Forgiving the loved ones who hurt us
Forgiveness is one of the hardest skills to learn. When people hurt us, forgiving is the last thing we would want to do, we normally prefer revenge instead. It’s terrible when a random person hurts us, but it seems unforgivable when a person we love and trust hurts us.
Like many, I’ve been badly hurt by a relationship. For so long, I’ve put the blame on the person who hurt me. “It’s his fault”, I would say to myself. “I’m the victim, he’s the butcher. His actions hurt me, he did not protect me. If he was different, I wouldn’t have suffered”.
But this thought did not make me feel any better. For many months I have felt a victim, incapable of regaining my strength and moving on. I thought: “When I’ll get an apology, I will be able to forgive”. But the apology never came, because sometimes people do not see how badly they hurt us, thus do not think they owe us an apology.
Who do we really need to forgive?
In my recovery I’ve slowly come to a scary realisation: yes, that person hurt me badly. But there is a person who hurt me more: and it was myself. By not protecting myself, I hurt myself more than any other person can possibly do. By putting myself in a complicated, messy and painful situation, I’ve been my own butcher.
Ultimately the other person is just playing his part in this world, following his own path. And his interests might not be the same as your interests. A thief is stealing because in that moment of his life this is the best he can do. His interest is to survive, not to protect you. It’s your responsibility to protect yourself, as it’s his responsibility to survive. Ideally, each of us can go through life without hurting others, but when this is not possible then you need to protect yourself first. Like they teach you on airplanes, put your own mask first before helping others. Failing to do so, means to become your own butcher.
I failed to protect myself, even if my intuition told me it was a negative situation. And in doing so, I became the one who let me down. That was the most painful realisation.
Let’s think of love as food for our soul. As in stores you can find organic food and junk food, so you do with love. You can find organic love, the type that nurishes you and makes you grow stronger, and you can find the junk love, the type that drains you. It’s up to you to choose the food you want to eat, and it’s also up to you to choose what kind of love and what kind of relationships you want to have in your life.
Junk food will always be available and (surprise surprise) will always be the cheapest type. So are junk relationships. They are abundant, they’re everywhere, and they’re cheap. You cannot blame junk food for being there, and you cannot blame junk relationships for existing either. People who bring junk relationships in your life are maybe just acting out their own problems, only God knows, but you can always turn your back to them and move away from them. If we stick with them, then we cannot blame the other person for bringing a sick relationship in our life: we must see that we played a mayor part in our own suffering, because we stayed in this not-nurturing relationship out of our free will.
So the person I really had to forgive for hurting me was not my ex, but myself for choosing something negative and staying there for so long.
The priviledge of Responsibility
So suddenly I started to feel the weight of responsibility. If I could not blame it on the other person anymore, did it mean what happened was my responsibility? That made me feel even worse, because it was so much easier when I could simply blame it on someone else and think “I cannot have a closure until I get an apology, and I’ll not get an apology until he’ll realise it was his fault”.
It was terrible to realise I had the responsibility of my own happiness or lack thereof, and that it did not matter whether the other person apologised to me or not. They might never realise that they hurt you, they might never take responsibility for the suffering they caused you. But you can still take responsibility for the suffering you caused yourself, and apologise to yourself for not having your back.
Then with the fear also came emotional empowerment. I started to see responsibility as a priviledge rather than a burden. If I was responsible for choosing what’s bad, it meant I was also able to step out of the victim role and choose what’s good. And for the first time I saw responsibility as a priviledge, the priviledge to choose what’s good for myself, the priviledge to forgive myself for my shortcomings, and to forgive others for being who they are, even when being who they are bring suffering to you.