Why Forgiveness is Necessary for Healing – And How to Get There
I’m pretty fond of talking about forgiveness. You can see what I’ve previously written on the topic HERE. And this week, I feel urged to write about it again. Maybe it’s Mercury Retrograde, maybe it’s nothing to do with anything, but it seems the last few weeks everywhere I turn I’m seeing or hearing stories on the topic. People struggling to forgive; people doggedly not wanting to forgive.
All of which is understandable. When my husband walked out on me and our two teenagers for his very young girlfriend, I was left shocked and shattered. And these feelings soon gave way to ANGER. I was hurt and humiliated and it seemed unimaginable that I would ever feel anything but this. I hated him – the thought of one day forgiving him was laughable!
I now know that this was because I didn’t really understand what forgiveness was. I thought forgiveness was about him and what he did. I thought forgiving him would mean excusing what he did; excusing the impact it had on mine and my family’s lives. I also worried that if I forgave him I would be leaving myself open to similar things happening again.
I now believe that forgiveness is part of the healing process. For US. Not them. Forgiveness goes hand in hand with letting go, and with finding acceptance of the situation. It’s also an acknowledgement that NONE of these things are necessarily easy to come by, but they ARE well worth the commitment and effort. Finding them will eventually release you from your pain and towards your freedom.
Some people say that they can’t or won’t forgive. Some people say that they need the hate, the hurt and the anger to fuel them. To fuel them towards a better life; to ensure that they never find themselves in a similar situation. They say that they can’t ever forget the bad feelings.
Well, I don’t deny the things that I’ve been through, and I haven’t forgotten my feelings. They were a massive part of me… until it was time to let them go. I don’t feel now that I need any particular form of fuel to propel me forward, at least not a fuel that stems from anything external. My fuel is ME. I want to be better and do better because of me. Not because of something that somebody did to me in the past, or because of something that happened to me in the past.
I know what I’ve been through. And I’ve arrived at a place where I’m pretty confident that I won’t let similar things happen to me again. Because what happened made me stronger, grew me, and taught me valuable lessons. I don’t need to hold on to the negative feelings in order to move forward.
I would much rather strive towards a place of indifference. Indifference to the person who did that terrible thing to me; indifference to who they are or what they’re doing now. I don’t wish them ill, because they mean nothing to me now.
The TRULY beautiful thing about this? With nothingness comes peace.
And for me, THAT is what forgiveness is about. It’s about accepting (not denying or fighting against) what happened. It’s accepting that it was in the past, that I’ve learned what I needed to learn from it, and that I’ve let it go. All of it. It’s knowing that I don’t need the memory of it to stay alive – I don’t need the feelings it perpetuated to act as fuel. I got the lesson. And I’m at peace with that.
To be clear:
Forgiving does NOT mean you must let the person who caused you pain, back in
It does NOT mean you leave yourself open to more hurt, misery or abuse
It does NOT mean excusing inexcusable behaviour with no further thought
Forgiveness means deciding not to waste any more precious mental energy on the person. It means letting go of hate. It means no longer being EXHAUSTED by hate. It means being in a place where you are no longer bothered by him or her, one way or the other. It means arriving at a place of indifference towards him or her. It means closing the door in peace.
For me, forgiveness came in time, and it came naturally. When it came, I knew that I had healed. These days, I am on good terms with my ex-husband. It may not happen this way for you. It may not come naturally. You may not ever need to speak with your ex again. Know that this is OK. We are all wired differently and we are all subject to and influenced by our own personal set of circumstances.
Know also that there is no timeline for it to happen, just as there is no timeline for healing. Forcing it will do you no favours. Making a commitment to work towards it for the sake of your healing – for the sake of YOU – will.
What do you think? Do you agree that forgiveness is something to strive for, or not? I'd love to hear your view - let me know in the comments.
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