There are many reasons that people decide not to forgive. I can name at least 10 reasons why not to forgive someone, but what are the reasons to forgive? In my early twenties, I held grudges and now I am in my thirties and I realized today after a brief conversation with my mother that I am still not mature as I portray to be. If I were mature, I would let go of the resentment and disgust I feel towards some of my transgressors. Forgiveness is what I thought I had accomplished years ago because my definition of forgiveness was disconnecting and indefinitely ignoring the other person. Until today I did not realize that I am technically just pushing the problems and issues under the rug by pretending as if the person or the actions that were done does not exist.
The truth is that forgiveness is not easy, and it takes a strong individual to release and truly let go of the hurt someone has caused them. I believed that removing a person from my life and pretending that he or she did not exist was forgiveness, but instead I was harboring anger, animosity, and negative thoughts that are not good for my emotional or mental health. There has been some trauma in my life, and I have accepted the trauma, and I am in therapy to assist with the healing, but I have not forgiven the people that caused the trauma. My mother who is in her late 60’s said it was not until her 40’s that she started to forgive her transgressors and no longer allowed them to live “rent-free” in her thoughts. She told me in her 40’s she understood more that people can make mistakes and that forgiving them was for her, not for them.
Since I am now in my 30’s I have thought more about my future. Although I have come far in my trauma recovery process there is still a lot more growing and healing that I need to do. For me, the hardest part is the memories of my trauma, and I normally connect the memories with the individual or event that caused the trauma. Today I would like to accept that “I was assaulted, I was abused, I was manipulated, & I was not in control of what happened. All those things I “was” but I can say today I am ready to not live in my past trauma anymore. Sweeping my trauma under the rug is not the answer, which is why I attend therapy and talk about the effects of my trauma when I need to. Today I would like to start the healing process and part of that is acknowledging the who, what, when, where, & why of my trauma. Once, I have acknowledged my trauma and the person and events that caused it I would like to officially stop allowing my transgressor to “live rent-free” in my head.
Until today, I was not aware that holding on to anger towards someone, even if I did not release it towards them meant I was allowing them to have control over my life. I will not live the next 10 years of my life pretending that someone did not hurt me, and pretending I am healed because I ignored them. Therapy is working, but therapy is a marathon, and it takes time to make progress. Practicing forgiveness will take time and effort on my part. Over the years I have not put any effort into forgiveness, but now I feel more ready than ever, because if I am being truly authentic, I can admit I have cried over people that have hurt me since I cut them off, and I have asked myself why they did this or that. I also have blamed myself for my trauma. The cycle of being okay, then going through a spiral of hate or negative emotions and thoughts about my past has happened consistently over the last fifteen years of my life.
Kathi Norman said it best “Failing to forgive, or unforgiveness is the practice of engaging in ruminative thoughts of anger, vengeance, hate, and resentment that have unproductive outcomes for the ruminator, such as increased anxiety, depression, elevated blood pressure, vascular resistance, decreased immune response, and worse outcomes in coronary artery disease. Practicing forgiveness enables the transgressed individual to reduce their engagement in rumination thus reducing their experience of anger, resentment, and hate. Forgiveness, then, is a pathway to psychological well-being and health outcomes” (Kathi Norman). Depression is hard, anxiety is hard, PTSD is hard, but adding mental health issues on top of failing to forgive can be damaging to your mental health and not forgiving has damaged my mental health for the last 15 years. I am now aware what the “lack of forgiveness” can do to my mental health. To prevent mental stress I am committed to working towards forgiving my transgressors, but I will start with forgiving myself. The years of blaming myself and self-sabotaging myself are over. The healing must first start with me! I wrote this blog because I was not aware until this morning that I had been harboring some terrible feelings and thoughts for a long time. There has been enough hurting, enough sadness, enough, and enough tears over things that I cannot control. I had no control over the traumas I experienced, but I have control over how I decide to handle the healing and growing process after the trauma.
Forgiveness will not happen overnight! There will be good & bad days. My goal now is to write down those negative feelings, allow myself to feel them, and then release them. I no longer want to harbor anger and hate in my heart. If you are dealing with forgiveness issues I hope that you find peace as well. The only way we can grow in life is by moving upward. To move upward we must first accept our past and allow ourselves to heal! How are you healing and growing through your trauma? Comment below or head over to The Pearl Blog Facebook Page and join The Pearl Blog Mental Health Forum.
Resources on Forgiveness:
Kathi Norman article: Forgiveness: How it Manifests in our Health, Wellbeing, and Longevity
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