Forgive me Father, pastor, vicar, padre, priest…for I have synonymedTim, Lord of puns
Ever had to carry around a really heavy bag? Well, duh, of course you have. Let’s think back to the last time you were at an airport hauling that hefty sack over your shoulder. It’s not those first 5 minutes or so that wear you down, it’s later on. When you’re stuck waiting in queues, when you’re squeezing through a crowd to get to your gate on the other side of the airport, that’s when shit starts to hurt. It’s not the size of the load you carry necessarily, it’s how you carry it, and how long you carry it for.
I will be the first to admit (I say that a lot, don’t I? Yeah, I’ll be the first to admit that) that I had mastered the fine art of holding a grudge. I held a pretty significant one from my early teens to my early 20s, with good reason. But none the less, a time came as I got older when I realised that, while it sometimes felt good in a way to have something to be mad about or someone to be mad at, it really wasn’t getting me anywhere. For the best part of 7-8 years, I carried that grudge, that resentment, on my shoulder. Until one day, I let go.
And boy, didn’t it feel good to let go.
The greatest gift, the greatest service you can do yourself is to forgive those who have done you wrong. And even more importantly, it’s important to forgive yourself for the wrong-doing you have done, as long as you take ownership of it. These were two separate, but very significant lessons I learned making my way (downtown, walking fast, faces pass and I’m home-bound *piano riff*) through my 20s. So let me impart unto you, dear Timmunity, what I came to learn about forgiving others and forgiving myself.
When it came to understanding why I needed to forgive others who had done wrong by me, I realised that it was important I did this so I could take control of the one thing I never thought I would get; closure. We all deserve an apology, or at the very least acknowledgement for when someone has hurt us. But unfortunately, it doesn’t always pan out that way. A lot of things that we deserve, or things that we work hard for may not always come into fruition (for reference, see pretty much every season of Game of Thrones), but it doesn’t mean we can’t create opportunities for ourselves.
Forgiving someone for what they’ve done doesn’t necessarily mean you are pardoning them or excusing their actions. It’s about you and you only, it’s about you allowing yourself an opportunity to move forward. It’s about you saying “I’ve carried the burden of these circumstances for far too long” and deciding to shrug this weight from your shoulders. Sometimes we don’t get the closure we deserve, but we can create closure for ourselves because we deserve to be at peace with our history. The events and the people of our past will only affect us to the extent that we allow them to, and by forgiving what has happened, we acknowledge that we have earned the opportunity to continue to grow without carrying that heavy load with us.
The other significant lesson that I learned is that, for a lot of us, the hardest person on the planet Earth to forgive can be yourself. We’ve all done stupid things over the years, that’s how we learn. But sometimes in the midst of our stupidity we hurt our friends and family. And while it can be tough to admit that to those we wrong, and apologise for it, it’s even harder to apologise to yourself.
It’s no secret that I was in a very damaging relationship a few years ago, not that I blame my partner for what happened. Well, not anymore. I might have for a short time, while I processed it all, but I came to forgive her for her contribution for the breakdown. But it was a long time later that I found it in me to forgive myself. For a long time, I shouldered a lot of the blame for the deterioration of our relationship and for a long time I told myself that there was more I could’ve done to save it. But, the reality of the situation was that I did all I could, and it didn’t work out. But, as I realised, that was okay. It’s okay that things don’t turn out the way we hope, it’s okay if we’ve done all we can, and it is absolutely okay if we can admit that we can’t do it any longer. Forgiving her was a big deal for me, forgiving me was everything.
It’s a lot easier said than done, I know. Sometimes these things take days, sometimes weeks, sometimes years. But that’s okay, there isn’t a right or wrong way of doing things. They say people run their own race, but I’d prefer to consider it a journey. You work at your own pace, you overcome obstacles the best way you know how, but the common denominator is that you will always come out the other side. You, my friend, have gotten through 100% of your challenging times victorious, stronger and even more devilishly handsome than before.
For all the times someone cut in line at the post office, for the times your friends said something hurtful, for the times your partner ate the last cookie in the packet, forgive them. Not for them, for you.
For the times you lashed out at a loved one, for the times you got drunk and called up the wrong person and said the wrong thing, for the times you knowingly ate the last cookie in the packet, forgive yourself. Not for them, for you.
Happy Mental Health Monday.
**I’d love to hear your thoughts friends! Feel free to leave a comment, or flick me a discussion suggestion at my Contact Page!**
I learned that every obstacle is really an opportunityJenna Ushkowitz