We’ve all been there at some point in our lives when someone we loved broke our trust and hurt us in a way that changed us forever. You probably never saw it coming. Or maybe you did, but still held out hope, believing that the best in them would prevail. Maybe you hoped that they would change. Maybe even through the pain, you chose to give them another chance, trying your best to make them see that their demons didn’t scare you and you were willing to stand beside them in the fight. But they turned against you and suddenly you were the one they were fighting against. And maybe they took something from you—a little of the spark in you, your ability to trust completely, or a part of yourself that you can never get back.
Regardless of the situation, you were left bruised, wounded, and jaded. Disillusioned, even. And a little confused as well. But through the pain you managed to pick yourself up and piece back the parts of you that were broken. You had to work through the mess of all the hurt and pain and find it in yourself to forgive them for what they had done. Or maybe it’s something that you’re still trying to do. But now they want a place in your life and you’re left wondering what to do.
Your heart is torn because it’s someone you care about and you can’t imagine life without them. But the wiser part of you knows that you cannot trust them and while you can forgive them, you need to let them go. And this is the tough part. They might try to guilt-trip you by telling you that if you truly have forgiven them, you would let them back in once again. Or maybe that’s an argument that you have with yourself. Because you can’t possibly forgive someone but choose to minimize their role in your life, right?
But that’s where they (or you) are wrong. You can forgive someone but choose to move on and not let them hurt you anymore. Especially if they have hurt you before. The hard reality is that some people, even the ones we love, can turn out to be toxic to us. Sometimes they just don’t care anymore and they just want you there because it’s comfortable and convenient. And here’s the thing—you are allowed to walk away from that.
Walking away does not make you weak. It does not mean that you have not forgiven them or that you’re giving up on them. Walking away simply means that your heart has reached its capacity for hurt and now you’re choosing to let yourself heal. It does not mean that you care for them any less. But it does mean that you are choosing to care from a distance. And at the same time, you’re taking the knife out of their hands and taking away their ability to hurt you again.
I’m not going to lie; it’s gonna be tough. They were a big part of your life, and choosing to diminish their role in it will be as hard as losing a limb. It will take a long time to get used to not having such a big part of you there. You will still feel the pain sometimes. And just like losing an arm or leg, you may sometimes reach out for them, only to realize they are no longer there.
But life changes and so do the people in it. Not everyone you start the race with will make it with you till the end. And that’s okay. The people who deserve a seat at your table may change over time as well. And that’s okay, too.
So do your best to patch yourself up as well as you can. Choose to forgive by letting forgiveness flood your soul or by working through each crack and choosing to let it trickle in bit by bit. That is up to you. But don’t feel guilty when you have to let them go. Don’t feel guilty for needing space and distance to heal. And don’t mistake forgiveness with remaining in a situation that robs you of your joy and your soul. Remember that they hurt you, and they do not get to judge you for how you choose to heal.