So, the other day I posted a blog about my Very Emotional Weekend and I ended up in quite a few interesting conversations about it. All in all, the conversations were very good, most of them helping people understand where I was, and how I was dealing with everything. During these conversations, there seemed to be a common question asked by quite a few different people "How in the world did you forgive THAT?"
My answer is simple; forgiveness is essential to happiness. If you continue to hold in negative feelings towards a person or a situation, you can never find true happiness. Granted, forgiveness is not always easy - sometimes it feels down-right impossible. I say to you this, beloved readers, NOTHING is impossible (except maybe slamming a revolving door or forcing your Husband to birth your next child). All kidding aside, you know exactly what I'm saying. Forgiving even the most difficult things, the largest betrayals, the deepest pain, is possible. You just have to WANT to do it.
You may asking yourself - or me - "Shouldn't the person you are trying to forgive need to WANT to be forgiven? Shouldn't they admit what they did was wrong before you forgive them?" My answer to that is NO. Forgiving someone for something they have done is a personal choice -- it is a choice for YOU, not for them. This choice that you are making is because you are ready to forgive the person for what they have done and move forward with your life. There are times when the person may not understand how or why they hurt you; but their mindset doesn't matter. Yours does. When we don't forgive someone, we can never move forward from what they did. That person - or their act - is holding you back from your happiness; and it will continue to do that until you forgive them.
Yes, some things are easier to forgive then others. A friend says something that hurts your feelings or embarrasses you in public; you give it a few hours and you forgive them. Never to be brought up again (or at least it SHOULDN'T be - that's a topic for another blog). Some things are much more difficult to forgive and take much more time. A cheating spouse, a beloved friend who steals from you, even a violent crime can be forgiven with the right time and the right mind set.
I won't tell you I know everything about all betrayals or how you're feeling about any particular thing you may have experienced. I can, however, tell you that I've done my fair share of forgiving - for the small things and the big things. The fact of the matter is, I try not to blog about things that I don't have a personal experience about, because I don't want you to think I'm just "lip service" or trying to convince you to do something that's not actually possible.
When I was in High School, I was the victim of a very violent sexual assault by the brother of a close friend of mine. I won't get into all the details (you don't really need to hear them) but I will tell you that it involved a weapon and a lot of details that are not welcome in my mind anymore. There was absolutely NO 'creepy' factor to this guy -- zero warning signs that something like this would happen. I had been left alone with him more than once in a semi-social setting, and never had an inclination of what he was capable of. Then one evening after two and a half hours of hell, my life was changed forever.
I'll admit that for the longest time, I was pretty screwed up about what happened. Many of my relationships suffered; mostly because for the longest time, nobody knew what happened to me. All they knew is that I was very distant and had a really hard time trusting anyone. So, very few people really wanted to be around me. A couple of my true friends stuck around, and thanks to a VERY amazing friend; I finally told my parents. I don't think I ever properly thanked him for caring so much as to ensure I got the help I needed. So thank you, Terry. You saved me more than you realize.
It took me a LONG time to forgive the person who did this to me. I went through a lot of anger, grief, denial, and hardship before I realized the only way I would be able to move forward and find happiness again was to forgive him. I'll be honest, I thought my therapist at the time was utterly insane when she told me that I needed to forgive him. I considered not even going back to her and finding someone that would accept me holding on to my anger and hatred towards this person. Then she reminded me of a very simple thing. "What he did to you is not going to change. The past is what it is. How much of it you allow to be in your present is your choice. His motivations, his current mindset, or the fact that he doesn't care what he did does not matter to you. What matters is how YOU cope with it."
After a few sexual assault courses and a few courses on self defense I realized that he and what he did to me does not control who I am. Nor does it define who I am or what kind of Partner I would make for the right person. It's in the past, and after many years of self-destructive behavior, awful relationships, and a LOT of soul searching; I finally forgave him. I moved past what he did to me, and came to terms with it. I learned a lot about myself and about what it takes to overcome difficult obstacles. Strange, when I look back on it now, it doesn't seem so big. The mountains I have faced since then are so much bigger, so much more important. Life and death in so many cases. In a way, I guess that first episode was "practice" for dealing with devastating things.
I've learned from my past, but I don't allow it to live in my present. I look forward to what (probably short) future I have; whether it's alone or with someone. I live to the fullest and find something to smile about every day - even when I need help finding my smile. I'm slow to trust, but quick to show people I love them. I don't invest easily, but when I do, it's all the way. I love those who allow it, and accept love from those who give it. None of these things would be possible if I still held onto this thing in my past. I would still be angry, hurt, and even more distant that I am now.
So, kittens. If you don't take anything else from this; please remember that YOUR personal happiness is what matters. Don't allow someone who has hurt you to continue to do so; it's not worth it. Forgive them, move forward, and ALWAYS remember that you're loved.