A Letter to Neale: Forgiveness ‘forgone’

Reader question:

Dear Neale..Dear Neale...Some history first and then my question. I was raised catholic in a very loving, but dysfunctional family. My father was an alcoholic, having served in many wars, that is how he dealt with it. There was a lot of screaming and turmoil in my life from it, even though; I was very close to both my parents, who have both passed now. My siblings and I are quite spread out in age, I being the youngest and experienced the most dysfunction. Three of us siblings are very liberal and one very catholic.

My siblings know of my beliefs in the CWG material and I have shared the core concepts with them. My husband of 28 years was also raised catholic and also believes in the CWG material. The catholic one has always had comments throughout my life that were very hurtful. I should have done, or be doing, this or that differently. So all my life I have buried my feelings and just taken it.

Before Christmas this year I let it all out, in detail, and decided, at 50, I am not going to take it anymore. This was to the surprise of my siblings, but now things I have done now make sense to them. He barely remembers anything that he did or how things actually happened in my family, even though my siblings have backed me up on almost everything that has happened.

He realizes and has admitted to me that he has been mentally abusive to me even though he doesn’t remember it the way we do. We worked it out and came to peace. At Easter he did it again I was backed up by one of my siblings that I was right about what happened.

I don’t know which part of the CWG material I need to focus on with regards to this. I have all your books and have been rereading and creating my own books from them. I have forgiven him and I love him, but still, I am not going to take it anymore. I want to let it go and thought I had, until Easter. My father died on Good Friday many years ago, so Easter is almost ignored in my family now.

Help please, and sorry this was so long. Love, Anne

Neale Responds:

Dear Anne...Please read the chapter on Forgiveness Forgone in my book, The Only Thing That Matters. It addresses itself directly to your question and your situation.

You do not need to forgive your brother, nor do you need to avoid him. This is not how God acts with us. God neither forgives us, nor avoids us. God simply understands us, the way you would understand a two-year-old child.

If a two-year-old child knocked over his milk and spilled it all over the table, you would not need to "forgive" him. Forgiveness is not even part of the equation. You simply understand what happened there, and that it happened out of the child's lack of maturity and physical coordination. You even comfort the child, telling him "there's no use crying over spilled milk."

All it takes for you to move past it when your brother "spills the milk" is to understand that he is emotionally uncoordinated. Somewhere deep inside of your brother there is a two-year-old who is hurt, who must have felt "made wrong" over and over again as a child, and who does not know how to deal with that, and so he has compensated by making himself "right" every chance he thinks he gets.

It is really quite simple. It is Compensatory Behavior.

"Yet because my brother's behavior is understandable does not mean I have to 'take it,' does it?" you might ask. And the answer is, no. You can ignore it. Yes, you can ignore a person's particular behaviors without having to ignore that person altogether.

If you love your brother (and by the way, you are not required to), the next time he releases one of his salvos, making you wrong or criticizing you for something, simply say, "Thank you. I know that you love me, or you wouldn't keep correcting me and criticizing me this way. I know that you learned to correct and criticize people as an act of love from people who said they loved you --- so to you this seems like perfectly acceptable behavior. What is done to us, we do to others. It's really quite simple. I don't agree with you on what you've said just now, but you know what? That's okay with me. And I hope you can make it okay with YOU. You and I don't have to agree on everything. Yet we both agree on this, I am sure. In all moments when humans disagree, love is the answer. I love you, bro. Shall we move on?"

I would actually MEMORIZE this little speech, and write out a few others much like it. Then I would quietly and lovingly deliver one of them when your brother delivers his salvos. It will take about three or four times hearing this kind of response from you before he stops correcting you and starts correcting himself.

Please read about FORGIVENESS FOREGONE, one of the five Tools of the Soul explored and explained in The Only Thing That Matters. If, after reading this, you still have a question, return here again and bring it to me.

I send you my wish that you may experience God's presence in you and working through you all the days of your life.



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