Forgive, as defined by Merriam Webster:
: to stop feeling anger toward (someone who has done something wrong) : to stop blaming (someone)
: to stop feeling anger about (something) : to forgive someone for (something wrong)
Full Definition of FORGIVE
b : to grant relief from payment of <forgive a debt>
I have always had a hard time with the notion of forgiveness. It has always meant to me that when someone has wronged me, that I have to forgive them in order to move on. It is easy to forgive someone when they feel genuine sadness for their actions, regardless if their actions were purposeful or not. When they feel sad about the effects of their actions, then I feel as though I have been paid retribution for their negative actions. This doesn’t mean that I am willing to move into “bestie” mode with them, but at least I can allow the resentment and anger to flow away, so I can move on. What happens though when there is no remorse or sadness from the perpetrator? How can we move on when we are carrying around the trauma from the violation? Are we to just ‘forgive’ the person that caused us pain? If we ‘forgive’ them, does this mean that they are absolved of the violation? How do we even move from anger and resentment to… forgiveness…
It’s important to work through self-exploration around the violation. When I say this, I don’t mean that you have to re-traumatize yourself over and over again by going through the details of the incident. What I do mean is that I am inviting you to see how your life has changed from the trauma, the incident. Ask yourself, if you could start with one behaviour that you really dislike doing now that is a direct result of the incident, what behaviour is that and how can you change it? Ask yourself how that negative behaviour serves you? Is it reasonable to keep this negative behaviour with you? What can you do to change it?
Once you go through that process, the next challenge is to follow through with your intention of changing the behaviour. Sometimes this means that you have to encourage yourself to keep trying, like a good friend would. Sometimes this means removing a negative behaviour and injecting a positive one in that benefits you. Other times this means reminding yourself that the person who violated you is not allowed to be in your space anymore. Their presence through the incident that violated you or traumatized you is not allowed to occupy your head anymore. It’s all about taking back what is yours, your power, your life.
You may also want to remember that your process of letting go of negative behaviours does not run in a linear fashion, you will often go back and reassess your intentions and behaviours for change. It is a process, not a step by step climb that doesn’t require you to look back. Be easy on yourself. Most of all, remember that it isn’t about forgiving the one who has violated you, it is about allowing yourself to not be caged in the prison that you keep yourself in, as a result of that person’s poor behaviour over you. Honour yourself and be kind. Love yourself enough to move forward through this process, so that you may make it a memory one day.