I don’t want to get into the details, but basically, I am having a hard time forgiving someone. What they did to hurt me happened a while ago, we talked about it and they apologized, but I still can’t seem to let it go. There’s no point in rehashing it with them at this point. I just need to know, how do you forgive someone when you can’t seem to move past it?
Fighting to Forgive
Dear Fighting to Forgive,
You’re pissed. You’re hurt. You’re sad. And forgiving the person who brought you to this place isn’t easy. It doesn’t matter if they apologized, if you felt that they heard you out, if the initial hurt was months or even years ago; the burden remains on your heart and it doesn’t seem to be able to budge.
As someone who has held many an unwilling grudge in her lifetime, I can empathize with you on this one. For me, past emotions often come back in waves; I will think I have moved on from something, and then suddenly, it crashes over me. This is because I didn’t take the time to work through the emotions when they were most relevant. You say that you talked about it and they apologized, so perhaps there really is nothing else they can do for you to help you forgive them. So what can you do for yourself?
Forgiveness is not about the other person. The act of forgiveness is about freeing yourself from the weight of your pain.
Here’s the thing: forgiveness is not about the other person. The act of forgiveness is about freeing yourself from the weight of your pain. Despite people who act as though being a victim is some sort of desired status that people adopt for attention, it is actually a heavy burden to bear. It’s true that anger can be invigorating, particularly if it is of the self-righteous variety. But it is also exhausting, makes you feel powerless, and is hard to move past to work through the other emotions that are at play, like sadness. Whether they meant to or not, this person failed to be who you thought they were. They hurt your feelings, and you feel betrayed. Maybe you feel like you can’t truly trust and be vulnerable with this person, and that is a loss. It’s normal to feel sad about this loss. Maybe you haven’t let yourself be sad yet. Alternatively, perhaps you haven’t decided whether or not you should open your battered heart up to this person again, and that’s what is holding you back. Whatever the unresolved issue, the first step is to identify it.
In his book Consolations: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words, Philosopher/Poet David Whyte said,
“To forgive is to put oneself in a larger gravitational field of experience than the one that first seemed to hurt us. We reimagine ourselves in the light of our maturity and we reimagine the past in the light of our new identity, we allow ourselves to be gifted by a story larger than the story that first hurt us and left us bereft.”
Give yourself permission to move on with your life and to the bigger, happier, newer feelings it has in store for you. If there is truly nothing this person can do to help you forgive them, then you have everything in your power to let it go right now. Find a place of silence, write in a journal, or talk to a trusted confidant and listen to what your mind has to say about why you haven’t moved on. If it is a barrier you can tear down right at this moment, do it. If it isn’t, take the first step. You don’t need to live with this grudge inside of you forever. Be kinder to yourself.
I hope you can work through the journey of forgiveness and have a lighter heart on the other side. Good luck, my friend.