any judgment present in the mind towards those memories, then I can be assured the process is not complete.

As I have always said forgiveness is the beginning of peace. Forgiveness is not a difficult process but it is a brutal one in that it requires not honesty with oneself but absolute truth.

Once one can face that absolute and be contrite for the actions involved in it then they can go about seeking the peace from forgiveness.

I for one will neither condemn nor support Mr. Haggard's contrition for I am not inside his heart. But I will know of his peace by his actions, which at this time seem more self serving than acts of contrition.

Dave Kowalczyk said...

But what are we to do with those who never admit complicity to the pain they have caused?

Dr. Brooks: Here in IL, we impeach them and throw them out of office!

Whitenoise said...

Somewhere there must be a Confessions for Dummies. These guys seem to read from the same script but the acting is never convincing.

chris said...

My Mother as a child was left on a West Virginia mountain by her Father. We had gone back to WV to visit her family and someone said that they knew where her father was and that we should visit. Moms reply was that Son of a bitch will never be forgiven. I met him once and as my Mother says,screw him. It was a waste of my teenage time. He never was forgiven.

Michell will you forgive me for running off to the Mexican beach for a couple of weeks ? Ha,Ha. I think you all will enjoy anyone of the restuarants I mentioned. While out with the band in Santa Fee I found another place,it is named El Ferol. I could have cut my Ribeye with the fork,highly recomended and pricy. Enjoy the weather at least the Sunshine when it is out. I am taking my lilly white ass to the beach,back in mid Feb. Best wishes and I hope to see you before you return home.

jodi said...

Hi Honey, I am just to lazy to drag any bags around with me. They are to heavy and pull me down. Everyone does what they do for their own reasons. And like death, we don't always get to know the reason. xoxo