I have just learned that forgiveness is not the excusing of someone’s actions and washing them away as though, in the end, there is nothing to forgive to begin with. But that forgiveness is the act of not resenting someone anymore after they did something “unacceptable” to you. Accepting the intolerable and letting go of the resentment that attaches us to the other party.
When I re-consider the way I’d forgiven people up until now, I realise that in its core my forgiveness wasn’t forgiveness but rather a mix of acceptance and excusing the offending party, which results in me finding reasons to blame myself instead of them for feeling the way I do. (NB: Which is not completely incorrect either. In objective terms, if I did not have a specific expectation towards someone, they could never disappoint me for not following through or for deceiving me).
That especially goes for my unhealthy relationships where I allowed abuse. Even in the phrasing of the previous sentence I said: I allowed abuse instead of I got abused by him. I realise I’ve spent years blaming myself for my unhappiness and suffering in relationships of any kind because I simply should not have allowed it or I should not have trusted people to begin with. Wrong. Completely wrong. This can however be traced back to my aversion to helplessness with my spiralling emotions when I’m heartbroken, and the shortcut which ties my healthy and legitimate emotions to this vast database of trauma memories in my brains. I have an inner infernal pithole that I do my best to stay away from because it renders me helpless against myself. And anything that remotely feels familiar emtionally and semantically speaking is triggering to me. The perfect coping mechanism? Control. Having an overview of what I can control so I get to give myself responsibility and to respond with accountability.
Reasons why I resort to control:
- It’s so much easier because I get to think that “next time, I won’t let myself get disadvantaged or harmed that way again” (because I’ll either put my guard up, or try to love myself more to reach more self-sufficiency and not let myself get dependent on anyone else in the slightest way)
- My judgment of the other party becomes gentler because I acknowledge and try to understand their rationality and humanity behind their words and deeds; which in turn — and that’s the error I’ve unconsciously made so far while forgiving — annihilates the wrongdoing I didn’t tolerate. Result: “now that I’ve washed your sins away, there is nothing I have to forgive you for”.
Is that necessarily negative? I’m still pondering on that. However, if I were to follow the proper definition of forgiveness, I conclude that I’ve never properly forgiven anyone. However, I don’t bear any grudges — therefore, the end result in terms of not holding feelings against another party is good. Nevertheless, with my art of forgiving, even if it enabled genuine rekindling with others, I’ve still found ways to harm and blame myself in the process. And that’s where I fail at the art of forgiving and what I want to work on from now on. I have to stop diminishing my self-worth based on social incidents that my true and healthy self finds intolerable. I don’t deserve it. I have the right to be disappointed and still move on lightheartedly with the following in mind: don’t delude yourself; what happened has really happened and despite your pain, you have survived it. Stop downplaying everything so much.
But if I were to hone in on self-forgiveness…that’s when I lack mercy towards the offending party the most. Why? Because that person is myself. And I believe many can relate to this. When you’re not able to forgive yourself, you’re technically buying a one-way ticket to hell. The worst kind of hell. In the most extreme cases, that’s when I become unworthy of everything except death. And even if some people could relate, this is something I wouldn’t wish upon my worst enemy. Denial of self-forgiveness is the worst heartache one can put oneself through. What we usually forget in the process is that even when you punish yourself so harshly, it’s not going to change what you did. And if we’re in the case of being the offender of someone else besides ourselves and decide we’re not worthy of our own forgiveness when the matter at hand however got resolved with our victim, denying oneself self-forgiveness is really a waste of one’s life. Listen closely (provided you are a self-aware human capable of introspection — because, trust me, there are quite a few, such as narcissists who don’t do that):
- Whoever you hurt probably doesn’t know you’re torturing yourself so much; therefore, it doesn’t pay off.
- They very likely — very likely — already forgave you. Which leads me to the third point:
- Even if they forgave you, your own forgiveness, is what matters most because you can’t always count on them having forgiven you. Count on yourself because you are your permanent companion throughout Life. As we know it, Life comes with two certainties: You’re born and you’ll die one day. I’ll add another one: People come and go, but you will always stay with yourself — might as well embrace that solitude.
Out of the three aforementioned elements, the one that pays off the most is point 3. Obviously. And why? Because you give yourself another chance at life and get to start over again. You get to make amends and learn from that lesson. Grace.
You may have decided to part ways with the other person and still care about how they feel about the situation. But at the end of the day…there may not be much you could do to completely reverse things. In fact, it’s impossible. And they have to tend to their own emotional wounds. If you however decide to stay around each other, then you can potentially work through things together but with the following in mind: if person A is the one who bears feeling/wound Z, then feeling Z is a personal issue to A. Person B cannot switch bodies with A to fix the Z feeling/wound. A is responsible of themselves. As is B. Your wound is yours to heal (getting help to do so is great though and it restores faith in oneself and other humans especially, so I highly recommend it).
For now this is all I have to share regarding the topic of forgiveness. I’ll keep pondering and hopefully come up with healthier rebound strategies to get closer to Inner Peace.