There are basically two schools of thoughts when it comes to forgiveness. The first one is that it is holy and divine, and we should totally do it. Because we’re nice people. Because we’re supposed to if we’re those nice people we think we are. Because holding grudges is for the Regina Georges of the world or an episode of Gossip Girl.
The second school of thought is that if someone really really fucks you over, you should not forgive them. Not now, not ever. Because they did something awful to you that hurt you really badly. And to remind yourself and them that once upon a time, they behaved horribly and that this is not forgotten.
I understand both, but I didn’t really understand what forgiveness truly was about until someone broke my heart a couple of years ago. While I was getting over it, I convinced myself I should never ever forgive him. In my opinion, there needed to be someone in the world saying “What you did is not okay and I hold you accountable (oh and you’re a dick because of it).” There needed to be a message out in the Universe that wasn’t okay with the way he had treated me. I felt responsible to be that message.
…And then I realized I had more important things to do.
Because forgiving people is not necessarily about them and relieving them of some sort of burden you feel they should have. They might carry that burden with them even when you tell them you’ve forgiven them. They might feel no remorse whatsoever even without your forgiveness. It is not always about them, but it is always about you. Forgiving other people for their mistakes and what they did to you is always best for you, no matter what effect it might have on someone else.
It should be obvious why, but it’s not so let’s talk you through it: You are the one who is most bothered by being angry and vengeful and upset. Nobody else. You. You have to deal with those thoughts, those feelings, that pain. The tightening in your chest whenever you hear their name. That train of thought and those trips down memory lane of how awful it all was. The obsessing and blaming and frustration and anger.
Face it. You are never going to feel your best until you can let go of all that. And even if you feel you have to wait for them to crawl across broken glass and beg for your forgiveness, that moment the forgiveness is still going to have to come from you. But why wait for that moment? It might never come and you’ll be stuck feeling angry and upset. Do you really want that? Why not just cut out the middle man? Why not just do it?
When you let go (or at least work on letting go), that makes you feel better. That makes you lighter, happier. The fact that you‘re going to feel better should be reason enough to practice forgiveness whenever you can.
Do not mistake this forgiveness for that shitty condescending air of “I’ve forgiven you so I am better than you”. That’s not forgiveness, that’s Holier-Than-Thou-But-Secretly-Not-Really. Neither is it the no-backbone ‘it’s okay you treated me terribly let’s just forget about it completely let me get you a sandwich’ type of attitude where you still secretly feel bad, inferior and queazy. That is bullshit.
Forgiveness is ‘hey, you hurt my feelings, I wish you hadn’t, but let’s get past it for the sake of our lives’. Forgiveness is loving yourself enough to let yourself be happy, no matter what someone else might have done in your past. You’ll really be happier when you let go of grudges, forgive the ones who have hurt you and if you can, appreciate what you learnt from them.
There is more to life than standing around with a red sign over your head saying “MY EX WAS A DICK TO ME AND THAT IS NOT OKAY .” Or “THAT ONE GIRL I MET THAT ONE TIME IS SECRETLY A TOTAL BITCH AND THAT IS NOT OKAY”. You can calm the fuck down, just say ‘that really was not okay’ and still just move on. Because just like me, you have more important things to do than to be mad.
Forgive for you. Because it is good for you. Because it let’s you move on and because it makes you feel happy. Because it focuses you on your future, the positive things in your life. You’re not living this life for anyone but yourself, and the world does not need you plotting revenge because someone stabbed you in the back. The world needs you to be your most wonderful self. And if I can hardly combine it with a social life & laundry, I am pretty sure you won’t be able to balance that shit with your personalized WWIII. So let go. Choose forgiveness.