A wise woman once told me that forgiveness is acceptance that the past cannot be different. When we forgive, we have to accept. And that’s where we all tend to get tangled up.
I am certainly not a champion for forgiveness. I’ve fought against most of my life. It just wasn’t something I could entertain. How could certain people deserve forgiveness?
So I heard a lot from others about how forgiveness is something you have to do for yourself, not the person. That if you don’t forgive then you are subject to hate in your heart, and that hate will just weigh you down. Maybe. But for me, not forgiving you doesn’t mean I hate you. And it also doesn’t mean I’m still hoping things will be different.
So how do we forgive? How do we move forward? We can all attempt forgiveness. I’ve said it out loud on numerous occasions. I’ve reconciled that the past isn’t going to be erased. But in the end, it’s not 100%. Forgiveness doesn’t clean the slate. It doesn’t give anyone a free pass to hurt you again. That’s maybe why they say forgive but don’t forget.
There’s no innocence with forgiveness. It doesn’t rectify the hurt. Ultimately, forgiveness may mean something different to each person who has the capacity to forgive. When I have forgiven, it helped me stopped playing the past over and over – waiting for a different ending. It stopped the blame. It’s way too easy to blame yourself for everything, especially when you are a kid. As children, we aren’t sophisticated enough to understand we are not the cause. When something traumatic happens, a child can’t comprehend the way an adult can. It’s either blame the adult or blame yourself. Children blame themselves. To blame the adult would seem unfathomable for many kids. Because we usually love and trust the adult. This creates an internal struggle and a rejection of self-love. We don’t learn to love ourselves. We learn to blame.
I’ve blamed myself for much of what has happened to me. It’s a vicious cycle, often hard to correct. I’m better than I was, but the question is, have I forgiven myself? And this may be the hardest part of forgiveness. I’ve come to realize that forgiveness for myself is the first step. Everyone else had to wait.
Self-awareness can empower you to forgive. It can help you see the logical side of any internal argument. I’m still my biggest enemy in many ways. To forgive myself, I have had to accept my actions and choices; some of which were really bad. I can’t change the past. I can only hope that I honestly believe now that it cannot be different.
I’ve forgiven exes. Most of which didn’t ask for it. I once wrote a long email to a man I had loved. I had ended the relationship well over a year before. It took that long to heal. It took that long to forgive. I think he needed my forgiveness. It wasn’t easy to give. When someone hurts you, someone that you love, it can be hard to come out the other side. I did, although with some wounds that may never completely heal.
I’ve forgiven friends who have hurt me, knowing that we all make mistakes. I’ve forgiven my mom for not being perfect. I’ve forgiven my former bosses for treating me terribly. And yes, I have forgiven myself a million times. I’m sure I will a million more times.
But I haven’t completed my forgiveness journey. I still find it not within my current grasp to forgive one person. This person let me down my entire life, never there when it mattered. This person isn’t in my life anymore and hasn’t been for some time. No matter how much I want to forgive, there is something that stops me from being able to completely. There’s never going to be any resolution; I know that. Nothing will change the past. And I don’t have to ever give this person another chance to hurt me.
For now, the forgiveness is still a work in progress, as am I. Eventually, I think I’ll be at 100%. Forgiveness is not something this person ever asked for, and at times, I think it’s something undeserved. I’ll let go of it all one day. I’ll be brave enough to forgive.
When people hurt us, it’s hard to recover. It’s hard to stand back up and pick all the little shivers of pain out of your palms. When we are hurt, it changes us. Forgiveness doesn’t change us back. It simply helps us from wishing every day for a new ending. History cannot be rewritten. I will keep trying every day to forgive a little more.