I’ve spent a long time being angry at my mother-in-law now.
It’s not without reason.
I mean, let’s be perfectly clear– when we lost our fourth baby, she told us we were better off.
I feel confident saying that that was a terrible choice of words. It didn’t help matters that she never really apologized. And, furthermore, seeing how much it hurt my husband and drove him away from her, I felt rather justified in my bitter feelings toward her.
It’s been almost three years now.
Over these years, I’ve tried so hard to open my heart to forgive her. I’ve tried to rationalize her words and actions and make sense of them somehow. I’ve tried to “explain” them to myself in a way that would somehow make it acceptable and okay. And I was utterly unsuccessful.
But this, I think, is the problem. Too often, we think that, in order to forgive, we need to accept and come to terms with the other person’s actions. I honestly think this stems from our conditioned response to say, “It’s okay” immediately following the words, “I’m sorry.”
But what if it’s NOT okay? What if those words would be utterly false?
Well, then, we shouldn’t say them. If my mother-in-law were to, miraculously, offer up an apology one of these days, it would be disingenuous for me to say, “It’s okay.” Frankly, it’s not. I don’t actually think it’s ever okay to give that response to the loss of a precious child.
But, slowly, slowly, I’m starting to realize that I don’t need to wait for my heart to feel “okay” about it. Forgiving is a conscious action– it is a decision to cease being angry and resentful toward another for an error or offense. It is not a realization that you’re “over it.” It doesn’t need to be a warm, affectionate, glowing feeling. Sometimes it’s just saying, “You know what? I’ve spent enough time feeling angry and bitter about this and it hasn’t changed anything. I’m ready to put those feelings aside, so I can move forward.”
It’s too exhausting to stay mad about it, to be honest. I’m hurt. I’ve been hurt for years now. I truly can’t believe that she said that to her son. I can’t wrap my brain around what would make a mother utter that sentiment about her lost grandbaby.
But the good news is that I don’t need to. It’s not my job to figure out her motivation. It’s also not my job to decide it’s okay.
It’s my job to take care of myself and part of that includes releasing these emotions that bring me down and hurt my heart.
I forgive her.
But it’s not okay.