My recent post on how a practice of forgiveness can help enhance our mental health brought up many different feelings for me. I am an educator. I teach about the benefits and the true meaning of forgiveness, yet it is still something I tend to have a love/hate relationship with.
It is really difficult at times, to get your head around that forgiveness is for yourself when someone has really broken your trust and treated you in a way that you never thought possible.
Trust for me has always been key in life. It can be hard to give, and when it has been broken, trust is one of the hardest things to ever be able to rebuild. For me, a broken trust became nearly unforgivable.
My struggle with forgiveness has been a battle within myself for just over two years. Someone broke my trust and did a few things that I never believed that those close to you could do.
Through this time, I dealt with many emotions. Sadness, remorse, guilt and anger. It was the last two (guilt and anger) that seemed to be the largest barriers to my ability to forgive and if I was ever going to get there and feel that inner peace, I was going to have to understand these core feelings.
Guilt led me down a path of not actually forgiving myself. Self-forgiveness is something that I strongly believe you need to be able to do before you move into forgiveness as a whole. I felt guilty over what I perceived at the time was me giving up on someone. Not being there when they needed support. What I later came to realise, was that I was there through all the times and had given as much as I could before it came to a point that it was negatively affecting me. Being the only support person for someone is too much of a weight to carry (and where boundaries have to be set so it doesn’t impact you – and this will be a topic for another day).
It was through many conversations with those close to me, when I finally accepted that I needed to talk about my feelings and truly open up (something I am still learning how to do). I accepted that it wasn’t necessary for me to feel guilty. I had done more than enough to support. I was finally able to forgive myself.
This self-forgiveness then gave me the opportunity to look into the other main emotion that would arise which was anger. It gave me the opportunity to reflect and start to look at the situation itself. I was able to look through a different lens and start to put in place a practice which had me using empathy to try and see the situation from a different perspective. This, coupled with my ongoing journey around mindfulness moved me to being able to have conversations about the person and situation without feeling any anger.
This two and a bit year journey finally came to an end just last week. I haven’t explicitly said that I forgive them or their behaviour (because it’s not about that), nor have I reconciled with them. Being able to work through those heavy feelings, acknowledge and understand them, led to my forgiveness.
My forgiveness journey wouldn’t have been possible if I didn’t have the underlying understanding of how to get there. It was never about how long it took. It’s always been about when I was ready. I have let go of the negative thoughts and emotions, and as cheesy as it sounds, the weight that has left my shoulders has been an unbelievable feeling.
Today I decided to forgive you.
Not because you apologised, or acknowledged the pain that you caused me, but because my soul deserves peace.Najwa Zebian