If you haven't forgiven yourself something, how can you forgive others?

The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.

During this deployment, I am taking the time to focus on bettering myself. I am doing this in different ways. Working on my wardrobe (Yes, I am using the deployment as a reason to shop. Bite me.) Working on my physical appearance and diet, and also working on the inside. One of my goals was to deal with different topics such as today’s topic: Forgiveness.

Now I am attempting to do this, by not only forgiving others and myself, but by seeking forgiveness from those I have wronged. Not quite as easy as one might think. Forgiveness is hard. It is so much easier to hold tight to that anger and pain than to let it go…

So last month, I took the first step in the process. I emailed a person from my past, someone that I had caused a lot of pain in her family. And I simply said that I was sorry for all of the pain and stress that I had caused her and that I appreciated her help in a very painful and trying time in my life.
She responded quickly, and gave me the absolution I needed. I learned that she had never blamed me for the situation and while it was a painful experience, it was no one’s fault and that she had always wondered how I was. It was a very cordial and in ways loving exchange. It was very healing, one more step to closing a dark and painful chapter in my life ten years in the making.  

However, this path to forgiveness has shown me a rather disturbing side of people. The “apologize but excuse” where the person says they are sorry, but makes an excuse for their actions. “I’m sorry I had you stalked. But I needed to know where you were!!!” or “I’m sorry I said that you are a whore, but I stand by what I said” (Yes, an actual apology I was given at one point.)

Never ruin an apology with an excuse.

I’ve also noticed a trend of telling someone you forgive them, to be the “bigger” person. But I wonder if they are truly doing it for the sake of forgiveness…or to one up someone and to get the final word. While forgiving your enemies is one of the best ways to piss them off, it only works if you have really forgiven them.

Revenge, at first thought sweet, bitter ere long back on itself recoils. We’re human; endowed by our creator with an incredibly complex range of emotions. Some of the strongest is that of hatred and anger. Someone will hurt us, and we will feel a deep need to lash back and hurt them. It is our primal nature. It is natural… Some will say they deserve it. If they hurt you so much…if they destroy something you hold dear or take away something you love…they deserve every bit you can throw at them. If you can make them doubt themselves, if you can call them names and tell others how much they are a terrible person…all for the better. 

An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind. While it might make you feel better, it does nothing but give them the power to get to you. If you need to make them feel worse, then have you truly healed?

I am not saying that punishment of all sorts is wrong. If you murder someone, you will face consequences. Break the law and you’ll pay for your crimes.

However, there comes a point when you have to let go. The pain, the anger, the bitterness and the need to exact revenge will only poison you. You have to truly forgive.

I’ve made many mistakes in my life. Some of those have caused me hurt, and some have caused others hurt.
I started this month with the need to seek forgiveness for something I’ve done in the past. Yet when I encountered the person that I had wronged, I realized that they were not over the pain or anger. No matter how much they claimed to be over it, the pain and anger was still there. I realized that the only person’s forgiveness I needed was my own  I had to forgive myself for what I had done and while thinking about it…I realized, I probably would not have changed what I had done. There is only so much abuse you can take from a mistake until you’ve hurt the person so much, they no longer want or need your absolution.

What I did was not great. I will never say that it was something I would condone. However, I am to the point where I no longer care. I paid my price, and I paid that in blood. I cannot keep paying for something simply because someone wants to cling to that pain.

But I realized that I had something to forgive in that situation as well; a betrayal of trust, numerous attacks, and many attempts at character assassination. While I know some of those were committed out of anger and fear, I still stung from them.

I’ve finally let it go. People do shitty things. It happens. But you can either let it tear you apart or you can learn from it, take what you can and leave the rest.

I came searching for absolution, but I found strength to give that to myself and to forgive another for their transgressions.

I have not healed completely. I still carry scars from it. Yet I am able to see past it and to look for the good in the person that hurt me. I am capable of knowing that they do not have the power to hurt me anymore. We may never be friends. I’m still frustrated about some things and I will never forget the pain they are capable of causing, but I am through with fighting. I don’t have time to go through their punishment time and time again especially when there is no way to make up for it. 

So many people have told me to just get over what the person has done.  The situation turned my world around and it gave me so many good things. It has made me stronger and it has made me better. And for that I will forever be thankful.

It taught me things I was never looking to learn and some of those lessons are the exact opposite of what the person was trying to push on me. Yet I’m learning to accept the good in all situations and to not beat myself up for something that gave me so much.

I needed forgiveness, I had no idea what I would get was even greater than that. 


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