This is my third or fourth attempt at writing this post. Why is it so hard? Because it’s so personal, but so important for me to share.
As you may have gleaned from the title, this post is about forgiveness.
Forgiveness. There are way too many nuances and too much range of emotion for that one word to cover. It needs some adjectives to cover the layers of that word.
I spent 16 months trying to forgive someone I didn’t even care about. We had a work relationship. They were an acquaintance, never a friend, never will be. But I wasted so much time in those 16 months trying to forgive them without really understanding what that meant.
Sure, I read that forgiveness wasn’t for the person who needed forgiving, it was about letting go of that pain for yourself, so you could move on with your life in relative peace. And that made sense in print, but I was stuck. How do you do that? How do you let go???
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Firstly, you have to want to let go. Some days you want to let go more than others. In the beginning, I didn’t want to let it go because instead I wanted vengeance. That was probably the meanest and most unlike me I’ve ever felt. For real, I wanted to destroy this person. But then I decided I needed to let it go for my own sanity. Easier said than done.
Secondly, you have to give it time. Which is one of the more stupid aspects of living.
Me: Hey Life, I would like to stop feeling anger towards this person.
Life: Sure, Heather, that sounds great! But first, you need to feel 16 more months of anger for no apparent reason, okay?
Life: K, thanks, byeeeeee!
It’s utter garbage.
But yeah, those are the two steps to forgiveness as far as I can tell. At least, towards a person you have no relationship with. I don’t think I have it in me to talk about forgiving someone you actually care about today…
“But how will know when I’ve finally forgiven and moved on?”
Oh, you’ll know.
I was lucky enough to have a moment of closure that led to my forgiveness. Nothing had really changed, the person in question has done literally nothing to earn my forgiveness, but – like I said – it’s not about them, it’s about you.
My moment of closure: congratulating the person on a job well done and not feeling like I wanted to vomit in disgust as those well-wishes came out of my mouth. And then, lying in my bed that night, I exhaled and felt all this weight float away, and it was like I could really breathe again. In that moment, I knew I had finally forgiven. And I was the reason it finally happened.
So why am I sharing this super vague story? Because I want to assure people that forgiveness is a real thing, that it’s hard to do even if you want it so badly that it hurts, and that it’s worth it to try to forgive, no matter how long it takes, no matter how undeserving the person in question. By the way, I’m definitely part of the ‘forgive, but never forget’ camp. No way am I forgetting this trauma – it’s shaped me, changed me, made me grow, and will protect me in the future.
Good luck on your journey to forgiveness. It’s going to suck, but you’ll get there eventually.