I just read this moving article on forgiveness and the tears started almost instantly. (Please… I urge all to read it before finishing this post) When I was barely a teen, there was an incident that took away my innocence, and in turn, took away my power. For a really long time. Dare I say it has affected my entire life, even to this day.
Like the author here, I did not tell a soul. In fact, I only told Sir the whole thing two years ago. I never wanted sympathy. I never wanted people to say “oh, well that explains it”. I never wanted to be seen as weak or used, even though that’s exactly how I felt. For years. Decades. I kept quiet and I lived my life happily, but let me tell you, I never forgot and I sure as hell never forgave – mostly myself. I convinced myself I got exactly what I deserved… and the penance would be to pay, in big and small ways, forever. In the years immediately following, I made many bad choices in the name of taking my power back. Around the still very young age of 16/17, I got most of my shit together and stopped with those choices, but forgiveness never came, not for myself. I dropped the anger at the people involved. I said it is what it is. But I continued to blame myself. I continued to hold a grudge against myself. Forgiveness wasn’t something I deserved or could even begin to contemplate.
Some days, I still fall back to the whole ‘getting what I deserve’ thing. When things go sideways, when I am hurting… many times, my first thought is: well that thing happened so long ago and I made all those bad, ugly choices… of course I deserve the sadness that is happening now. I am tainted and unworthy. I still owe the universe. I am only getting what I deserve. Obviously, that’s not a very productive way to think. Typing it makes it seem quite irrational, but when the feelings hit, it feels like the ultimate truth.
I have this thing where dadgummit, I just want the offending party to see and to understand why I’m feeling how I’m feeling! When my feelings get hurt, I need them to really know. It is hard for me to realize that feelings are an extremely personal thing and sometimes no matter how many words are spoken, the other person just
will not cannot understand. Needing people to comprehend the why and the how – it makes life a little tough, a little isolated, even. It also makes it difficult to forgive anything or anyone.
That includes me – I do not forgive myself, either. Small, big, it doesn’t matter. I pile it on my shoulders because that’s what I deserve, that is what will show the universe that I know all of my mistakes. That’ll prove how sorry I am. That will be evidence enough that I’m not that girl that made all those bad choices.
It doesn’t work that way. It hasn’t worked. It is not working.
This article spoke to me in the biggest way. I love the part about not forgetting. I think forgetting what has been done, is impractical and really sort of stupid. One must remember the bad and the hurt in order to grow and to break the cycle of wrongs. I know we cannot live in the pain for long, we should not wallow eternally, but forgetting entirely seems like an invitation for history to repeat itself.
And I love that she says “I am forgiving you.” Instead of “you are forgiven” because it really is a process. Letting go and forgiving is an ongoing process. In my life, people have gotten so frustrated with me, asking “Why can’t you just forgive?!” I always attempted to explain that I was trying, but I wish I knew to say “I am forgiving you.” Now I know. Like love, forgiveness (and letting go) is an active thing.
What would happen if, just for today, you thought about the person who has hurt you most and said to yourself:
“I am forgiving you. By that I mean, I’m not going to blame you or hold you responsible for my life or my future any longer. The power to shape what is coming is mine now. I take it back for myself. I reclaim my power. And that grudge I’ve been carrying, well, it’s hurting me more than it’s hurting you, so for that reason, I’m going to set it down. I’ll see how it feels to walk around without it, a little lighter, a little freer. And I don’t have to make any promises about the future—except that I will try again tomorrow.”
Starting today, I am truly forgiving – myself and those that have hurt me. I am done feeling bad or flawed because my forgiveness is not instant. Letting go and forgiving are really hard things, and one day at a time is all I can offer. But I am willing and ready for the process to begin.
I know this post is a little heavy and, as always, rambling, but rest assured, my heart is light. My eyes have been opened the past few days… with articles, blogs, songs, near-wrecks… I suppose I’m just open and receptive, but the timing is amazing. I am learning, loving, apologizing, forgiving, appreciating, growing. If that isn’t what life’s about, I don’t know what is.
Happy Friday!! (I don’t have to get up at 5:40 tomorrow morning, so I am over the moon!)