THE IMPORTANCE OF FORGIVENESS

People can hurt us badly. The pain they’ve inflicted on us can lie heavily on our hearts, and the wounds they caused are burned into our souls. Betrayal, abuse, lying, and so much more are so hurtful that they seem unforgivable. Forgiving others when they have hurt us is extremely hard to do. It’s easier to bury the hurt and anger than to release the pain by forgiving.

Recently, as you have read in earlier posts, I have published my book Escape to the Garage: Family Love Overcomes Bullying, and a topic that I have discussed with my readers is forgiveness. Many have asked me if while writing this book was I able to forgive those who bullied me. Writing this book was therapeutic and healing. For years I carried around the wounds of the bullying I endured in school. Carrying it around was a heavy burden. I hated my abusers. Each time I remembered my childhood, I thought of the pain they caused me, and it flared a deep anger inside me. That anger ripped at me.

As I wrote my book, I had to relive it and that was extremely difficult, but it was helpful. By reliving it, I was able to trace my slow decline into mental illness and at the same time forgive those who abused me. As I wrote about the bullying, I felt that pain all over again. The hate and anger I felt towards them seared through me. I cried in my husband’s arms and whispered, “I forgive you.” Then suddenly a wound healed, and my soul was freed.

From childhood to adulthood, I carried anger, hate, and pain from what the kids and teachers did to me in school. As an adult, that anger, hate, and pain weighed on my soul as I struggled with mental illness. I talked to my therapist about the bullying, and it felt good to talk about it, but my heart was still heavy. It pulled me down.

I made friends but struggled to trust them. When I started working, I feared anyone who had authority over me. I couldn’t ask some of my teachers for help because they put me down, and to a kid, they were people of authority. So, when I started working, I feared managers. I did my best to avoid talking to them and if I needed their help, I found myself unable to ask. The worst part is when I started in the bakery department at the grocery store where I work, my first manager yelled a lot. I found myself unable to speak. Each day before work I felt sick to my stomach. I kept making mistakes until they moved me to the front end as a bagger.

Carrying that fear of authority around made my job harder. I couldn’t go to a manager for help or stand up for myself when I needed to. My fear and anger towards the teachers who hurt me hovered over me and pushed me down. Not being able to forgive those teachers held me back and left wounds open. While I wrote my book, I forgave each teacher one by one. By doing that I have taken control of the fear and have healed my wounds. Now I can talk more easily with my managers.

I learned that forgiveness isn’t for the person who hurt you, because that person may never admit he or she ever did anything wrong. I realized I didn’t have to track down each of my classmates and teachers who bullied me to forgive. I had to forgive for me within my heart and soul. It was the only way I could free myself of the hurt, anger, hate, and fears that burdened me for so long.

In high school when my mental illness sent me hurtling towards the bottom of the dark hole, a friend abused me. For years afterwards I struggled with the abuse and my feelings about it. I couldn’t move past it and it haunted me. I struggled with relationships because of it. My therapist told me to write down what I would say to the friend who hurt me in a letter and how what she did to me made me feel. She told me to let out all my feelings and then forgive her. She told me not to send the letter but burn it. I took it to a place where she hurt me, and I burned it. (I made sure I safely burned it without catching anything else on fire.)

By burning the letter and watching the paper turn to ash, I let go of all the anguish she caused me and forgave her. For once in my life, I was finally able to put what she did to me behind me and move on with my life. There are scars that no one can see, but I am no longer haunted by what the friend did to me. I am free. I’ll never completely forget, but it’s in the back of my mind and I live a happy life.

Forgive those who have hurt you for yourself. Don’t carry around the hurt and anger he or she caused you. By carrying it around, it’s eating you up inside and only hurting you and not them. They go on with their lives while you quietly drown in your own personal anguish. Forgive to free yourself, forgive to heal your wounds, and forgive to move forward with your life. You don’t have to face the person to forgive him or her. Put your forgiveness in a letter and burn it, or whisper it quietly into the night.

Since I wrote my book, I was able to forgive those who hurt me and now I’m free to dance within the light of recovery.

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