There are two people, currently active in my spheres, that I am very angry with. One of them, Blowhard, has been abusive to a very dear friend of mine. The other, Nina, was abusive to me.
I am not going into what Blowhard did; as I said, his actions were against my friend, not me. But he is pretty high on my shit list, because he caused my friend deep and abiding pain, and I had to witness it. The situation was fairly complicated, because people are complicated, but at the end of the day I just don’t like him, because of the choices he made.
As for Nina, at first I thought she was simply incompetent. I suppose it’s because I have a trusting nature– everyone has their blind spots, I suppose– but when I first started dealing with her, I thought that since she had a responsibility to me that she would honor it. I was wrong. Slowly it dawned on me that the actions she took, the choices she made, were not out of ignorance, or even just the result of a bad day, but were in fact deliberate and malicious in intent.
There was a time when I thought I had the patience of a saint. You could push me and poke me pretty damn far before I’d pop. Those days are far behind me. I have limits, and I know it. It still takes quite a bit to push me past my limit; the problem is that once my line has been crossed, it is very, very difficult to get on my good side ever again. In fact, I can only think of one person who has crossed that line, whom I have fully forgiven and still have a decent relationship with.
That’s…not a very good track record. Oh, I have forgiven people after they have left my sphere (or I theirs.) I have used my hindsight goggles to better understand crappy situations, to gain perspective, and as Elsa says, Let it go. But that has always been after, not during the situation.
So here I am, carrying this rage around with me for people who truly couldn’t care less what I think of them. Rage causes all sorts of physical and emotional problems, not to mention spiritual ones. And the worst part is that it causes problems for me, but doesn’t do a thing to them.
When you think about it, choosing to keep that rage is just silly. It does nothing for me, it does nothing to them, and it worsens my health. So I am choosing to forgive them, not because they do or don’t deserve my forgiveness, but because I do.
This does not mean that I will automatically trust either of them ever again. I now recognize who they are and what sorts of decisions and choices they make. I know that Nina and Blowhard have it in them to dismiss certain responsibilities and to be viciously cruel. I will no longer trust them to uphold those responsibilities, and I will no longer allow myself near enough them emotionally that they can take the opportunity to be cruel to me.
Forgiveness is as much about me recognizing these things as it is about releasing my anger. It is not about changing them (I can’t anyway), and despite what the adage says, it is not about forgetting. It is about releasing the hurt and the anger, letting them go live their lives, while I live mine without the poison of rage hurting me.
As I said, I’ve been through this process once before, so it’s a little– not easier, but I know where the bumps in the road are from last time. The first step is to decide to do it. This can take a long time or a short time, depending on how intent all your Selves are on this idea. (You know: “A part of me likes the idea, but another part of me thinks I should throw them out the first window I can find.”) During this step, I generally need to process and remind myself to stop reminding myself of all of their various nastinesses. Finally, once I’ve gotten over the idea of carrying the hurt and anger, I can decide fully to forgive each of them. And in that moment, it is done. It really is that easy.
And that hard.
I’m still in the process of reminding myself not to remind myself. Maybe tomorrow I’ll decide fully. Today, at any rate, I am In Progress.