Forgiveness is something that many of us find unpalatable. The mere thought of it can make us withdraw instantly; make our blood curdle with anger or our tummies twist and sicken with the recall of the pain and memories linked to the event or person we feel did us wrong. Forgiveness has been a tough one for me to consider, let alone action. Even as I sit here typing I am working through yet another forgiveness process and this one is proving to be quite the challenge. But the process I am going through at the moment is not for that which needs forgiving, but rather it is for me to unshackle the lingering connection to the past, so that I can move more completely into the now. It is so I can liberate myself from the anger and hurt and expel past contaminants that I continue to allow, consciously and subconsciously, to penetrate my present.
Forgiveness is not about making us vulnerable or weak to the event or person that has hurt us, but rather, it is the severance of the invisible tie that continues to connect us to the pain, or the bond that continues to attach us to the event or person, even in our separation.
As unpalatable as we may find forgiveness there are many reasons to try and achieve it. Working though forgiveness is not about the event or the other person. It is not about absolving them, nor is it permission for ill-treatment towards us to continue. Forgiveness is not about making us vulnerable or weak to the event or person that has hurt us, but rather, it is the severance of the invisible tie that continues to connect us to the pain, or the bond that continues to attach us to the event or person, even in our separation. Working through our emotions, especially the anger and resentment linked to our pain can help us to forgive and achieve emotional health and balance, in order for us to find our way back to more positive and meaningful relationships with ourselves and others. Forgiveness is about us and allows us to work out if we can move on, with or without, the event or person we feel has done us wrong.
It is natural when we feel we have been wronged, that the emotions linked to the event or person are experienced both internally through feelings and thoughts and externally through verbal or behavioural interactions. Often we think that by simply uttering to ourselves that we choose to forgive, that we have unpacked everything during our process. Or because time has placed itself between ourselves and the event or person, we think that because it looks like a tiny dot on the horizon; that it is done. But yet, we can find ourselves continuing to tell the same story linked to the event or person over and over, still with such pain attached to it. We may even find that the more we tell the story, the deeper it buries itself into our present and suddenly we find that we have never truly let it go at all. As I have written about in another piece ‘About the Author’ we cannot undo or change the trauma we have suffered along the way but we can change our thoughts and we do have the ability to release the damage. Forgiveness is the key to changing those thoughts and releasing the damage. Forgiveness is no easy feat, but in order to really forgive, we need to do more than just say we are willing to do so. We need to uncover our unconscious feelings, and it is the awareness and the mindfulness as to why we feel the way we do, which is the key to the forgiveness process and the healing that needs to occur.
We need to uncover our unconscious feelings, and it is the awareness and the mindfulness as to why we feel the way we do, which is the key to the forgiveness process and the healing that needs to occur.
In my experience I have found forgiveness to be a bit like a moving target, that when we decide to forgive and go through the process of doing so; sometimes we are surprised by what we actually uncover. We might start out with the intention of forgiving ourselves, someone else or an event, only to find that we uncover a similar thread of occurrences across our past and with this discovery we grasp that the issue runs deeper than the one we first thought we were initially embarking on to forgive and heal. For example we may start out thinking we need to forgive our partner for certain behaviours that have hurt us. But, as we go deeper into the process we may find ourselves identifying that their behaviours are not dissimilar to former partners or to those of our siblings or carers. And it is in this breakthrough that we can uncover patterns that may have played out a number of times across our lives, or we may be able to identify how we may have attracted similar situations in the past. This also gives us the opportunity to discover if we have been projecting something onto our current partner that was actually meant for someone or something else. Whatever it is that we find it is from here that we can move forward to break any patterns or projections by expanding our forgiveness process to better accommodate the deeper issue.
There is no doubt about how intricate and difficult the forgiveness process is. It is not uncommon during the process to find ourselves waking with intense feelings that have bubbled to the surface yet again. That after working so hard and so long on the process we feel like we are right back at square one. But this is the point, as difficult and as frustrating as it may be, that we need to remind ourselves of where we have come and that the forgiveness process is by no means a sprint but rather a marathon. As disheartening as this may seem, hope can be felt again by taking a glance back into the pain and the suffering that continues to tie us to the pain, and realise that by continuing to move forward we are moving closer to severing the tie that bonds us to that pain and further in the direction of the future that we choose for ourselves. So as I work through my current forgiveness journey, I am reminded that even though I may stumble and tire, I would rather keep moving forward through a process that will eventually release me from the crippling ties of the past. Keep moving through a process that will allow me to choose mercy and love, not for that which requires forgiveness, but for me. On this occasion, for me my forgiveness will be the final goodbye to the past I have felt wronged me, and will be an all embracing hello to a more positive and healthy relationship to myself and others – present and future.
From my heart to yours