For stubborn people, forgiveness can be next to impossible. If you asked anyone in my life, stubborn might be one of the first words to describe me. Thank you Mom for passing that on to me. Recently, I have learned that forgiving is not a sign of weakness and doesn’t justify that persons actions. Instead, it takes so much strength and gives you freedom in return.
Forgiving someone isn’t something I have had to do often, as I am not one to end up in confrontational situations. I will apologise to end something before it begins. So when I ended up in a situation where I wasn’t in control, I ended up getting hurt by someone close to me, more than I have ever been hurt before. That situation forced me to address things about myself and my life experiences that I haven’t had to before. I had never been truly let down by someone to that degree, not once, but time after time. It was a new and horrible experience and was my first real experience with heartbreak.
With each disappointment, my trust became exponentially fragmented. Trust is not something I gift to people easily, which is why forgiving my trust being broken so badly made it that much harder. If I had never really been hurt, how am I able to forgive? The first piece of advice I got was from my mom. She asked me what my gut was telling me. It is a difficult piece of advice to receive, as you have to be truly honest with yourself. Listening to my gut is something I still struggle with. My gut was telling me that actions do not always define a person and to give the situation time, but considering how many times the same mistake was made, my gut was very conflicted as I would be forgiving so many wrongs done to me.
After that, I had to ask myself if that person was truly sorry and would change. Are the mistakes that were made actually in the past? And if they are, do they still deserve to be in my life? I believed they were in the past, but in the case where the same mistake was made so many times, how can you be completely sure? Each time I thought I was getting close to forgive them, I was slammed with another disappointment. That reinforced how you can never be certain someone won’t do it again, but that is where your gut comes in again. I had to really put myself in their shoes and admit mistakes that I had made as well and it wasn’t a one way street. Doing so made me more accepting of what had occurred, but do not mistake it for justification. It no way diminishes the harm that it had caused or justify the actions in any way, shape, or form.
Once I had gotten to that point of understanding, what I continued to struggle with was if they should still be in my life. Is the pain worth it? Sometimes I think it is and others I don’t. Some days it takes all of my self control to not revert to over analysing the past, but with time, it has been getting easier. After a particularly bad day, I had a friend tell me that I had to make a decision to make: Either I had to forgive and bury the past or move on. It was something I already knew, but hearing it from someone else cause it to sink in, and with that, I finally was able to forgive.
Only time will tell if they truly deserve my forgiveness, but once you have forgiven, you have done all you can and it’s up to the other person to prove that they deserve it. I am not saying that they have to constantly prove themselves, but if the same mistakes are made again and there is no obvious/conscious effort to work on it, then it means that they will not reciprocate the effort that you have put in.
I have never been through anything more mentally exhausting before or emotionally challenging, but I wouldn’t change the experience for anything. A strength I didn’t know I had came out through the experience: The strength to forgive. It takes strength to forgive, because you have to let go of mistakes someone has made, when it would probably be easier to cut them out of your life completely. It is especially hard when you have people telling you to do so.
Everyone hears the term “Forgive and forget” in so many films, tv shows, books, and so on, but it is easier said than done. Forgiveness is difficult and forgetting impossible. My struggle is still not over and even though I have forgiven, I will never forget. But despite everything, I know that my life is better with them in it, for now.