Forgiving, letting go of a grudge, or releasing anger are on the list of things my two Scorpio parents didn't instill in me. The truth is even though my head knows to forgive isn't weak, it sure as hell feels like it is.
It feels like I'll be a fool. That all those strong feelings of hurt won't have mattered, and damnit those feelings were real. I really don't like to be wrong, and if I was already wrong once and foolishly allowed myself to be hurt, and then later I choose to forgive does it mean I was wrong to stay hurt and angry all that time? That's racking up a lot of "wrongs" and I'm not really trying to live like that.
So fear whispers that it would be weak to forgive, that it's foolish, and that to give someone else forgiveness it somehow takes something away from me.
This is what I can't see in myself when I'm in the thick of it. What I have no trouble seeing in others is how much strength there is in forgiveness. That forgiveness is not blind, and can come with boundaries. That forgiveness is not pressing play on a paused relationship, and that you still have the power to change or even not participate in the relationship after forgiveness. To have the courage to say "This is what happened, and this is how I felt about it" is powerful and beautiful.
I once heard forgiveness compared to a giant fishing hook. When you've been hurt that sharp pointy end of the hook goes straight through your middle, hooks you right in your gut. Then you are angry with that person or withhold forgiveness and that person ends up on the hook too right in front of you. It really hurts being on the hook, but the only way to get yourself off the hook is to let them off first.
That sounds awful. That's one of those things when I'm living in it I would roll my eyes at if someone were to tell me. Get out of here with that. But when I'm looking from the outside, I can't help but concede it make sense. I can't think of a time that holding onto hatred or anger has made me feel happy, whole, or gracious. Often times it does feel like a hole right in my gut, and I can't heal when I still have that hook going straight through me.
Forgiveness not indicative of what moving forward will look like; forgiveness is just taking that step forward. You get to decide where you go with it after that step.
Some people see this as quitting, but with the right circumstances I think throwing in the towel and preserving yourself and your sanity is actually the healthy move. The problem is we sometimes tend to take things really personally- I know I do. It's helpful for me to look at it from this perspective- the things not meant for me.
I remember when I was first starting out in the field there was a situation at work that became intolerable for me. I was promised a position and did all the work to live up to that future position, and when it came time for my boss to actually make good on her word she walked her promise back. For those of you who have nightmare work situations with a boss you understand what I mean when I say it took a huge hit to my self esteem and self worth. I was having lunch with a mentor of mine later that month and she said "Molly, this is nothing more and nothing less than a relationship that didn't work out, I think you need a change". At first I felt like I just wasn't being understood, didn't you hear how unfair my situation was? But the more I thought about it the more free I began to feel. It was like magic. I was able to see this discord as a function of the relationship between two co-workers and not a reflection of me as a person. But first I had to choose to let go of the injustice and indignant rage, and decide to see it this other way. Once I did- it was so simple after that. I walked away from that place and never looked back. I landed in the exact right job with the right team and it felt wonderful.
Sometimes I think back to the turmoil of that time- I jumped through hoops to make a situation work and in the end it never could because it wasn't a good match. How beaten down would I have been if I continued to try to make things work there? I think of this piece of advice years later, and it helps me to take the personal hurt feelings out of it- not everything is meant for us, is a good match for us, or is built to work out. Be proud of yourself when you recognize that and have the courage to turn around and find something that does.
In a continuation of this week's theme of rain- I found this gem and had to post. Honoring both is important. I can imagine some of you scrunching up your face in confusion. If the storm that we're talking about here would translate to struggle- why in the world would a therapist tell people to honor the struggle? To see beauty in the storm?
The fact is that the struggle-storm is the birth place of change and growth. With out that storm the rainbow isn't possible. I recently read the book Girl Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis and Rachel framed this in a really simple and clear way. She wonders if instead of thinking that things are happening to you, what if you thought that things were happening for you. When I read it put that way I smiled. To me that is beautiful, and very worthy of honor.
This song somehow made its way into my brain today and I haven't been able to kick it. It's several years out of fashion so I didn't hear it on the radio on my way to work. It's funny how sometimes you just get what you need.
This is something I remind my clients about- that everything good and bad is completely temporary. The good moods, extra cash, free and easy friendships- they all shift and change. It doesn't meant they go away or go bad, but they change. It's one of the reasons I believe people hesitate for going for what they want in life- this idea that it can't actually work out, or won't last. I totally get that feeling- it's scary as hell. But because I'm on an ever-present mission to keep lookout for the good things in my life, I've noticed their patterns and how they work. The wonderful things change and evolve, and yes, at times move away. If you view that as bad news- that "nothing gold can stay" the good news is that nothing bad can either.
Thanks for the universe for sending me this little reminder today!
I'd like to add an amendment to this one- you also aren't defined by the worst thing that's ever happened to you.
This blog is less about my writing, and more about sharing inspiration. I'll post pictures, articles, and videos that I find interesting, moving, or just funny (funny being a loose term here as my humor is generally of the nerdy psychoanalytic variety).