Does the idea of forgiveness leave a bitter taste in your mouth? Mine too. The accountant in wants to reconcile the past while the stress eater in me needs to binge. Here’s how my accounting background and a healthy bean dip helped me tackle forgiveness without eating my weight in chocolate.

Back in the day, before I became a co-dependent mom, I was a co-dependent accountant. I just didn’t realize it. Our hospital accounting department was strategically tucked away in a forgotten corner of the basement. The walls, file cabinets, and floor-to-ceiling cubicles were putty gray. My coworkers were quiet and needed to be rescued from tired stereotypes. I was just the person to save them. So I thought.

I brought fun to the office, one birthday card at a time. I planned pot-lucks, retirement dinners, and white elephant gift exchanges. And how did they repay me? By forgetting my birthday! Because I insisted on solving problems they didn’t think they had, my investment in birthday cards and their happiness didn’t yield the return I expected. 

Balance Sheet Basics

Fortunately, my days as an accountant weren’t a total loss. I can apply the concepts I used in preparing balance sheets to the business of forgiving others. Plus, I got an amazing recipe for Bean Counters’ Bean Dip from my co-worker Stephanie.

Assets

Assets are tangible things you have, usually cash, a car, or a house. Unhealthy habits like addictions or my co-dependency almost always cause a significant reduction in assets. In the last ten years, my obsessive need to help others has cost me:

  • Over $80,000 in cold hard cash
  • My dignity, peace and happiness
  • Precious time with my husband and son
  • My health
  • Numerous carefree holiday dinners

Liabilities

The Lord’s Prayer relates forgiveness to money, “…forgive us our debts (or transgressions) as we’ve forgiven our debtors.” For years, I operated out of obligation or debt to family and friends, and I didn’t have any time, money, or energy left to continue caring for anyone. Because I was out of emotional assets, I had a death grip on what I had left – liabilities like resentment, fear, and anger. Forgiveness felt like writing a blank check to my offenders so they could repeat the abuse.

The Cost Of Forgiveness

No matter the trauma – child abuse, rape, incest, lies, manipulation, extreme violence, or (fill in the blank with your past demons), well-meaning friends and family often say the cure is to forgive. As if it’s that simple or that forgiveness never occurred to me. I refuse to forgive just because:

  1. It’s “the right thing to do.”
  2. I should.
  3. My preacher, teacher, Mom or Dad told me to.
  4. Oprah said to.
  5. My offender didn’t mean to, was sick, or wasn’t in her right mind…
  6. The Bible says to.
  7. I said some things, then he said some things, then things got out of hand.
  8. She was also abused as a child.
  9. He didn’t know any better.
  10. It only happened one time, and he promised it will never happen again.

Self-Worth

The fundamental accounting equation is: Assets – Liabilities = Net Worth or Owner’s Equity. People pleasing, familial addictions, and co-dependency cost me almost everything. Before I can be in a position to forgive emotional debts, I have to replenish my self-worth. Forgiveness isn’t easy; it isn’t simple; and it isn’t about them.

Forgiveness offers freedom from a haunting past, and that freedom yields happiness and serenity. Calculating the cost of past hurts is only part of the forgiveness process. I couldn’t forgive on my own. Next, I needed help and healing from a power greater than myself.

The Bean Counter’s Bean Dip

Ingredients:

  • 1 16 oz. can of Refried Beans
  • 8 oz. sour cream
  • 1 packet of dry Ranch dip
  • 1 cup of salsa
  • 3/4 cup of shredded cheese
  • 1 cup shredded lettuce
  • 2 green onions chopped
  • 1 bag of tortilla chips

This delicious layered dip is best served the day it’s made, so it’s perfect for an office potluck. Your choice of salsa and cheese lets you put your signature stamp on the dish. I prefer mango salsa and pepper jack cheese.

Open the can of refried beans and spread it evenly across a large dinner plate. Next, stir half of the packet of ranch dip into the sour cream. Spread the ranch flavored sour cream on top of the layer of beans. Cover the ranched sour cream with salsa, then sprinkle on the shredded cheese. Top with lettuce and green onions. Serve with tortilla chips.

 


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Recovering from co-dependency and family trauma is possible. Find therapists and support groups near you at Recovery Guidance.


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Pam Carver

Pam is the author of two books: Co-dependent In The Kitchen, and Find Your True Colors In 12 Steps. She's also a contributing editor for Reach Out Recovery. She's a recovery advocate who likes long walks on the beach and chocolate.

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