This post will probably end up being part rant, part vent, part self-administered therapy, and part question. Confusing enough for ya? LOL!
I had something happen today that is causing me to think about forgiveness. What it means. What it looks like in practice. Is it ever complete? If you change the way you act towards/think about/or feel about a person have you really forgiven them?
Without getting into too much detail (odd for me, I know!), someone I know broke their commitment to me today. It’s going to cost me. Literally. Cost me $$$$. $1,000 I wasn’t expecting to spend. And an ongoing expense I hadn’t anticipated incurring until later.
And I’m angry. I’m frustrated with and disappointed at the person who chose not to honor their word.
I’m not naïve. I know these are incredibly difficult financial times for everyone. I really do. And knowing we are in difficult times I asked this person (let’s call them Q) back in January if we needed to make any changes.
“Nope,” said Q. “No changes are needed. No problems.”
“Cool,” said the Spudster.
Flash forward to today. “Spuds I need you to pick up that expense beginning back in January,” said the Q.
Since I’m electing to leave most of the detail out on this post I don’t know how much sense this will make. From my perspective I had asked if we needed to make any changes to the arrangement and they said we didn’t. It would be one thing to say “Hey, going forward we need to re-work this.” But to flat out say, “Pay me back for everything back to January 1” when I had already asked about it makes me want to ask them what the hell they are thinking.
Like I said. I’m angry. And frustrated. And disappointed.
And at the same time I’m not altogether surprised.
This person has a history of not keeping their word. Of lying when it would be just as easy to tell the truth—or to say nothing at all. (You know….the type of person who will, without you even asking, show you their new designer handbag and tell you how they only paid $85. And then the receipt falls on the floor and you see they actually paid $1,000. That type of thing)
They’ve lied to me in the past. They’ve broken promises. Broken commitments. “Forgotten” commitments. You name it, they’ve done it. Not all of the time. Not every time. Just often enough that it could probably be classified mathematically as a pattern.
So Mr. Spuds and I had actually put money aside for this expense. Assuming we’d eventually end up forking over the cash, but hoping against hope we wouldn’t have to.
So it’s not the money that has me angry. That part only annoys me a little. I find myself pretty happy that we thought far enough ahead to set it aside. (Sometimes being a capital J pays off—literally! )
I’m not angry about the money. I’m angry that once again this person has put their own self interests in front of mine and gone back on their word. Has broken a commitment. With no remorse and no regret. And no visible consequences.
(And before you ask, no—this isn’t a friend. It isn’t an acquaintance that I can avoid in the future. It’s someone who, for the moment, cannot be avoided. Long story.)
Integrity is important to me. It’s one of my core values. It’s one of my top core values. (Hey Jim- is there such a thing as a low-ranking core value??? LOL!) And I try to surround myself with people of integrity. Even if you are an obnoxious boorish oaf, if you have integrity I’m a lot more likely to spend time with you than if you are a surface-level gentlemen with no integrity. (Please note the deliberate use of “surface level” there. True gentlemen have integrity IMHO.) Integrity is important to me. And that’s a big part of the reason I’m angry with Q.
They broke their commitment to me. They deliberately chose to do so. I’m in a position to see other choices they make with their money. (Again, I don’t want to give details. And because of that it will be easy for you reading this to say, “Spudsie you can’t possibly know where the money is coming from.” Please take me at my word on this. I see very clearly other choices they make with their money.) It is very easy to see they simply decided they would not keep their word. And knew I was in no position to “fight” them on it.
I’d probably be a lot less angry if they said, “Hey Spudsie, I know I said I would do this. But I can’t. I need you to pay for it.” Or even, “Hey Spuds you are in no position to argue. So I’m sticking you with this expense.” At least that would be honest! J
Okay. Working through the anger. Feel it. Let it flow through me. Out my fingertips. Moving on.
Frustration and disappointment. There they are. Ah yes. Less intense than the anger. Still pretty durned negative. Flowing through. Out the fingertips. Wait! Come back! I want to hang on to y’all and nurse you some more. Kidding!! Just kidding!! Frustration and disappointment moving along. Out of my system.
I feel a calm front moving in. J
So what does all of this have to do with forgiveness? I’m so glad you asked.
Q has done this type of thing to me before. I’ve lived it a number of times in the past decade or so. Q says things and I’ve learned that I cannot depend on them to follow through—or even remember they have said them. (Or if they remember, they don’t act like they remember them.) They turn things back on me. I must be remembering wrong. (HA! Said in my best Chris Matthews voice. Fat chance of that! Mr. Spuds says I have the memory of an elephant. LOL!) It must be my fault somehow.
And for a while I believed that. I probably did remember wrong. I’m sure it was my fault somehow. Over the years I’ve learned that’s just not true. Q is lying. Plain and simple. Lying. There’s really no way to sugar coat it or call it something nicer. (Unless you consider “prevaricating” nicer. Grin!)
So I’ve learned my lesson with Q. I cannot depend on Q to keep their word. I have to trust that I’ll be able to come up with a good Plan B when they decide to change their mind and blame me for it. So if it involves money I’ve learned to either not count on it, or to set extra aside.
I’ve also learned over the years that forgiveness means letting go of what you think someone owes you. (An oversimplification, but it works for the purpose of this rambling.) Letting go of your right to seek retribution. Or vengeance. Or money. Or whatever. Just letting it go. It doesn’t mean what the other person did was okay, or right, or acceptable. It simply means you let go of needing to get something from them so you can devote that time, energy and emotion to more positive helpful things.
So I’ve forgiven Q. Q does not owe me anything. I’m not seeking anything from Q.
And at the same time I treat them differently. I act differently around them. I’m still me. I just don’t believe them. I have no confidence in what they tell me. I file it away as something that might happen, but just as easily might not. Based on past experiences I’ve learned to question most things they tell me. I take them all with a grain or eight of salt.
How can I have forgiven them if I feel this way? Based on past experiences I’d be foolish to blindly trust them. I feel like it’s not quite “real” forgiveness if I act differently. If I expect them to lie to me. If I don’t believe them. Q doesn’t owe me anything. I’m not after anything. I simply don’t trust them.
And part of me feels like that’s a reasonable response. That I’m protecting myself. And the other part of me feels selfish and judgmental—and not in a healthy way. I keep checking my motives in hesitating to believe Q. Is the problem with me? Have I not truly forgiven Q?
No answers here. Just questions.