Forgiveness seems almost impossible sometimes. The Oxford English dictionary states that the definition of forgive is “to stop feeling angry with someone who has done something to harm, annoy, or upset you; to stop feeling angry with yourself.”
Forgiveness is a verb, which means that it’s an action word. To forgive is something you do. Forgiveness is not just something you think about, however you must spend quality time thinking about the person, what that person did to you, and why it hurt you. Then you can work on forgiveness.
As we looked at in “When You’ve Been Hurt”, there are different levels or depths of hurt, of pain, of betrayal, etc. If someone forgot your birthday, or forgot you had plans, that’s more easily forgiveable generally. If a friend betrayed your trust, or a partner betrayed your vows, or a stranger assaulted you, that’s a whole other level of hurt, thus it may be much harder to forgive that injustice. Forgiveness is not at all an easy thing to do, or to give. It’s unbelievably difficult in some cases. So, why bother?
Why Should You Forgive?
We bother, because the burden of carrying around that pain is much heavier and harder than the task of letting go. Let me say this up front. I am no expert on forgiveness. In fact it’s incredibly difficult for me to even write about it, because I currently have people in my life and in my past who I need to forgive. To word it a different way, I have bitterness in my heart. I know it’s not healthy to carry bittereness and an unwillingness to forgive, however forgiveness is almost an unbearable thought sometimes.
Why then, if people have hurt us so badly, should we even entertain the idea of forgiving them? Regardless of the depth of pain that person caused us, if we are unwilling to forgive that person, we are essentially keeping ourselves tied to the ongoing anger, and hurt, and in the case of people who are no longer in our lives, we remain attached to that person and to that incident by virtue of constantly thinking about it, re-living it and carrying around all the anger. This quote makes me laugh because it is absolutely true;
“When you don’t forgive, it’s like you are taking poison, hoping the other person will die.”-author unknown.
You Carry The Burden
All you do, when you refuse or don’t realize that you need to forgive someone, is walk around with that pain, and that heavy burden, every day, while very likely, the person who hurt you is either unaware, or has made an apology they think is sufficient, or, they’ve simply moved on and are likely enjoying their life. What are you doing? Do you enjoy re-living the pain? Is it enjoyable to carry around that resentment and anger?
I’ll bet you get triggered by the mention of his/her name, or by an anniversary date of the hurtful incident, or when you see a reminder of that pain. It’s very common for us to react to current people in our lives as if they are about to hurt us in the same way, such as being unfaithful. The fact that someone in your past was unfaithful to you, does not mean that someone new will do the same. You are ruining your chance at a happy life because you’re trying to avoid being hurt again. Trust me on this.
When you realize you’ve over-reacted, or someone tells you you’ve over-reacted to something, it’s wise to look back; look to what incident, comment or person hurt you in the past. My guess is that you’ve not healed that hurt yet. We must find a way to forgive that person and move on. Let God or the universe deal with that person’s heart. Drop the burden and move ahead with your life.
A couple weeks ago, while looking for a certain photo for my blog, somehow I unknowingly approved a website (obviously a fake website claiming to be innocent) thinking I was going to see a picture of someone who appears to be sad, BAM! A disgusting porn image assaulted my eyes. I mean assaulted! The shock and instantaneous fury I felt was intense. I was SO angry. I got rid of it, blocked the site, and spent the next two hours in a fit of rage. Why? Because one time I caught someone I loved with porn on his computer.
Please do not lecture me on your opinions of porn. We all are allowed our opinions. Your opinion may differ from mine and that’s fair. I personally think it’s wrong on so many levels, beginning with the sad realities about why people end up in this field and the message that these men, women and girls are simply objects. I am aware that many men view porn on a regular basis. People say “it’s no big deal, they all do it.” Women do too.
How It May Affect You
Side note: Studies show that it is in fact a very big deal because of how it erodes the physical and emotional intimacy in real relationships. For me, my trust was broken. I was completely and deeply broken. It devastated me because I then felt that I was not enough; not good enough, not thin enough, not pretty enough, not sexy enough, I as a woman, was just not enough.
In trying to explain how much this incident from my past hurt me, I went to this website to find the right words. This article is directed at husbands and wives, but it definitely applies to boyfriends, girlfriends, any romantic relationship. I have not yet healed and it affects me to this day! I struggle to forgive this.
In order to have a truly intimate relationship with someone, there is a huge element of vulnerability between two people. Trusting that special someone means that your partner will respect that vulnerability and truly honour you. If your partner is secretly watching complete strangers and gratifying himself with what should be just for the two of you, it breaks that trust. It did for me.
In a relationship, you want to feel valued, cherished, loved, understood and cared for. And you want your partner to feel the same. I think that porn creates this false idea of real life, of real relationships, of a real sex life. How can it not de-sensitize a person?
After my discovery, I could not get visions of him engaged in self-gratification out of my mind. I wondered why he needed me? Imagining him gettin’ it from a screen quite frankly gave me the creeps and was a huge turn-off for me. And I had a constant fear of not being good enough. It 100% changed and eroded the relationship. I still try, but as yet, I have not been able to forgive this person for hurting me this way. I still carry the pain of that incident because I can’t forgive him. He probably doesn’t realize how deeply he hurt me, and for how long it has affected me. Doesn’t seem fair does it? It’s not. Life isn’t fair. But it’s life and you have to find a way to live it in happiness.
When You Hold Grudges
When you hold grudges, it somehow makes you feel that you are in control of the situation. It’s as if by holding a grudge, you are preventing that person from ever hurting you again. I have news for you, you’re not preventing a damn thing. The Good Men Project website has some enlightening information. This speaks to me because I created control issues for myself as a result of being hurt very deeply.
Note: trying to control people, circumstances, situations does not work. It’s only an exercise in mental exhaustion, frustration and anxiety, with a healthy dose of wasted time! Not to mention just pissing people off.
FOCUS ON THE FUTURE~
How To Forgive
What you have to know is that when I say offer forgiveness, you are not necessarily offering it in person, to that person. You forgive in your mind and heart, but it’s still a lot of work. It is a decision and a process, sometimes a lengthy process.
Forgiving someone doesn’t mean that you accept what that person did, or that you’re saying that what they did to you was okay. It means that you are breaking that tie. You detach yourself for good, from that incident, from that pain, maybe even from that person. It means that you are freeing yourself from the burden of carrying that pain and resentment. You are moving on and will no longer associate yourself with that pain.
Remember that forgiveness is not about the other person. It’s not about whether he/she is sorry. It’s about you understanding that sometimes people hurt other people. Sometimes on purpose, sometimes without thought. Either way, you can choose to think about why that person hurt you; are they suffering and struggling? Do they repeat negative behaviours learned as a child? Maybe you choose to give no thought whatsoever about why this person hurt you. However you choose to go at it, the choice he/she made that hurt you, is NOT about you. It was his/her choice.
Make The Choice To Forgive
The choice to forgive, is about you. It’s about you consciously freeing yourself, to live your life without carrying the burdens imposed by someone else. I recently realized something about the guy who hurt me years ago. I have to forgive him for what he actually did to me, not that he looked at porn, but that he made a choice that hurt me. His actions caused me to doubt myself, my self-worth and my self-esteem. What I need to forgive him for is THAT he hurt me.
Thank you for reading. Check back next week, Sunday when we look at trust.
Carol Paino~ Parts Of Ourselves