Let me start by saying that forgiving someone who isn’t sorry has been one of the most difficult aspects of my evolution. It’s not something you can just decide to do and it’s done. It is something you have to be mindful of and constantly work at.
Every time he twists my words into something they are not, I forgive him. Every time he calls me a bully or some other equally unpleasant name, I forgive him. Every time he plays mind games with me, I forgive him. Every time he purposely pushes my buttons so he has an excuse, I forgive him. Every time he ignores me or blows me off, I forgive him. Every time he makes me cry, I forgive him. Every time he breaks my heart like only he can, I forgive him.
Every. Single. Time.
But it’s hard. It’s hard because his perspective and perception of things is not indicative of my true state of mind, my intentions or my motives. It’s hard because he has no accountability for his words/actions and no understanding of how he makes me feel. It’s hard because I am not someone who normally walks on eggshells, sugarcoats things or makes myself small. It’s hard because I feel like he treats me like garbage. It’s hard because sometimes my anger boils over because of these things. But I have learned not to react because when I react, that is when the power over myself shifts to him, that is when he gains a sense of validation for the opinions he holds about me and a sense of righteous justification for the way he reacts to and treats me because of those opinions. So I don’t outwardly react anymore. I have learned to control those extreme emotions that he brings out in me. Not for his benefit. For mine. To build up my emotional intelligence, my maturity and my peace of mind. That doesn’t mean I don’t still get angry or that I don’t have a right to be angry. I do. Yet, I still forgive because just like I have my perception of the situation, he has his and he is entitled to it. While I may wish he could see and feel and know what is in my head and heart, I am also aware that I do not see, feel and know what is in his either. So, it’s only fair that I give him the benefit of the doubt and try not to see everything he says and does as an attack or a slight or accuse him of having ulterior motives or negative intentions, even though that is exactly what he does to me.
So I forgive him but I am still fighting an internal battle daily…with one side telling me that he does not deserve my forgiveness and the opposing side saying the contrary.
It’s a struggle not to fall victim to the first side, the side that relentlessly tugs on my heart and tries to make me remember, again and again, every hurtful word and action and how much they affected me. But by refusing to forgive him, I am only doing harm to myself because to forgive is to let go. And when you don’t let go, it weighs you down. I thought I had let him go because I no longer wanted anything from him. Apparently, there is more to letting go than just not talking to him and resolving myself to the fact that we won’t end up together. He still occupies my thoughts. I am still affected by him in certain ways…able to be moved by him and able to still be deeply hurt by him. So I don’t think I have fully let him go. I still care about what happens to him and I still want him to be happy. I still feel a selfless sense of love for him. So that is part of the reason I choose to forgive him.
Besides, refusing to forgive him would only keep me holding onto thoughts and feelings that are negatively-driven and will never do me any good. So instead of refusing to forgive him, I choose to release his hold on me. This doesn’t mean I must forget all the things he said and did. But I can use those memories as lessons, as a reminder of how I want others to treat me and in turn, how I should treat others. I just have to keep in mind that forgiving him doesn’t mean that I am invalidating my own feelings. I am allowed to feel angry or hurt by the things he has said to me and how he has treated me. I know I have hurt him, as well. Sometimes, people hurt one another and it’s natural and okay to acknowledge and feel that. And it is ok to not hate them for it, even if they have no remorse for hurting you.
Instead of holding onto and wallowing in the negative emotions, I have just taken to letting them flow naturally, letting my feelings come and go based on the situation, while still taking time to breathe and assess how I’m actually feeling before I react. That pause between action and reaction, that process of thought before words, has made so much difference in me. It can be hard to embrace forgiveness when I still feel the need to heal after being hurt but if I refuse to depart from those feelings of anger, betrayal and sorrow, it only prolongs my healing process.
So no, forgiveness is not as easy as just taking your next breath. Sometimes, forgiveness is just swallowing all of the unfairness, choking it down until you can breathe again. Because some people will never comprehend the emotional pain they’ve inflicted on others and they will never hold themselves accountable for the repercussions of their actions.
Forgiveness is acceptance…the acceptance of life as it is, the acceptance of the unbalance, the acceptance of the fact that our stories do not always end with poetic justice, the acceptance of the fact that people can hurt other people and not get hurt back, the acceptance of the fact that people are sometimes unaware of the pain they inflict and the acceptance of the fact that some people can also be fully aware of it and not give two fucks about the echoes of their words and actions.
But how you receive those echoes…whether you make a wall of yourself and let the blunt force trauma of them slam into you, causing damage every time, or whether you make yourself a body of water, fluidly accepting and letting them flow through you with minimal resistance and minimal damage….is what forgiveness really is.