I’ll come right out and say that a fair amount of people have fucked me over in this lifetime—and no, it’s not my entire narrative, but when it happened, it was real. I bet it is for you, too. And among all those people who spoke unspeakable words to you—the ones who did irrevocable actions to you—the ones who thought you were lower than shit and wanted you to believe it—the person who has to deal with the consequences is, of course, you. Where’s the justice in that?

Yet, my friends, we know that healing is rarely about justice. We know that people who should have shitty karma still win the lottery and get promotions. We know there are kinds of pain that can’t even be articulated or properly advocated for—and sometimes people still won’t validate our pain. And while we sit here waiting for our wronged ones to “get what’s coming to them,” we are festering anger and ignoring self-care. That just won’t work.

One of my favorite angel cards is Doreen Virtue’s forgiveness card. When it appears in one of my readings, I giggle guiltily because it means I’m being stubborn about a person or a situation, preparing my defenses for why I will not, under any circumstances, begin closing the circle with someone. Then I read her words: “Forgiveness does not mean, ‘What you did is okay to me.’ It simply means, ‘I am no longer willing to carry around pain in response to your actions.’”

I don’t mean to minimize the extraordinarily courageous effort it takes to forgive someone, but I absolutely mean to say forgiveness is necessary in time. In the context of severity, our rational mind may help us realize sooner than later that the offense doesn’t justify the toxic energy we’re carrying by preserving the anger. In some cases the offense seems unforgivable, so time helps us assess the damage and build ourselves back together. Maybe it will take weeks or months or years, but forgiveness will always help.

I think about the people I’ve forgiven. Often they don’t even know it; hell, often they’ve never asked for it, and I come to terms with the fact that I’ll never get the apology I deserve. In my brave choice to move on, I release their presence from my life with a big breath in and a big breath out. Then you’re gone forever, boo. I’m no longer a victim. You no longer hold the power over me that makes me lose sleep over the words you said. Instead, I thank you for helping me be a strong ass motherfucker, then shove you back into the universe far away from me, cheers with my closest friend with a wine glass, and begin the new normal.

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