Can you have one without the other? That is, moving forward without forgiveness?
For me moving forward is a combination of knowing where you stand, accepting a person for who they are, and establishing boundaries “from this day forward” so to speak; never again being caught off guard or expecting someone to behave in a manner other than their true character. But does forgiveness mean you’re supposed to welcome the person back into your life as if nothing ever happened? Wipe the slate clean for instance? And if you’re not able to do this, does that mean you haven’t actually forgiven the person?
What does it mean if you simply don’t desire a close relationship with your MIL after years of a tumultuous dynamic at best? Does that make you a horrible person incapable of forgiveness? Should you just take on an “it’s water under the bridge” attitude and be open to becoming “BFFs”? I know of many daughter-in-laws that struggle with this, and begin questioning their ability to forgive. I especially do when my mother-in-law wants to have small talk, for example, like we’re old girlfriends. It’s honestly uncomfortable for me because I don’t want to let her in; which means not having much to say.
It makes me wonder, it is ever just too late to foster the type of relationship that should have been established and nurtured from the start? And moreover, “Can you ever just start over?” My MIL asked for us to “start over” after she gave a seemingly sincere apology for her absolute horrible behavior at my son’s 1st birthday party. I immediately thought to myself, that’s not how it works. You can’t just start over. You can never undo actions and/or things you’ve said after you’ve had an “epiphany.” And sometimes the wombs are so severe, the scars never truly heal, but rather become just visual reminders of never wanting to forget or let your guard down. So the only option is to move forward armed with the history you have.
Sometimes I feel like I’m stuck in this unfamiliar stage of forgiveness and can’t get out. I often think about whether my feelings will ever change, or if this is just a stage of forgiveness and simply part of accepting where I stand and the established relationship as is.