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This week Dr. Tsunami talked about Black Widow and the lessons of forgiveness and family that are interwoven throughout the movie. We focused on ways that you can improve your "forgiveness muscles" and model compassion and letting go to your child. Lastly, Dr. Tsunami mentioned the importance of asking for forgiveness and gave examples of how this was done in Black Widow.
0:45 The dinner scene
2:35 What is forgiveness?
4:48 It's never too late to apologize
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Now I hate to say that Yelena stole the show, especially after waiting so long for them to make Black Widow so we could learn more about Natasha, but she definitely stole the show.
There will be spoilers, so please grab some popcorn and go and watch the movie first.
Okay, you back? Let’s get started.
This week I wanted to talk about forgiveness. What is it and how do we do it?
The most riveting moment in this movie for me was when the four are sitting down at the dinner table at their “family” reunion. And start to talk over each other about their pain. And really they’re doing this to try and avoid the guilt they experienced when their covert mission together ended and they were all separated. Yelena’s line, that “don’t say that, don’t say that. It was real to me! … The best part of my life was fake, and none of you told me.” That just hits me right in the heart. Probably because of her role in the “family” of the youngest and the fact that she was being protected by everyone else, but in doing so, not telling her that it was pretend she ended up feeling betrayed.
All the guilt and the blame that the family feel towards each other stems from Yelena’s ability to forgive them or not. Can you imagine the amount of hurt and betrayal that Yelena felt as a 6-year-old girl being torn away from everything she’s ever known and forced into a life that she had no control over?
Now this family clearly has more baggage than most. Unless your family is a bunch of super spies, scientists, and assassins you’re only having to deal with the repercussions of intergenerational trauma, not chronic trauma that comes from living a double life. But the principles of forgiveness are the same regardless.
So first off, how do we define forgiveness? Forgiveness is for you and in extension, the other person. Forgiveness doesn’t mean forgetting. It means accepting that someone hurt you and choosing to let that hurt go. It means having mercy and showing compassion towards yourself and the other person. You have to consciously decide to stop holding on to anger and resentment in order to continue to live your life. It’s not easy and it takes time.
So how do you teach your children to forgive? The values that we have in ourselves we instill in our children. Put simply, you have to learn to forgive. If you can show forgiveness if you can go through that process yourself, then your children will learn to do it as well.
Forgiveness is not making excuses for the person that hurt you, or downplaying your pain or experience. I mean Melina taught the girls that: Pain makes you stronger, which is a common saying, but she meant it like expect to be in mental and physical anguish for most if not all your life. But Natasha was able to find meaning in her suffering. She felt that her painful experience could help her become a stronger person like how she saw Melina if she used her pain and past experiences to right the wrongs done to her and the other girls. It is in this value that Natasha felt she was able to cope and manage her past role in hurting others. She was able to heal because despite her terrible upbringing she had someone to look up to. And she did her best to right the wrongs that had been done to her.
Forgiveness starts with making a promise to yourself that you won’t bad mouth the person that hurt you, you practice acceptance of people who are different from you, and you practice small acts of kindness, mercy, and forgiveness each day. Small moments of forgiveness can build up your “forgiveness muscles” and make it easier to forgive the bigger hurts like physical and emotional abuse.
On the flip side this movie also teaches us that: It is never too late to apologize. Natasha was feeling guilt over killing Dreykov’s daughter, Antonia, which we later find out is alive and has been turned into Taskmaster. Antonia, once she is no longer under the control of the brainwashing drug, forgives Natasha immediately. She didn’t hold a grudge towards Natasha because she understood that Natasha was truly remorseful for her actions, and Antonia could empathize with Natasha. She too had to do things that she didn’t want to as Taskmaster. Antonia could have chosen to seek revenge on Natasha, but she chose forgiveness, and that speaks a lot more to the person that she was than her father’s less than epic parenting skills.
The thing about being a parent and asking forgiveness is that your child, by definition of being your child, is already primed to forgive you, as you are to forgive them. But as we have learned from this movie, family is not just the people we are born to, but the people that we invite into our lives. The stronger your initial connection to the person the easier it can be to forgive because, and not to sound too cheesy, but love is more powerful than resentment. Being able to forgive someone means knowing what it is that you are forgiving them for. What was that hurt like for you, and how did it impact you?
Lastly, you have to forgive yourself, and for most people, forgiving yourself is way harder than forgiving someone else. Forgiving yourself requires you to recognize that you are an imperfect human being, just like everyone else. Natasha struggles with this throughout the entire Marvel series. It is part of what makes her character so dynamic, but in real life, experiencing this daily inner turmoil leads to stress, depression, unhealthy anger, anxiety, headaches, stomachaches, back pain. It’s a lot, and it doesn’t serve you. Being mad at yourself just holds you back from being better.
I don’t know who needs to hear this, but no matter what you’ve done, you deserve to forgive yourself.
That’s it for this week, until next time.
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