Most people feel that in order to move forward in life in a positive direction, you must forgive. You forgive, not for the other person who hurt, shamed, humiliated, deceived (fill in the blank) you, but you forgive them for yourself so you can move forward. Other peoples' view on this matter is that they can and will forgive but not forget. And some people condone this perspective. Many people feel that, all of the above is necessary. I am not one of those people and I'll tell you why.
Forgiving without forgetting never made any sense to me because when you remember what you were supposed to forget, more often than not, the feeling is still there, and it is back to square one: anger, hate, guilt, sadness, revenge. Those feelings may go away quickly, but nonetheless it is there. Forgiving someone to help yourself feel better makes more sense to me but I’m still not buying it. I believe those people are of certain religious creeds and feel if they do not forgive as their dogma preaches, then they have guilt or fear because they think they will not get into Heaven. I’ve tried all that and none of it works. I think because the word “forgiveness” is misconstrued.
I have had an abundant amount of opportunity over the past year to forgive and forget and nothing I have done has helped me move past. I have been stuck in muck only to have it get thicker, stickier, and constricting. Mostly I feel this has happened because my mind was full of fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of not being good enough. Fear of failure. Fear of not being accepted. Fear that others blamed me for the demise of a family. Those fearful thoughts plagued my body, my sleep, my health & wellness.
Step 1 – Feel Your (Real) Feelings
When I got confirmation that all these fears I had were accurate this past week, I felt hurt, abandoned, and rejected. I allowed myself to feel my feelings and I cried….a lot! I then took action, but I waited two days until I was in a calmer state. I confronted the people that hurt me, (via text), but I did not forgive them. I let them have it. And by that, I mean I told them exactly what I thought of them (without profanity because somehow if people swear, they are viewed as hysterical or unstable), because I had already decided that I was leaving them. I was tired of the gossip, hypocrisy, and most importantly the fakeness.
Step 2 – Delete Button
When I got divorced some 22 years ago, I did not forgive him either. He had done despicable things and I hoped that I could be a fly on the wall anytime something bad happened to him. Once he moved out of the house, I got rid of every single item that reminded me of him. I essentially cleansed myself and my home of him. I did not wish him well, I wished him hell. Then I did all the things I wanted, that I couldn’t do when I was married to him. Soon after I met someone else and I have been married for almost 20 years.
So, this past week I decided to do the same. I divorced some family members. In my farewell letters I did wish them well. Then I cleansed myself and my home of every single item that reminded me of them. I will not be like Michael Corleone and demand to know when they see my mother so I won’t be there. Oh no. I will see my mother when and where I choose. And if they decide to not show up to family events like last Christmas, that’s on them. I’m going to continue seeing my mother.
Divorcing my family has been cathartic. I feel sad at the loss, but I don’t feel miserable like I did before. I don’t have any fear. I am finally out of the muck and able to move on every day happier than the last. If divorcing can be synonymously used with forgiveness (as stated in the Biblical definition) then I guess you can say I forgave. I choose the word divorce instead because for me it means a clean slate. I can start over again.
Step 3 – Choose Your Family
They say, you can’t choose your family. I say, “Oh hell, yes you can!” Now I engage with family members who accept me for who I am and I don’t have to be worried about what I say or do. I have made new friends who worship the authentic me.
Some of us worry so much about whether we piss someone off or hurt them that we turn into this frantic, fragile, and fearsome person. Well, guess what? They are going to blame you no matter what you do so you might as well do what makes YOU feel good. I was blamed for everything and I’m still okay. The only thing is, they can’t hurt me anymore, because what else can they do to me that is as bad as that?
Lovingly let them go and set yourself free!