At 23, I thought I understood forgiveness. In its most simplistic form; someone says “I’m sorry” after doing something wrong. You accept the apology and return to life as it was before. Forgiveness was easy.
Forgiveness was easy.
I’ve come to find when you don’t forgive; you rot. For several months, after a string of callous events that questioned a former partner’s fidelity, I felt karma had not adequately served those who had wronged me. So for some delusional reason, I spent an abundant amount of energy being angry. If I couldn’t hold onto the thing I loved, I would hold a grudge. Maybe subconsciously I thought my emotions were contagious, and that my “traitors” would hurt in the same way I was if I kept stewing. They didn’t. While I grew bitterer, they basked in the heap of their indiscretions, happily. And the bitterness acted as carbon monoxide; odorless, tasteless, and slowly killing me.
I became someone I didn’t recognize, someone I didn’t like. I had to stop wanting and waiting for karma to act as some sort of forceful and ruthless vigilante. After all, life doesn’t keep score so why was I? In order to breathe new life and move on, I realized I had to…just forgive.
You have to forgive those who don’t even apologize. Perhaps they’re not remorseful or too prideful to beg for your forgiveness, but they do deserve it. (Note I say they deserve your forgiveness and not a second chance.) I had to forgive my enemies because, well, they were going to move on with their lives regardless to if they had it or not, and I might as well have tamed my demons and healed my wounds in the process. Forgiving them gave me a sense of control I felt I had lost in the whole affair. Forgiving them reminded me I can still determine my future and my happiness, and that it does not lie in the success or failure of their ill-timed relationship. Perhaps I will never see revenge or an apology, but I have things much more valuable; dignity and peace of mind.
The hardest person to forgive, I learned, is yourself. I condemned myself for months. When I looked in the mirror, I saw a reflection of my naïveté, weaknesses and embarrassment. I was so angry for allowing someone to treat me like this and getting away with it. I kept thinking of how stupid I must look to the two of them, and to everyone around me. Eventually, I alleviated the ridicule by forgiving my faults and promising to be smarter, wiser and stronger from that day forward. And sure, there are still days I have to apply particular affirmations like a moisturizer, but I no longer condemn myself. I am no longer an embarrassment to myself or to my traitors.
In order to forget someone, to forget the pain, to forget about all the months of anguish; we must forgive.
At 23, forgiveness is not so simple. The two common syllables squeezed between the short words don’t mean much, if they are even heard at all. After someone close to you has betrayed you, life never quite returns to how it was before. At 23, I’m learning forgiveness is hard but necessary.