Someone asked me my thoughts on forgiveness. Ironic because I’ve been told that I hold on to grudges forever (which isn’t true, I don’t have grudges. I have a good memory).
The person specified that they wanted me to talk about forgiving others but I don’t think the concept of forgiveness can exist without being able to forgive yourself as well. So here comes Ida’s * ~ life lesson ~ * on forgiveness.
The difficult thing about forgiveness is that you have to do it every day. You can’t just decide that you’re going to forgive something and that’s that. No take backs. If something is truly forgiven, you’re able to put it to rest.
Imagine how you’d feel if you thought that something had been forgiven but at every future argument the matter would be pop back on the surface like a turd that doesn’t flush. No matter how much you’ve been wronged, that sort of behaviour is manipulative, emotionally abusive and all in all not OK.
Forgiveness is not just saying the words. When forgiving something you truly have to be committed to the decision you’re making. You’re accepting this person’s apology. Therefore you’re also committing to the decision to accept it. Otherwise it makes forgiving a meaningless, empty act.
But what if you’re just so deeply hurt by this person’s actions that committing to an apology is too much to bear even thinking about?
Easy. Don’t forgive them.
Maybe this wasn’t what was expected from a post about forgiveness, but there is no rule on this planet that forces you to accept a person’s apology or to committing to forgiving them in its absence. Nobody forces you to forgive anything.
That still doesn’t mean you have to hate them.
You might not know this about me but I’m quite a spiritual person, which isn’t to be confused with religious. I don’t want to hold any hatred in my heart since at the end of the day I’m going to be the only person hurt by it. I’ve had things happen to me which can only be described as unforgivable. I hold no plans of ever forgiving the persons responsible, but I’ve given up on actively hating them.
When you’ve been victimised, someone has trampled all over your boundaries and rights as a human being. Your right to choose whether or not to forgive is about claiming them back. At times people come into the limelight saying that they are forgiving someone, for example a perpetrator of a crime.
Admirable? Yes. This however is a personal choice. I don’t think everything has to be forgiven because there are things that are truly unforgivable. Still, you shouldn’t further burden yourself by clinging on to feelings of hurt or bitterness. It’s perfectly OK and understandable to feel them but it’s also OK to let go.
Forgiveness is an act of independence but it’s not jury duty. This is why I don’t think apologies should be offered in certain cases, for example when you know that the words come out of courtesy, societal expectation or a habit. This makes me think that I’m forced to accept the apology and that’s that. That the person making the apology isn’t truly sorry.
That’s not the case, I don’t have to accept.
Instead, what I think is important is to go through the emotions caused by the situation, for example with help of a professional if need be. In my case, counselling has been beyond helpful. When you’ve been able to process what happened and all the emotions that came with it, you’re hopefully able to move on with your life. What’s happened will never be undone but you can process the events in a way that they won’t be as hurtful to think about.
If you’re going to forgive anyone, forgive yourself. Forgive yourself all the emotions the events awoke in you, how you reacted and forgive yourself for not forgiving. At the end of the day you need to be able to live with just one person, and that’s yourself.