“How can I possibly forgive them, I have so much anger inside the thought of them makes me vomit.” I recall one of my clients stating this to me regarding their partner who had an affair and left her, leaving my client to care for the children alone. I have worked with many clients with similar stories of parents, children, and friends leaving them with a knife in their back. In listening to my client I could feel their pain, I felt my heart hurt for them. Yet, I knew forgiveness was the only way they would heal and be free of such internal emotional torture.
Forgiveness is NOT automatic trust. Trust is a process that is earned through experiences over time. Some may never earn your trust again due to behaviors they continue to have.
Forgiveness is NOT making the person “pay for” the offense they have committed. It is not a test to see how worthy they are of your forgiveness. It is a choice. It is not to be held as a weapon to use in the midst of future arguments or a burden to guilt a person into giving you what you want. Doing so is an unhealthy defense mechanism you are using to control and attempt to minimize getting hurt again. Forgiveness is freeing yourself of toxic thoughts and feelings NOT attempting to control another person.
Forgiveness is NOT instant joy. It does not mean you will never have feelings of sadness or wish things were different. You are human and will have these feelings. Forgiveness means these feelings don’t consume you and become the compass of which you live your life.
Forgiveness is not letting the person out of consequences. You are still allowed to set healthy boundaries with the person. These boundaries may include ending a relationship, distancing yourself from the person, or other agreements that may be made to help build trust.
Forgiveness opens the door to healing. Healing is a process. Just as a broken bone takes time to heal after the cast is placed, you will need time to heal after the decision to forgive. Think of forgiveness as the cast. The process of healing can feel like an emotional roller coaster at times; however, there is an end to this ride even though it may feel eternal. You may find yourself praying for the feeling to leave, wishing you could just move on and forget the incident, or begging and pleading just to be numb to the situation. Just remember the process promotes peace. You will be looking back on the situation one day, remembering that at one point in time the hurt felt like eternity. If you are finding it hard to move past an emotional wound, I encourage you to see a therapist to learn ways of coping and healing so that you can regain your power and refuse to allow others poor character and choices to be the puppeteer of your life.
“Forgiveness is not forgetting. It is letting go of the hurt.” – Unknown