“Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” – Buddha
I used to have this so called friend who literally put a threat on me and my families lives while he was “intoxicated”; this being at a point and time when I was living an “unsavory life” to say the least. When he was sober he pretended to not remembered what he had said or done the day prior, yet I could see in his eyes that he knew there was a cold tension between us that he had caused. Nevertheless I continued to hang out with him thinking it would solve the problem. Anytime I was around him I felt uneasy and tense, my intuition was telling to get out of there; but I couldn’t, see I had been taught to forgive and forget. I thought I already had the forgiveness part down since I was still willing to stick around him, but to forget was close to impossible for the same reason. Long story long I ended up finally cutting ties with him completely after this thing called common sense kicked in. All along I was afraid of seeming disloyal for doing so, this was at a time when I did not understand the concept of cutting certain people out of my life in order to grow. Nevertheless I was still doing such things as checking up on him, looking at his social media, and other things that sill tied me to him; yet I wondered why I could not stop thinking of revenge, and getting even. These thoughts only dissipated after a year or so when I had let him go completely without an ounce of guilt or remorse. This was the first time in my life I had learned the true meaning of forgiveness, and this version had no fairytale endings.
Giving Is Hard To Do
When you see somebody in the street who is in need, you are more than willing to give them that extra change in the cup holder of your car. When you see a friend who is going through a rough patch, you are more than ready to give them an ear to listen, and a healthy dose of “judgment free” advice.
In fact on a daily basis you continuously give those around you advice, money, food, gifts, money, time, a helping hand, attitude, motivation, MONEY, and any other tangible and none tangible thing you can thing of; and usually you give these things without a second thought.
Ironically the least given thing within not just your own life, but all of humanity happens to have the word give in it….I’ll give you a hint as to what it is; it starts with for, and ends with GIVE (ness). Yes forgive (ness); that word you heard repeated in your Sunday school classes, but never saw in practice outside of those church doors.
The one piece of advice that everybody gives, yet most seldom follow is exactly that. Forgive. And believe me when I say that I have struggled with those more than anything else in my life. It would be easier for me to give away a million dollars to a stranger, than let go of what somebody I trusted did to me.
If your mind works anything like mine you might be working why is it even necessary to forgive, and where would I even begin?….Yes, and right here.
Now I’m no fan of forgetting everything that has been done to you. Remembering something will usually give us great indicators as to when it might happen again, otherwise known as red flags, but I am a full endorser of the medicine that is forgiveness. The only problem is we have been sold a diet version of forgiveness, a synthetic, and none realistic version that does not work in any situation.
Forgiveness has been presented to us as this sort of “short term memory loss” in which we try to pretend our way through a transgression instead of facing it head on and cutting the problem from the root.
Here are a few examples of the types of things that are associated with this type of false “forgiveness” we commonly see.
- Remaining in contact with the person that hurt us
- Pretending to trust those who broke our trust
- Looking for an apology
- Spending time with somebody that violated us
Frenemies, we’ve all had them, or might have even been one at some point. They laugh at us when we mess up, give us backhanded compliments, make us feel bad about being offended by their sly remarks, and they love to drain every ounce of positive energy we still have.
They are the person we spend time with, but are not fully comfortable around; nor would we trust them to watch our pets over the weekend. Most frenemies are a side affect of fake forgiveness.
When we have been wronged, backstabbed, or have reason not to trust somebody we will usually internalized whatever they did instead of confronting the issues. This leaves a sort of tension between you and your so called friend that cannot be laughed, or vacationed away.
The only reason you even stay around this person is because you have been told to forgive them for what they have done, so the little you is doing his/her very best to be the bigger person in that situation, and just stick it through.
We are often made to feel guilty for cutting people out of our lives completely, and it is seen as an act of anger of bitterness. Yet in reality when yoy remain friends with somebody you are not truly friends with, then and only then can there actually be a bitterness between you.
Much like the process of getting over an ex, getting over a dead friendship requires full disconnection from that person.
Now you’re probably thinking to yourself, “why do I feel hatred for them even when they are aren’t around me? what would cutting them off do to change that?”
Well, the only reason that you feel this hatred against them is because you still see them as a part of your life. If you viewed this person as nothing but a life lesson, or somebody who was there for a brief moment as a none example then it will become much easier to actually let go of what they did to you, and eventually letting go of them; and by letting go I mean acknowledging you were wronged, but being able to keep your heart open to trust again.
