In order to bestow forgiveness, a person has to have some very particular underlying beliefs and ideas in the first place. As I don’t, and therefore can’t, I thought it might be interesting to pick through the mechanics a bit.
It has come to my attention in the last few months that to be able to forgive, you have to feel that something else should have happened. You have to believe that the other person shares your sense of what should have happened, and that they would have preferred to get it right and do the thing that would have fitted with that. From that place, (as far as I can make out) you forgive the shortcoming, the mistake, and everyone moves on.
I automatically differentiate between things I need and want, and the actual shape of my interactions with people. Entitlement doesn’t feature much, for a whole array of historical reasons. Consequently, if something goes wrong I tend not to see this as an accidental departure from the real relationship, but as a reflection of it. I make sense of my interactions with people based not on what I think should happen, but on what happens. It means that forgetting, letting me down, being less than fair or kind to me is likely to just be quietly recognised as how things are between us. It is absolutely not a coincidence that I tend to be wary, distant and closed with most people.
My suspicion is that if you carry an ideal about, then however wonky the reality is, you’ll probably do a better job of holding positive and open sorts of connections with other people. Failure to live up to expectation might seem more temporary, more transient from that perspective, and be easier both to point out and to then let go of. What point is there in making a fuss about how someone treats you, if you start with the belief that how they treat you is an expression of how they feel about you? Ask them to do differently and you’re asking them (from that way of looking at things)to be dishonest with you.
I don’t think I fall into the trap of expecting people to know what I want and need. It’s very easy to go round getting cross with people when you think they should know your foibles, weaknesses and whatnot. It’s more about things that could be applied to anyone. Are they kind to me? Do they keep promises? Do they ask more of me than I can give and respond badly when I can’t keep up? Do they only seem to value me in so far as I am useful to them? Are they patient when I struggle? When I am in pain, are they gentle with me, or is that just another inconvenience to get cross about?
It says something about my history that for me, kindness is not a reasonable expectation, nor do I feel entitled to expect people will be careful round me around distress, pain, exhaustion and other limits. I’m used to being asked for more than I am equal to by people for whom I mostly seem to be a resource. Observation suggests that people who feel entitlement do not tend to accept that sort of thing and are much better at holding their boundaries, but for long periods of time my sense of place seemed wholly dependent on utility, and it’s hard to break with that.
To forgive you, I would have to start from a place of thinking that I deserved something better. I find it hard to imagine I deserve other than I get. It seems to me a fair measure of how people around me and groups I interact with relate to me. It seems like a measure of who I am. People who offer to forgive may be in a better place than people who don’t, on the whole.