By: Lynnett Simm
Forgiving someone you used to love, who is gone now, is not as hard as one would think, and that’s because forgiveness is all about you releasing the pain, judgment and expectation of justice or revenge.
Cliché but truth: Forgiveness is more for the victim than the abuser!
The process to resolve the hurt and pain caused by someone is 100% up to you. We have no control of what other people do, but we have ALL the control on how we react. Yes, I understand that the pain caused by a traumatic experience is involuntary; the wave of pain and emotions can just hit us without warning. But once you have recovered from the initial shock and recognize you will survive, that is when YOUR healing is within YOUR control.
Before I started my personal journey of forgiveness and healing, I needed to be shown that not forgiving was actually hurting me. I had to recognize that I was becoming angry, passive aggressive, bitter and my negativity was spilling over to loved ones. Once I started focusing on the repercussions of un-forgiveness, it was then that I was able to start taking steps toward a full recovery through forgiveness. My feelings about the traumatic event were still valid, and I would continue to remember the event. I then started working on reasons why I did not want to be angry any longer. I looked into how this anger and bitterness affected my relationships with those I loved and with the offender. I had to take stock into how my relationship with the transgressor would or would not continue.
Did I want or need a relationship with them?
Whether you decide to maintain a relationship with the culprit or not will influence your path to forgiveness. For example, my relationship with my father was something that I wanted to keep, and he was a person I wanted in my life. Therefore, I had to work with him and talk to him in order to continue a relationship with him. I had to be honest, and I had to be clear with my boundaries.
Should you choose to not continue a relationship with that person, then you need to be able to set clear boundaries. Even after a divorce, parents have to stay in relationship when there are children involved. In this situation, you don’t have to have a personal relationship, but there has to be some kind of relationship in order to help and support your children. Parents need to support their children with relationships, and your ex-spouse is going to be one of those relationships. So clear boundaries are very important when it comes to forgiveness. Boundaries allow each person to understand what is going to be acceptable and what is not.
Once you recognize that forgiveness is recovery for you, and within your control, the steps to forgiveness are possible. A good, first step is simply saying you forgive the person. You can do this quietly to yourself, or you can do this in your mind. But every day you take one tiny step and say you forgive them. Initially when you say this, it will feel false and may even be sickening to you. The statement doesn’t mean forgiveness has been achieved. However, our minds are exceptionally powerful, and as we continue to say that we forgive that person we let in the positive possibility of forgiveness. Each time you make the statement of forgiveness, your heart beings to heal, even if it’s just a little bit.
Another step toward forgiving someone is to see things from their side. Examining the perpetrator’s perspective is not about rationalizing or justifying the injury but rather to reflect on the person and better understand the circumstances that made it possible to be a person who could hurt another person. For example, when it comes to my father I had to look into his life, see where he was hurt and how that had affected him in such a way that allowed him to come to a place where he hurt others.
that you have a close relationship or you haven’t spoken in years, YOU are in control of YOUR emotions and YOUR life. You are in control of how you want to react and who you want to become.
I can only tell you that when I chose to take the step toward forgiveness that my life changed and that the lives of those around me changed for the better. Peace, joy, forgiveness, hope and love flourished… (continued)