Forgiveness is never easy. But, I have learned that to be happy, I can’t hold onto things. Now, that doesn’t mean that I am willing to put myself in a position to be hurt again, but I can’t cling to the hurt, because all it does is hurt me.
We have all been hurt by other people in our lives. Some hurts are huge…betrayals and such. Others not so much. But, how we respond to those hurts is what makes all the difference. I have been that person that holds onto a grudge. I can tell you from first-hand experience, it didn’t do me any good. The fact that I stayed upset with that person for years didn’t hurt them at all, in fact, I’m not sure that they even knew about it. But it hurt me. I was the one that had to sift through the anger, the hurt, and sometimes the tears. So who benefitted from my holding on…because I sure didn’t.
My Personal Experience
In the last post from this series, I spoke about being sexually assaulted as a child. This is probably one of the most difficult things that I have ever had to forgive. For years, I let this instance be something that defined me. It was a part of my identity, I was a victim. Then one day I had a realization. Did I really want to live the rest of my life as a victim? Is that how I wanted to be remembered? Or, did I want to be a survivor? You see, there is a very big difference in the two. A victim is someone who is still under the power of their assailant. A survivor, however, is someone who has overcome the situation.
Moving from victim to survivor was no easy task. I let my childhood rule my life. Because of what I went through as a child, I even had a hard time bathing my own child. This is when I started to realize exactly what damage had been done to me, and how much I was still letting this control my life.
Forgiving my step-father was so hard. I had so much hurt, and he had never even admitted what he had done. But I finally reached a point where I couldn’t hold on anymore. I couldn’t let his actions control me. I had to let it go. So I did. I purged my soul of all the anger, all the hurt, all the fear and I forgave him. His actions were just that, they were his. I realized that I no longer had to be controlled by those actions. Let me tell you, the weight that was lifted at that moment was huge. I could breathe again.
I think that forgiving yourself is so much harder than forgiving others. We hold onto guilt so easily. Plus, there are always reminders of our mistakes that continue to make us feel guilty. Here’s the thing though…if we can’t forgive ourselves, how can we expect others to forgive us.
Honestly, forgiving myself has been extremely hard. When I was an addict, I hurt a lot of people. And while I was able to apologize to them and ask their forgiveness, I still held onto the guilt. I felt guilty about it all, about becoming an addict, about my relationships, about my life. I allowed others to use that guilt to manipulate me. And I was very easy manipulated for quite some time. It wasn’t until I took a good look at myself that things changed. I had to come to grips with the situation, and see it for what it was. I had changed my life completely. So, I put my foot down, and refused to be manipulated and made to feel guilty any longer. I finally apologized to myself…and it felt good.
Forgiveness is never easy. Guilt can be a huge thing to deal with. But, if we can’t learn to forgive, we can never truly move forward. Join in the conversation. What is harder for you…forgiving or asking for forgiveness? Forgiving others or forgiving yourself?