The Freeing Power of Forgiveness
When you’re carrying less around, you feel lighter.
It makes sense. You are no longer physically supporting it, and you can use your stamina for something else. It’s the same when we let go of our anger and blame, and we dump that heavy, negative energy that weighs us down. And in doing so, dump negative emotions.
But it’s easier said than done.
It’s natural to feel anger, hurt, and resentment toward those who have injured us. I know this first hand. Who doesn’t? It’s universal.
And why let someone off the hook? The guilty need to be punished. They wronged us, after all. They are the ones who should be asking for forgiveness. Bestowing pardon smacks of injustice.
The trouble with this thinking is that we are punishing ourselves, reliving the slight again and again.
Forgiving is hard! But not forgiving is even harder in the long run, and we end up punishing ourselves.
Every time we think of it, we churn up the bile and re-experience the same hurt and resentment.
I do not hold grudges consciously. Time heals a lot, or I move on. But if the wound is deep, I find myself sliding on that slippery slope of anger.
The feeling is stuck, and I can’t rip it off. At least not all of it.
My Personal Experience
Two instances come to mind immediately.
My divorce some 30 years ago, another lifetime really, and more recently, a friend who ended our friendship without an explanation.
It’s not too often I see the vestiges of my failed marriage, but over the summer, my son got married, and not only was my ex there, but he performed the ceremony. So yes, it came back.
And no, it wasn’t just seeing him.
The photographer ran down the list and took all the usual pictures. Except for one. The ex stood with my son and his current wife, and then my son and his second ex-wife. But no first wives or mother of the groom.
I get it, we’re not together, for the good of both of us. But he’s still our son. Together. It’s wasn’t acute anger, but the flame grew and turned the simmer into a full boil. I saw it as it unfolded and I kept my irritation to myself.
A younger friend told me that sometimes this is the standard practice, but it didn’t alleviate my feelings. And I’m entitled to them right or wrong.
The second is current and, therefore, more difficult. Again, it was a relationship ending unpleasantly. We never talked about it, though I tried to initiate conversations twice.
I’m not saying I did nothing. Maybe I even deserved it, but I also deserved an explanation so we could end the relationship like adults.
Now we pass by one another without acknowledgment. Fine.
It’s like a dead-end street; only I’m trying to move forward against a wall.
My conclusion is this: forgiving and letting go doesn’t happen at the same time.
We can forgive in our hearts, but the energy of grief and loss is still there and will only dissipate over time. And sometimes it’s a long time.
I believe we let go of pieces of memories and not the entire memory, so much is embedded in our hearts.
We cannot forgive or disengage from the attachments we form to people or to the experiences we’ve shared with them, not all at once. Some things feel so attached to us; it’s like peeling off our skin. We separate with effort, but it leaves scars, sensitive spots.
Think of those scars as badges of forgiveness. Or at least trying to forgive.
To really let go, we need to heal.
Time does this. And once you heal, you can let go of it all because you will no longer experience the hurt.
So keep moving, even slowly, you will form new attachments and make new memories. New layers will grow over the scars.
Take time to listen to music, dance, sing, and laugh every chance you get.
Meditate if the spirit moves you. It helps to still that inner voice, feel what you’re feeling, and get it over with. Make peace with it without judgment.
Surround yourself by people who love you.
Hug someone. If you don’t have a someone, hug a cat or a dog. Borrow someone’s if you need to.
Accept the fact that it will take time and give yourself the love and patience you deserve.
It will help you find peace. I know it’s helped me.