I spent years being angry and blaming my ex-husband for all of my problems. When my kids had a rough day, I blamed it on him not being there. When I had a rough day, I was mad that he didn’t try hard to keep me and keep our
Everyone has dealt with pain, abuse, or trauma of some kind. Every one of us. It’s horrible and not fair. I used to think – why would I forgive someone who doesn’t deserve it? If you’re an asshole, why would I forgive you? You did horrible things! Can we actually forgive someone who has hurt us so badly? SHOULD we forgive someone who has hurt us so badly? Someone who has damaged our body, our heart, our soul? Does forgiveness mean forgetting? Even if we’re ready to move on, how do we? I struggled with this for years.
I’d like to answer these questions with a question of my own. Something that may re-shape this whole struggle with “is he worth forgiving?” And here it is…
Is holding onto anger and hurt preventing YOU from creating the joy-filled, dynamic, healthy life you want? Because to me, that’s the only question that matters. Forgiveness is not about the person who did you wrong. It’s about freeing yourself from the past so that you can focus on the future you want. It’s about YOU. Forgiveness is the gift you give yourself.
I know I’m not a doctor or a therapist. I have no authority at all. I just learned things that helped me and I want to share them. My advice comes from my lived experiences and the joy I feel on the other side of forgiveness. I want you to experience that same joy – no matter what shit life has served.
There are plenty of people in my life who don’t “deserve” my forgiveness. Here’s one… I was molested when I was younger. It took me a long time to recognize that. Longer to admit it. And even longer to come to terms with it. Abuse in any form is
When I truly faced my abuse, it was liberating. It wasn’t easy, but it was liberating. I was no longer allowing this decades-old abuse to define me, define my adult behavior, or hold me back. What do I mean by that? I consciously and subconsciously created learned “beliefs” from this horrible event in my life. I thought that men only wanted me for my body, so sex = love. When I let go of that assumption, when I forgave, I was able to change my limiting belief. I was able to actually see myself as more than a body or an object or ornament, I actually believed men would want me for my ambition, my joy-filled-but-incredibly-loud laugh, my heart, drive, exuberance for life. And PS, changing those beliefs changed the course of my entire life and allowed me to finally attract my forever love. eh-hem…hint hint.
Do I think what that man did to me those years ago was okay? Absolutely not. He had just gotten kicked out of his own home, and my parents let him stay with us because they were trying to help. Who knows what his family life was like. Forgiveness is not about condoning the actions of another person. I just didn’t want to feel angry anymore. I didn’t want to keep reliving the past over and over again. I wanted to be a better mom, a better human.
I love this article in Psychology Today. Dr. Abigail Brenner makes 5 key points:
- When you forgive someone, you forgive yourself.
- Forgiving gets you out of victim mode.
- Forgiveness frees you.
- Forgiveness helps your health.
- Forgiving helps you move forward on your spiritual path.
“It allows you to take your power back.”
WOW! Without forgiveness, we simply continue to grasp so tightly to feelings of anger. We keep re-living the things in our past that we wish were different. Our focus remains on the past, which is robbing us of our present (and our future).
It’s practice. Just like anything else, when you do it for the time, you’ll suck at it. But it can be done. Takes time. When the thoughts from the past come up and the feelings of anger
or hurt appear, acknowledge them. Allow them to be without trying to push them away or shove them down. Let it out. What happened sucked. It’s OK to say it. And cry. Then, after a few moments, I feel better. Then I practice shifting my focus to today. It’s OK to feel hurt, it’s OK to feel anger, and then you can release it. Release that person from your heart. Release that person from the present moment. I always like to remember that if you change one thing, you change everything. If that one thing hadn’t happened, I don’t know what would be different in my life today. What if I hadn’t married my first husband? What if I hadn’t had my children? What if we had started together? I’d be miserable. I grateful he didn’t do anything to keep our marriage together. We are compete opposites in every wya. Every. Way. That doesn’t make him the devil. We’re just different. I really believe that changing one thing bout your life that you wish were different, would change the entire course of our lives, and too many things exist in our lives right now that we wouldn’t want to change. What really helped me release resentment and anger was the let it go exercise. I write about it in my book Becoming Mrs. Stanley, and the letting go exercise is one of the worksheets in my work book, which is a pdf download. It is extremely therapeutic to sit and write it all out on paper. Really feel the feelings so I could let them go.
So, maybe if you’re feeling super resistant to this idea of forgiveness, give yourself a little grace. Get out a journal and write out your feelings. And just decide to practice shifting your focus to today. Think about what moment you could create today with the people you love. Focus on the people who deserve your time and attention. Give yourself the gift of creating joy EVEN THOUGH something really
devastating happened to you, and you were hurt by someone who doesn’t “deserve” forgiveness. Perhaps you could reframe that and think, “I have today, and I can create joy today BECAUSE of my past” Our past made us who we are. More resilient, more wise, stronger. We can’t just “get” wiser. We can’t snap our fingers and “be” stronger one day. We grew to be wiser and stronger because of the experiences that we went though. The hard ones.
I’ll leave you with another one of my favorite quotes:
“In order to love who you are, you cannot hate the experiences that shaped you.”
Wishing you lots of love!
P.S. I’d love to continue this conversation on Instagram. I believe our lived experiences – no matter how gnarly – can help others who may also be struggling. Let’s connect: @officialmrskarenstanley!
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