In this next installment of Growing Pains and Life Lessons I’m going to tackle what might very well be the most difficult lesson I’ve learned thus far, and I’d even say I haven’t completely figured this one out, but it’s been absolutely vital to healing from past wounds that still sting in some ways.
Like many emotionally and socially immature people (I openly admit it, it’s what I am), I always thought forgiveness was the most ridiculous thing ever. Like what’s the point? I had it in my head that forgiveness meant that you were essentially inviting the same person or people to hurt you over and over again in the same way and that forgiving people were somehow pushovers.
As such, for many, many years I was one of the biggest grudge-holders you’d ever find. I actually went so far as to pride myself in my grudge-holding abilities. I’d hold minor shit over people’s heads years and years later. Needless to say, over time that hurt really took its toll on me and eventually it resulted in trust issues in that I was so afraid of being hurt by people I wouldn’t even let them in for fear of being hurt worse than I already was. Who knows how many friends I’d missed out on over the years because of it?
Well, as I’ve gotten older and wiser I’ve learned that’s forgiveness isn’t for the other person exactly. It’s become clear to me that forgiveness is more about me and my own emotional well being. I’ve learned that forgiveness doesn’t excuse the action or actions that you were hurt by, rather it just means that you no longer allow yourself to hurt over it.
Now, that doesn’t mean that I want anything to do with many of the people who have hurt me over the years. I still 100%, completely and totally refuse to befriend my former high school classmates. Yeah, they treated me like shit in school and if given the chance they’d do it all over again. However, high school was 12 years ago. Why should I hurt over the events of 12 years ago over people I’ll likely never see or hear from again anyway? It makes no sense does it?
As such, after years of struggling, I eventually found it within myself to forgive these people. Again, I want nothing to do with them nor do I excuse what they did, but man holding a grudge for 12 years was starting to not only get emotionally, but physically painful. It was bringing me down something horrible, and what the fuck for? It’s in the past and I can’t change it.
Of course, I also wonder if, during my time of becoming heavily guarded, I could have salvaged a few friendships I’d lost over the years because I became so irate over petty shit and stayed that way. We are all human and we all fuck up at times, and even if we mean to cause hurt or offense to someone at the outset, we often times come to regret that. As such, it’s clear that forgiveness is essential to any relationship – from a casual friendship all the way through an intimate/romantic relationship. Needless to say I’m much more understanding nowadays of these kinds of things and I’m more apt to not just default to the point of kicking people who hurt me out of my life just because of an isolated incident.
So yes, forgiveness. It’s hard, don’t get me wrong – it’s really fucking hard. It seems to be counter to human nature to forgive. You’re not going to get it right the first time or probably even the 100th time. I’m not even sure I’ve gotten it completely right yet. However, what I have gotten right thus far has been liberating, and I can only imagine that I continue to practice and refine the art of it, I will continue to feel that much more liberated, and so will you if you put it into practice in your life.