Ego Reflections: On Forgiveness

This is my open letter/note/reflection on what I have learned about forgiveness. If there is a God and there is a ‘plan’ then this last year and a half showed that it all does exist.

This past year and a half was a trying, aching, emotional time. I lost my grandmother, whose influence in my life is still unmatched to this day because she was my best friend and one of the greatest relationships I have ever had. Her death changed my life, we never got to say goodbye and I dread the day when I have to feel again the pain when my mother called me to tell me she passed away. Thereafter, I made some very poor life choices and hurt those people closest to me because I was selfish and immature. I continued to do reckless things under a guise of  thinking that I was in control of myself and of my life when really I was spiraling out of control. Then as things started to run away from me, I ran away from another important relationship–allowing my head to take over my heart–allowing my ego and my pride to stand in the way of protecting my own.

Soon after, the people in my life whom I thought were trustworthy turned their backs on me. Well, I thought they did. But I soon realized that they never had my back in the first place. That they were just as bad as anyone, just as bad as me at the time, and that what I was taking as good, insightful information that would better me was just a bunch of bs from people looking out for their own interests even if that meant destroying me and watching me destroy someone else.

At some point everything collided and I came to a realization in the midst of feeling terrible about myself and the relationships I had left, that in order to move forward and work toward a better me I had to start the process of forgiving. I had to forgive my family for not telling me my grandmother was sick and in the hospital until they called me to tell me she died. I had to forgive the people around me who treated me without empathy, with complete hypocrisy and who looked away from me when I needed them the most. I had to forgive myself for hurting someone who I loved in the very same way, without even knowing it. Last, I had to forgive myself for hurting me, for neglecting me when I needed me, and for allowing others to treat me like crap because I was doing the same thing to myself.

So where did I begin? How did I begin? Well, it’s an ongoing process. It doesn’t just change over night. The feelings don’t start to feel better or wear away immediately. I thought that the first step to feeling better about myself was abuot being positive and trying to forgive those around me who had wronged me, but it is deeper than that. I soon realized that I can’t begin to forgive others for anything until I face myself and admit how much I hurt myself first. Part of forgiving others is recognizing what others have done to hurt you and being able to look past it. But how could I do that until I knew exactly what I did to myself to cause some of the things that others did to me? How could I do that before I separated out what was my fault from what was the fault of others?

That took a while, by the way. Up until a few months ago I was doing it all wrong and it was making me feel terrible. I realized that I was doing it wrong when I noticed that I was trying to win back the people who had hurt me because I had so called “forgiven them” when really I needed to forgive myself first for even allowing people like that to domineer my life.

And once I started to forgive myself, I felt good. I felt like the weight was lifted away from my shoulders and I felt comfortable doing what I needed to do next and that was apologize to the person who I shut out, who knew me the best, who was just trying to make it through the day like me, who never would have treated me the way I treated her, who never would have intentionally treated me the way other people in my life intentionally treated me thereafter and who was going through some some stuff and just needed her person.

It’s funny how when you lose everything–your bestfriends, your identity, your pride and your sense-of-self–everything seems to settle and all of a sudden you actually have nothing to lose anymore. And then it becomes incredibly easy to just admit your wrongs and to turn back around and forgive yourself and ask for forgiveness.

Losing ‘everything’ in my limited, first world problems kind of way helped me to evolve from the proud, indignant person I used to be into someone who I like. Getting my head out of my ass and willingly putting my heart on my sleeve has been the best thing I could have ever done for myself. In forgiving myself I’ve learned to follow my heart. When the storm settled and I saw things the way they really were I knew exactly what had to be done.

So now I’m on the healing journey. I’ve done my forgiving but now I’m trying to heal and evolve the relationships that mean the most to me. Trying to revive relationships with people who had my back even though I turned my back away from them.  I’m learning to stick up for my heart, to speak up for myself and to cherish the loyalty of the people who want me in their lives.  Most importantly I’m learning that being good to people, being nice to people and not wishing ill on anyone no matter how wrong they are, how much they have hurt you, or how badly they treat you, is the best thing you can do for a person. Chances are they are in the same dark place I have been over the last year and a half, and chances are they need someone to empathize with them, to tell them to cut the crap–yes, but to not turn on them. They need a friend. They need a person.

And that’s forgiveness. Forgiveness is a process and it starts with the self.

-P

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