It is easy to fall into the mindset of never wanting to let anybody else into your life; which was something that happened to me. I didn’t know who was and was not a friend so I kept them all at a distance, and it came at a price of a deep seeded depression.
Instead look at what they did to you as an isolated incident that does not define you nor the rest of mankind, and from there on you can know what to look out for while also having an open heart towards those who are true friends.
Some people have a very different view point compared to my own when it comes to cheating. Some believe that you can have a healthy, and trust filled relationship after an infidelity; I am not one of those people.
I believe that once somebody breaches that trust it becomes close to impossible to repatch it. This however does not mean that we must hold onto our bitterness, while plotting on a revenge against those that have breached our trust like some type of corny super villain.
Forgiveness in this format is not staying in the relationship, nor is it making your partner a mortal enemy as some of us may do; forgiveness in a trustless situation is letting that person go completely, admitting that they wronged you, but not letting their own character flaws dictate your own.
We will go to friends for advice about a cheating partner, and will either heard “F them, they didn’t deserve you anyway, you should scratch their car up and steal their dog”, or ” you know they have a good heart, they just messed up, everybody messes up sometimes. Just give them a chance” (I hope you have friends like the first example)…I digress.
Much like staying with a “friend” who hurts you, remaining in a relationship where you have no trust will only eat you up. You won’t be able to help but think about their whereabouts, whether they are out cheating or not, and if every other person they come in contact with may be the next to replace you. You will become consumed with paranoia, and resentment.
Yet leaving them, while still entertaining the idea of hurting them will do just as much damage to your psyche as staying in the first place.
You must make the concise decision to forgive but never forget. Erase that person from your physical world as much as possible after confronting the issue. Do not look for them to change; it is a lost cause. Do not give them so much headspace that you cannot live you own life without them being a key factor that determines your actions.
These trust issues can be not confined to intimate relationships for they can occur between family, friends, co-workers, and business partners alike. Regardless of the type of relationship you are in you must set boundaries for yourself, and from those boundaries dictate what you will and will not accept.
One of the toughest parts of fully letting go is the simple fact that it usually does not come with an apology attached to it. Most of the time all we are looking for is a sincere apology, and that alone will satisfy us.
Well do I have some news for you; see an apology is something that can be repeated a million times over and so is the same action that lead to it.
To want the same person who caused you pain to be the same person who heals you is to wait on the Easter bunny; prepare to wait for an eternity. You do not go to the doctor to fix your broken leg because she was the one who broke it, you go to her because she has the tools to do so.
And the fact of the matter is, you are the only one who has the tools to heal you. Only you can chose to let somebody toxic out of your space, and live a life of learning lessons instead of collecting baggages. Only you can chose whether to let be, or let bleed.
When you hold onto bitterness and anger towards somebody in your heart, it is not they who feel that pain, only you. They are not the one suffering sleepless nights, and waking up in cold sweat; they are not the one cry themselves into a shallow pool, deep enough for the kids to swim in, because of the hurt; it is you who is suffering. Therefore it is only you who has the remedy
You cannot rely on an apology to be the determining factor of whether you let go and forgive, or not, it must already be in your nature to want to do so. After all, as the old saying goes “forgiveness is for you, and not the other person.”
Let in the Antidote
As the 21 Century Urban philosopher Travis Scott once said, “don’t you open up that window, don’t you let out that antidote”. In the case of forgiveness however it is necessary to “open up the window” in order to let the antidote in.
You must break down the walls that guard your heart in order to “un-trap” yourself from bitterness, and anger. Forgiveness only comes from letting things off of your chest, clearing your mind, and opening up your heart again.
It has nothing to do with letting those who hurt you back into you lives, and more to do with how you interact with the world around you after you are faced with a situation in which somebody has breached you trust.
We all know that holding on to anger brings grief, and is a toxin within itself therefore there is no need for me to explain why it is so necessary. we have also heard that forgiveness is the one thing that can cure this ailment, and fight off the infection that is resentment, but it is key for us to understand what true forgiveness looks like.
When we see forgiveness for what it truly is it becomes much easier for us to act upon it. It is much similar to walk away from somebody and admit that you no longer want to be involved with them, than it is to put on a fake smile everyday while your mind conjures up different ways of getting even with the person that you claim to have forgiveness.
So do yourself a favor today, and see if you have truly let go, and forgiven.
So tell me, have you truly forgiven, or are you still holding on?