For so long you’ve defined yourself as the woman who cares, the woman who puts others first, the woman who ‘fixes’ people, who loves with all she has and is constantly guided by her big heart. You’ve been conditioned that to get through pain and to keep relationships and people happy, you must be willing to forgive mistakes, let the past go, and love without conditions. You’ve been wrapped in unhealthy connections for so long, you’ve allowed others to walk all over you in the name of love.
But in the back of your mind, you know better.
In the back of your mind, you know you’re being taken advantage of. You know that sometimes people hurt you simply because you allow them to, because you give them infinite opportunities to start over, and to hurt you again.
You know that your heart has been given to the wrong people, simply because time and time again, they’ve shown you that you’re not a priority. Yet, you struggle to detach because you’ve forgiven that person so many times, what’s one more? ‘They’ll change this time’—haven’t you told yourself that line before?
But forgiving someone who has no desire to change or to love you the way you need to be loved is not healthy. Being in a relationship with someone whose behavior, decisions, or actions continually bring you unhappiness and harm is abuse, not love.
You’ve lived the better half of your life putting others before yourself. When someone pushed you down, you forgave them, without question. When your significant other cheated, you gave him another chance. When someone walked out of your life, then later wanted to return, you opened the door.
And first, you must know that this isn’t necessarily bad, it’s just not healthy. Not when the behavior continually repeats itself. And not when there’s no true remorse or amends made to fix your broken heart.
You are the woman who forgives, who loves, who cares unconditionally. There is nothing wrong with that; in fact, your forgiving heart is beautiful. But you must also protect yourself, too.
There comes a time when your selflessness, when your second and third and fifteenth chances are only burdening you and breaking you down. There comes a time when the love you give is not inspiring someone to improve their own heart; it is simply enabling them to continue to hurt you.
And you don’t deserve that pain.
The world looks at women like you with disgust sometimes. People shake their heads, judge from the outside looking in and say that a woman who forgives her man for leaving, who cares for a backstabbing friend, or who takes back a bad boyfriend is weak.
You are not weak, though. You are strong for letting go of pain, strong for loving people despite their mistakes, strong for giving people chances, strong for knowing that we are all imperfect and sometimes we mess up.
Where you lose your strength is not in the act of forgiving, but when forgiveness comes without change. When you let someone in who isn’t truly sorry for breaking your heart. When you allow someone another chance who does not deserve it because he/she doesn’t really care, or has every intention to hurt you again.
And in these moments of realization—when you’re standing in front of the mirror, looking into your teary eyes, when you see a shady text message on his phone, when you catch someone lying behind your back, or when you know, beyond a doubt, that things won’t change—that’s when you must have the courage to forgive and to leave.
Sometimes people can’t love you the way you love them.
And sometimes you forgive people who might not be worthy of that kindness yet. That’s no reflection on you. You just have to learn to take better care of your heart. You just have to understand that you are not a weak, pathetic person, but a strong one who needs to know her worth.
Don’t change who you are or the way you love, but do start giving chances to the right people. Start putting energy into relationships that build you and significant others who see the wonderful person you are and won’t fall short of giving you the love you deserve.
Start putting yourself first, and forgiving your own heart for the way you’ve let it be trampled upon by people who didn’t have your best interests in mind. Start learning that it’s okay to forgive people, but not okay to let them hurt you, over and over again.
Start loving yourself with the same tenacity and capacity you keep giving to everyone else.