I’ve had my share of disappointments and betrayals. My heart still stings when something or someone triggers a painful memory. Anger, bitterness and resentment thrive when you believe you’ve been wronged. Those emotions feed on each other and impact your interactions with others but more importantly, they affect your ability to grow. Buddha describes it this way:
“Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die”
I read something years ago that changed the way I thought about forgiveness. I learned that forgiveness is something you do for yourself. It’s not about the other person. It’s in the process of forgiveness that you “let go” and move on. It doesn’t mean you condone the other person’s behavior, or that you forget what happened. But forgiveness allows you to get on with your life and move forward.
I recently wrote a coming of age story – my own. A memoir that spans the first 22 years of my life. My early adult years were tumultuous, filled with adventures and riddled with pain, sorrow and lost dreams. As I wrote, I laughed and cried as the memories came flooding back. I realized there was something I needed to do – a gift I needed to give myself from all those years ago. I needed to forgive myself – for a failed marriage, a lost love, a lost dream. The writing was cathartic but it has been in the process of forgiving myself that I can finally let go, and be free.
“Forgiving does not erase the bitter past. A healed memory is not a deleted memory. Instead, forgiving what we cannot change creates a new way to remember. We change the memory of our past into a hope for our future.” ~ Lewis Smedes