Forgiving someone who has hurt you–especially when that someone is a former spouse–can be one of the most difficult things you’ll ever do. It will also be one of the best things you’ll ever do for yourself. In the process, you’ll learn the most important lesson you need to learn about forgiveness.
The lesson is that forgiveness isn’t about the other person; it’s all about you. As much as you might like to think that holding a grudge and thinking badly about another person will them, that’s not usually the case.
You hold on to hurt and the anger, plotting your revenge, having imaginary conversations with them in your head, and writing scripts of how those discussions will go. You want to lash out and make the other person understand how profoundly hurt you are. You hold all that pain inside, and as it turns out, the only person you’re hurting by refusing to forgive and let go is yourself.
That’s right; the one paying the price is YOU. The other person isn’t feeling your anger and pain. Chances are they aren’t even thinking about what happened that hurt you so much. They’ve moved on, are living their life, and they’re happily oblivious of the pain they are causing you.
Yet you feel like you have to hang on to that pain, hold the grudge–all so the other person doesn’t “win.” Somehow, forgiveness feels weak. You think that if you forgive and move on, you’re giving the other person a pass–but here’s the thing. Forgiveness doesn’t mean you’re letting the person who hurt you get away with something. It doesn’t mean what happened didn’t happen, and the slate is wiped clean. It certainly doesn’t mean you condone their behavior.
When I divorced my first husband, I was consumed with rage and feelings of betrayal at how the marriage had ended. Not only had he been physically violent with me, but I also found out as our divorce progressed that there had been other betrayals. I raged and had many conversations with him in my head in which he begged my forgiveness, and I refused to give it. In my imagination, I turned on my heel and flounced away, leaving him desolate on the floor, weeping because I would not forgive him.
I didn’t understand that I could forgive him without appearing weak, without somehow giving him the idea that what he had done to me was okay and that I had forgotten the pain he caused me.
I spent years consumed by my anger, wondering why he couldn’t understand how much he had hurt me and wouldn’t tell me he was sorry. But he wasn’t suffering. He ultimately remarried and presumably went on to live a life he designed for himself, not giving me another thought, while I was still fuming.
So, who was suffering? ME. Until one day I typed a question into my search engine bar: how can I forgive my ex?
I started on a journey to learn about forgiveness–how to give it and how to receive it–and it changed my life. It enabled me to move on, move beyond events I thought would define me forever.
Forgiving my ex doesn’t mean that what he did to me will ever be acceptable under any circumstances, nor does it mean that I will ever forget how he hurt me.
Forgiveness simply means that you are ready to move on, as I was ready to move on, and build a life without anger and pain defining you.
You need to forgive so you can start to heal. You need to forgive so you can get beyond whatever hurt was done. You forgive the other person so that you are no longer bound to them. You forgive so you can become happy again and focus on the rest of your life.
It’s not going to be easy; forgiveness never is. The greater your pain, the harder the act of forgiving will be, but it is worth it–not because it makes you a better person (although it does) or because it’s the right thing to do (even though it is)–but because in the long run, forgiveness will free you and help you much more than the other person.
Be the stronger person, do the right thing, and practice forgiveness. You’ll be glad you did when that weight lifts off your shoulders, the wounds start to heal, and you get to experience the sweetest revenge of all–living a long and happy life without wasting another thought on the person who hurt you or what they did.
I know I am stronger and happier for having put forgiveness for my ex out into the universe.
Are you ready to forgive someone who has hurt you?