How I Learnt To Forgive
In my Full Moon tarot reading for October - November, I briefly touched on my view of forgiveness.
I mentioned I see forgiveness as choosing to release and let go; for me, it's about refusing to be bound by bitterness, anger, and hatred. Today, I wanted to share a bit about how I got to that point, and why I think forgiveness is so important.
A While ago I had something happen that changed how I saw forgiveness and why I forgave people. Until The Thing happened, I thought forgiving someone meant the relationship with the person who wronged you needed to be the same again; it was as if nothing had ever happened. Forgive and forget, and kiss and make up after all, right?
When The Thing happened, I was hurt and confused; I just stood there because I couldn't believe what had happened. For a while thinking back on the situation would bring up feelings of sadness, anger, and an incredible hatred towards the person who had wronged me.
At some point, it was if a light had been turned on, I wasn’t going to allow this person to have any control over me; I wasn’t going to let their negativity affect me, and I certainly wasn’t going to let this situation define me. I suddenly realised I needed to forgive this person, but how, and more importantly WHY?
Forgiveness was for my own happiness. Holding on to the pain, hurt and anger would have done far more harm to me than it would have the other person; it's about letting go of the negativity that results from being hurt and letting go of the emotional baggage that comes along with it.
Forgiveness allows me to live in the present. The thing was something that could have defined me if I had allowed it, but honestly, I don't really think of it that often anymore.
Forgiveness is incredibly freeing. it allowed me to move on without contempt, anger or the need to revenge (not going to lie, in the beginning I wanted a time machine, so I could go back and knock them the fuck out).
Forgiving someone does not mean I condone what has happened. Choosing to forgive someone and moving on does not make what happened okay.
Forgiving does not mean having to forget. Choosing to move on from something painful and forgetting about it are completely different things.
Forgiveness does not mean having to trust or rebuild a relationship with the other person. There are times when relationships can’t be rebuilt, and there’s no way to go back to what they were. and that’s okay.
Forgiveness does not need to be face to face. Hell, i don’t think the other person needs to know they’ve been forgiven; I wrote a letter that I never gave them. Choosing to forgive was for me alone.
How I forgave
I journaled. I wrote about what happened and how I felt
I talked about it. I talked about it with the people closest to me, and in therapy
I allowed myself lean into my feelings and process my emotions - I cried, I yelled, I swore; I was angry, it's a valid emotion, I just didn't want to continue to feel that way.
I wrote a letter to the person I was forgiving. I never actually gave them the letter; it outlined how the situation had made me feel, and why I was choosing to forgive.
I put myself in the other person's shoes. Doing this gave me some insight into the situation, and I could see how, and why The Thing had happened. When i did this, I felt a sense of pity, like ‘you poor fucking thing’. Empathising with this person didn't make what they did okay, but I could understand why it happened.
Maintaining a relationship with someone you forgive
I don’t really talk person who changed my view on forgiveness anymore, but there have been situations since where I have forgiven people who I do maintain relationships with, here’s how I have done that:
working out my feelings and emotions before talking to the other person about. I can say some pretty horrible shit when I’m angry; I have learned that you can never take backs something said in anger.
Taking using *I statements. You know the kind of statements I’m talking about ‘I feel hurt/angry/betrayed/whatever; I try do this without blame, event though sometimes it’s so easy to say something like “I feel angry because you’re a dick”.
Setting new boundaries.
Leaving it in the past.