Forgiveness is one of those tricky things to figure out and incredibly hard to do. A lot of times, to forgive is to give up a lot of bottled up emotion, to open yourself to feeling that emotion and then letting it be “free”. That is hard. Without even realizing it, we can become dependent on that bottled up emotion and use it as an excuse to other issues that we may have. We fall into a trap of holding on to emotions, to bitter experiences, toxic relationships or people, and letting that dictate our future.
It is hard to believe how much our past experiences can play into our future decisions and life. Well, maybe not that hard to believe when you think that everything we have gone through as an individual makes us who we are. Every decision, conversation, experience, person we interact with, plays into shaping who we are. When we have a negative experience, or experience a level of trauma caused by another person, that leaves a whole pot of emotions that then factor into everything else.
Forgiveness is essential to healing, to moving forward, to letting go of those emotions that cloud our future. This doesn’t have to apply to any major trauma or event (although it quite often does), this can honestly just be forgiving someone of a mistake they made or for what they said when they had an off day. Without forgiveness, those emotions (and that person) hold power over you. You may or may not realize it, but it is there. It factors in to every decision you make, and you’ll see that one day.
However, how do you forgive someone who never “admits” to what they have done to you? Never recognizes the harm? Never even gives a thought to what happened or how it affected you?
Sure, in a perfect world, this would never happen. And we can all sit and say, “If I’m wrong, I’m wrong and I’ll own that” and while most of us would, not all would. When you are trying to cope with something that has happened to you, and the person who did it doesn’t even recognize or admit to it, it takes a different kind of forgiveness to occur. That forgiveness is truly for yourself. It truly says that you are ready to move forward, to free those emotions, to free yourself from your past. You aren’t doing it for anyone else, because in these instances, there isn’t anyone else to do it for.
At its core, forgiveness is for the person doing the forgiving, NOT for the person being forgiven. This is so so so important to remember. When you are working through your own hurt and trying to move forward, that is for YOU. It is not for anyone else and when you are at that point of forgiveness, you need to be sure that YOU are ready to forgive. To let loose those emotions. To truly be free. Not because someone is pressuring you, not because you feel like you have to do it.
Forgiveness is more than just saying “I forgive you”. It is more than just uttering words to yourself or someone else. It is a promise to yourself to let go of what happened. To let go of the emotions attached to whatever it was. When you are ready to forgive, you are truly saying, I am done. I let go of what happened. I let go of my feelings around what happened. I am letting go of what happened.
Forgiving does not mean that it didn’t happen. It does not mean that you be perfectly healed. It does not mean that you will never remember or never have flashbacks. It does mean that you are ready to take that next step in healing. That you are ready to lose the chains that have weighed you down.
For me, forgiveness came naturally once I took stock of where I was at in life. I had realized that what was done to me was not done out of hatred. It was done because that person simply did not know better. That person loved me, still does love me, and they simply did not know any other way to be. Forgiveness became my way of taking back my life. Freeing myself from what I was, where I was going, who I was turning into. I didn’t say anything to that person, I didn’t feel like I needed to. At the end of the day, I did it for me and I was the only one that needed to do it.