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Forgiveness Makes Relationship Possible
Written By: Mark Smith


Healing Toxic Shame Through Recovery
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Managing Abandonment  Issues Through Recovery
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We all mess up. We all have issues. We are complex beings with wounds that at times cause us to be unsafe. We all sometimes hurt the very ones that we love the most. If you have been deeply hurt by somebody and you are either harboring bitterness or worse, have walled yourself off from your pain, your self and cut yourself off from that
relationship then please read and consider the following little
parable that came to me.

Dante's parents were completely undependable. His father was a raging alcoholic and his mother had a new boyfriend every other week. Broken promises and lies were the only consistent characteristic of his childhood. He learned that he was THE only one that he could ever truly rely upon. He built thick walls to protect himself from the world's cruel betrayals.

Dante's first love ruined their relationship due to her addiction to prescription drugs. She was his father all over gain without the rage. His first wife ripped his heart out when he found her in bed with his best friend. He became very jaded…'sleep with them and then leave them' became his motto. He would never trust another woman again. At the first sign of a woman not being 100% reliable he cruelly dumped her without an explanation. He dumped one really hot cheerleader for being 15 minutes late for a date. There were no shades of gray with Dante when it came to being dependable.

Meredith worked with Dante and she had secretly been in love with him for years. She wasn't a knockout like all the women that Dante dated but Dante found her intriguing. There was something different about her. She had a depth and a caring that he had never seen before. When she asked him to dinner he gladly accepted. The relationship was going swimmingly for the first three months, but Dante's antenna was out…this was too good to be true.

Meredith grew up poor. Many times there was no food in the small town Kentucky shack. She went to Northwestern on a soccer scholarship and now for the first time in her life she had enough money to not have to worry about money. She did have a little issue though, as people are prone to have – she was a shopaholic. I don't mean that she bought shoes or clothes. She actually hoarded supplies like toothpaste, food, and printer cartridges, etc. Her basement was filled with supplies.
After an unexpected surgery her medical bills were killing her. She didn't tell anyone about her problem. She was ashamed.

One day as Meredith was getting ready for a date Dante just happened to look down at a credit card bill that was laying on Meredith's kitchen table. The balance on that card was over $8,000.00. He found another with a $12,000.00 balance and another with a $10,000.00 balance. Ok, here is the punch line – the woman was a shopping FREAK who would surely run him into bankruptcy if he married her. When Meredith came out of the bedroom she found that Dante had disappeared.
What had she done? She didn't have a clue.

Then Meredith showed up at Dante's apartment and she demanded an explanation for his abandonment. Dante simply wrote the figure $30,000.00 on a napkin that he handed her. Meredith was instantly mortified. Someone actually knew her horrible secret and now it was
going to cost her the love of her life. She tried to explain about
the surgery because that actually accounted for half of her debt. She told him what it was like growing up with no food, no wood for the stove, no toothpaste, etc. Her wounds didn't really concern him. As far as he was concerned they were merely excuses.

The thing about Meredith though was that she truly loved Dante. She was not going to be dismissed so easily. She enrolled in a credit counseling program, she cut her expenses and she took on a part time job. She asked Dante if he would consider dating her again if she would completely pay off her debt and clean up her credit. It took Meredith a year to achieve those goals.

After making love with each other for the first time in a year
Meredith had something that she needed to say to Dante. She touched his face tenderly as she spoke with firmness and a sweetness that Dante had never heard from her. She rubbed his stomach as she addressed little Dante, "I'm so sorry that your parents let you down, baby. You deserved loving and reliable parents. You were a special
boy and you needed a safe, consistent environment to trust in. But sweetie, your wounds are now getting in your way. We all have warts sweet boy. Nobody is perfect, not even you baby. While you know about my former financial imperfections I need to share a few more of my flaws. I was kicked out of college for smoking grass. I had an abortion when I was 21. Let me love you even though I am unreliable at times."

Dane now had enough dirt on Meredith to dismiss the entire Colts cheerleading squad. Meredith looked Dante right in the eyes and said, "Don't you know, it isn't being perfect or not ever messing up that makes a relationship safe, it is all in the forgiving and in the sincere efforts for growth that result in safety and in the rebuilding of trust." Just then Dante broke down and cried from deep in his soul. The cold hard walls that kept him from being hurt melted under the intensity of Meredith's kindness and acceptance. She said "being
flawed and ugly at times doesn't have to ruin a relationship…the grace to see, love, nurture and forgive a wounded partner is part of the really good stuff in a relationship. It pushes you; it makes you work on your own most vulnerable wounds."

For the first time in Dante's life he truly saw and understood a
woman. And he experienced a depth of forgiveness and grace that he had never imagined before. He felt like Mr. Scrooge on Christmas morning after he was haunted by his Christmas ghosts. Dante held Meredith close and he whispered "thank you very much, thank you very much, thank you very much, that's the nicest thing anyone's ever done for me". Dante learned to love Meredith warts and all. Dante's issues with unreliability had actually owned him. Meredith the gracious changed all of that. Thank God someone loved him with a deepand crazy love that would not take no for an answer. She loved him in
spite of all of his imperfections or perhaps even because of them. She willed herself into his hardened heart with a flinty determination that puzzled her friends. But then again, Dante was well worth it.

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This article was authored by Family Tree Counseling Associates, a marriage, individual and family counseling center serving the Indianapolis, Carmel, Fishers, Westfield and Noblesville communities in Indiana. If you would like to contact us, please fill out a contact us form or call us at 317-844-2442.
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