Forgiving someone who has hurt you, harmed you or devastated your life isn’t a requirement. What will determine your strength – making sure you stop them from controlling your life, tending to your soul and healing what has been broken.
Years ago a guy broke my heart. I can remember the break up scene clearly. I was blindsided and hurt, sad and devastated. It had felt like I had been gut punched out of the blue. In hindsight, he did me a huge favor, but at the time it was like my world was coming to a screeching halt. I was furious. Well, I thought I was furious throughout the entire conversation but when he uttered the phrase; "Will you forgive me?" I hit a whole new level of woman scorned, which I refer to as "beast mode."
Forgive him? Not a chance in hell. I had trusted him and he broke that trust. I declared him dead in my eyes and stormed off.
For the next few weeks I spent some time alone and putting the broken pieces back together, I was humiliated and sad. Eventually, I healed up, made peace with the whole thing and got back to living my life and, much to my surprise, somewhere in the entire process of making peace inside my soul - I got over being mad at him. I just let it go. It didn't have a purpose and holding on to it did my heart no good. He didn't deserve space in my head or my world, so I just left him in my past and cast my eyes to my future.
But, had I forgiven him? No, what I did was forget him and not give him any power over my world. He hurt me, he didn't deserve forgiveness. However, I did forgive myself for falling for him and believing in him. I deserved the forgiveness, he didn't. I took the lesson and let the rest go.
Simple as that. Right?
Well no, apparently not. I have learned over the years - forgiveness is anything but simple.
It is incredibly powerful and ferociously complicated.
It is necessary and unnecessary at the same time - a conundrum of epic proportions.
To forgive or not to forgive - that is the question.
Now, I have read all the same quotes as you have about forgiveness. "Forgive them even if they're not sorry." "Life becomes easier when you learn to accept the apology you never got." "Forgiveness is the best form of love. It takes a strong person to say sorry and an even stronger person to forgive." Or my personal favorite (please note dripping sarcasm) "Forgive others, not because they deserve forgiveness, but because you deserve peace."
I'm not buying it.
Over the years I have had people who I loved deeply, people who I should have been able to trust completely without fear, hurt me in ways I never thought possible. I'm not talking about forgetting my birthday hurt or words said in the heat of the moment hurt, I mean deep soul shattering hurt. The kind of hurt you don't bounce back from immediately. Some of it so cruel I thought I would break from the power of it. It all seemed to culminate 2011 when my mother took her own life and I was left with a million scattered pieces of the life I had, raging emotions and absolutely no idea where to start.
I spent the first few months after her death angry. So angry. My anger was what kept my head above the emotional waters that threatened to drown me. But keeping up that level of negative was doing too much damage so I had to face it head on. All of it. Every hurt, every abandonment, every tear I never cried. So, I began my journey at the very beginning and worked my way through all of it to the other side. Took a while. Longer than I would have expected.
I learned the power of forgiveness doesn’t have a damn thing to do with those generic quotes above. Some people do not deserve forgiveness. Some do. It is completely your choice who you give that gift to and who you do not.
Hurt people are always being told that in order to be at peace or feel happiness - they must forgive. The truth of the matter: You do not have to forgive anyone who has harmed you. You don't and it most definitely does NOT make you a bad, weak or nonspiritual person, promise.
I must forgive someone to prove my strength? To make me happy? I call bullshit.
If I choose to forgive someone, then that person probably still has a space reserved for them in my life or I have made the decision to see past what happened and make peace with them for the sake of my own soul and only because it felt right within. There are many with whom I have accepted what was done, took responsibility for my own healing and moved on from whatever it was they had done. Forgiveness never entered the picture. They didn't deserve it. I would have felt like a fool uttering the words; "You hurt my soul, you forced me into a place I never wanted to be in but because I don't want to be seen as "weak" - I forgive you."
You know who deserves your forgiveness? You, do. Because I know, more often than not, even as we know it isn't our fault - we place some blame on ourselves. Blame for allowing it, blame for not being stronger, smarter or better. Blame for not extracting ourselves sooner or seeing it for what it was. We don't want the blame, we don't deserve it. It wasn't our fault. Yet, we internalize it. We chastise ourselves for being weak because we just can't find forgiveness and everyone tells us we have to in order to be in a better place. How is this helpful?
Know what is helpful? Starting your healing work. Putting the pieces of your life back together. Becoming stronger. Less tapped into the pain of what happened and more tapped into what you need to become better, stronger from it. Confronting your demons. Finding your fight. Honoring your pain and giving it room to breathe. Fully embracing the fact you can't change what happened but you can eventually let it go. This is your only responsibility - letting go of all the baggage, all the hurt and healing the damage.. You weren't responsible for what happened, but you sure as hell are responsible for putting the shattered pieces back together and moving on from it.
Forgiving them isn't a requirement.
Unless, it feels right in your gut. Unless your healing feels as if it hinges on forgiving them - then by all means, honor that. I did eventually with my mom. Once I released the anger and broke everything down to manageable pieces -I began to notice that at some point throughout the journey of self-discovery, healing and rebuilding my life - forgiveness somehow just happened. Yet, it wasn't something I could have consciously come to without doing the inside soul work first but once I felt it inside my gut - it just felt right. So, I allowed it to flow.
However, there are a few I will never forgive. They do not deserve it. I would feel like I was selling myself out to say that I forgave them. Because I don’t. Don’t get me wrong – I am not holding on to anger concerning them. I’ve made peace inside with what they have done. I am strong for the way I handled their actions. I am not looking for an apology because there are no words that could make right the devastating harm they caused. It’s over and I appreciate that. I am not looking for revenge having long ago decided to let karma sort them out.
But forgive them? No, I won’t. I don’t have to.
Forgiving someone who has hurt you, harmed you or devastated your life isn’t a requirement. What will determine your strength – making sure you stop them from controlling your life, tending to your soul and healing what has been broken. Facing the demons they left behind. That makes you strong. Forget revenge. Forget getting even. Focus instead on loving yourself better. That is what’s powerful. That is the game changer in life.
Trust me, you will have an innate knowledge of who deserves your forgiveness. Stop beating yourself up over the ones you can never forgive. You don’t have to.
Personal choice is personal power. Embrace it.
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