I’ve been thinking a lot about forgiveness recently and what it means. What does it mean to forgive someone who has hurt you, and what does it mean to forgive yourself for ways in which you may have wronged others? What does it take to forgive someone and does it require an apology from the other party?
To get clear I needed to look up exactly what defines forgiveness and it is this:
*Forgive (verb): stop feeling angry or resentful toward (someone) for an offense, flaw, or mistake.
This definition actually surprised me, because for a long time I was assuming forgiveness meant that you actually have to like the person again or somehow be totally ok with what happened. It doesn’t magically make what happened all good again, but it does mean that you have let go of the resentment you were carrying. It’s not a thumbs up for hurtful behaviour. Forgiveness means you have truly healed and chosen to see that people are imperfect, people make mistakes, and people sometimes treat you poorly – yet it is not a reflection of you. That’s on them to figure out. But I am choosing to let it go.
I was surprised by the people I have come to forgive, and the people I haven’t. Some people may take much longer to forgive than others, due to the severity of the pain they caused. That is ok too. Forgiveness takes time, you can’t force it or rush it. Pretending everything is hunky-dory when it’s not and stuffing it down is also not forgiveness. Reflecting on people who have hurt me and feeling much more neutral towards them now is a very freeing feeling. Sometimes we may wish to rebuild relationships with those people, and sometimes those people are much better left in the distant rearview of our lives. The truth is you will probably never get an apology from many of the people who have hurt you. They may be too caught up in their own stuff or simply unable to recognize how their actions affected others. But this doesn’t mean you have to live stunted from these experiences forever.
My recent mantra to Myself:
It is not my fault for the shitty things that happened to me in the past. It is my responsibility to Myself to heal from it.