Integrating Forgiveness Into Daily Life
The more I integrate forgiveness into my life, the more I recognize it for the multifaceted gem it is. I used to see forgiveness as a one-way energy which I used to un-encumber my own life by releasing old hurts and grievances. I’m starting to realize there are people from my past I’d love to ask for forgiveness.
I realize it isn’t going to change anything in my life or theirs at this point. I simply want them to know how sorry I am for any pain I might have caused in my innocence and ignorance. Somehow, the forgiveness I’ve offered myself in a couple of cases needs an energy I’m unable to give.
I still struggle to forgive people and events from my current life too. It’s an activity which requires constant practice and excessive repetition. Whether it’s the man at the bar who was happy to chat and make false promises (for a dance, not a date) until one of his admirers arrived, and he dismissed me like yesterday’s news; or the woman who blows hot and cold, occasionally making unkind remarks to me or a friend; or a random individual who pushes past me like I’m not there. I know on a conscious level they’re all wrestling with their own demons. Still, there’s a part of me that feels hurt and wants to lash out.
A Fine Line
Instead, I’ve learned to keep my own counsel, if for no other reason than responding in kind will only exacerbate the situation. I’m not looking for a fight, but I don’t allow myself to be mistreated either. I’ve simply learned to remove myself from the offender’s vicinity rather than instigate an unnecessary and unpleasant altercation. Unfortunately, I tend to stew about it for awhile before I finally forgive them a behavior I know came from their own pain, and truly had nothing to do with me. I just happened to be handy at the time.
The things that happen now when I have a better understanding both of myself and human nature are the easy ones. Even people in the last couple of decades who’ve passed through my life, sometimes leaving a scar or two are mostly forgiven and even forgotten. In retrospect, they didn’t really cut deeply enough to be more than a flesh wound to my soul.
What continues to come up with new and different wounds are those which left deep gouges and got stuffed down until I forgot the wounds weren’t self-inflicted. The more I forgive myself those wounds, the more clear the picture becomes. The more clearly I see, the more I find to forgive because I spent so many years lying to myself about the source; the responsible parties.
Understanding Leads to More Forgiveness
Still, forgiveness even of the oldest wounds comes easier with the lessons I’ve learned about why people hurt others. I understand the ones who hurt me most deeply have been the ones who were most deeply hurt themselves.
Which brings me back to a couple of people I wish I could apologize to now, as I hurt them once from my own lack of self-worth and pain. Two of the kindest men I ever dated were part of my college experience.
I met the first one in marching band and we dated for awhile. I even went to his parents’ house for a holiday, only to spend a night and most of a day in abject misery from a horrific case of the stomach flu after a wonderful lobster dinner. I ended up spending most of the night wrapped in a bath sheet on the cold tile floor of the bath attached to our room because the water bed was literally making me seasick. Nevertheless, he was kind and attentive, even moving me to another room and providing the usual anti-nausea crackers and ginger ale while his family completed the weekend with some kind of outing.
When I ended things with him, I gave no reason, nor was I kind. In hindsight, the love he offered was completely foreign to me so I didn’t recognize it as such. I saw his kindness as weakness, as I’d been taught, leaving to seek the kind of character crushing, gut gouging love I’d come to believe was normal.
Leaving Genuine Kindness for a Love I Understood
The second was also kind, caring, and compassionate. Again, I threw his love in his face, disappearing while he was away for two weeks with the ROTC. From him, I ran away to someone who gave me what I recognized; anger, abuse, neglect, and bottled up emotions. It was the beginning of my 20-odd year stretch of emotionally broken, abusive men. There was no doubt in my mind I’d found what I sought. It was what I deserved, but worse, it was what I believed was love.
Leaving that type of relationship was easier than I’d believed, though it’s meant leaving any kind of relationship for the last 20-odd years. I’ve spent the time shattering the old version of me, healing wounds, and learning to forgive myself not only for things I sincerely take ownership of, but for all the things that weren’t my fault, but instead were a matter of circumstance. I came to realize that once I was old enough to choose, most of the abuse I’d suffered was partly my own fault as I’d allowed myself to be treated poorly. That I didn’t know better wasn’t an excuse then, nor do I allow it to be now. I had plenty of examples of better behavior. I chose to ignore or dismiss them.
Choosing Not to Add to the Pain
That I don’t typically make a big deal of it when someone treats me unkindly is no longer a defense mechanism. In learning to pick my battles, I’ve recognized there are people who act contrary to their own character in part because they have yet to learn to forgive themselves. I try to offer them compassion while still keeping my distance so I’m not in range of their emotional fallout.
Don’t get me wrong. I will never stand silent in the face of physical, emotional, or mental abuse of any kind, even though I know they come from a similar place. But unkind words and disrespectful behavior ultimately harm the giver far more than the receiver. I’ll eventually forgive myself for allowing them to get to me, and them for being so broken they have to hurt someone else. I can only hope they’ll eventually recognize what they’re doing to themselves and find a way to heal.
As for those I’ve hurt in my own travels; both recognized and not, I hope their lives have turned out in the best possible way; that they’re happy, healthy, and well loved by people who appreciate the beauty and kindness I could not.
Gratitude: A Close Cousin to Forgiveness
My gratitudes today are:
- I’m grateful for the lessons in forgiveness I’ve learned, and those yet to come.
- I’m grateful for the people who have taught me what love really is…and what love isn’t.
- I’m grateful for the opportunities I’ve been given to learn; to heal; to grow; to love.
- I’m grateful for being able to live the life I choose even if it comes with it’s fair share of struggles at times.
- I’m grateful for abundance; love, forgiveness, kindness, compassion, friendship, community, health, happiness, peace, balance, freedom, philanthropy, and prosperity.
Love and Light
About the Author
Sheri Conaway is a Holistic Ghostwriter, and an advocate for cats and mental health. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward