But It Can Take a Lifetime to Get Ready For It

Mar 9, 2015 by

“To forgive is not to condone, to relieve responsibility, or to excuse the behavior; forgiveness is a personal act that can transfer emotional control back into your hands.”

– Katherine Piderman


          I’ve been reading up on how to forgive, because I suck at it. I’m not incapable of forgiveness, but it takes me a long time to get past being hurt, especially hurt caused by someone I trusted. Don’t worry; this is not being written in reference to the guy I cried about at the Eiffel Tower. He is legit forgiven. Plus, he’s not someone I put enough faith in to be too badly burnt by anyway. My forgiveness research was prompted by my own trouble coping with past hurt that I’d like to move the fuck on from already. What were those insightful words my friend Christal said back in December? “It takes a split second to forgive, but it can take a lifetime to get ready for it.”

          Forgiveness is a decision. It’s a choice to stop punishing the person you’re bitter at with passive-aggressiveness or silence or whatever your resentment manifests as, and to stop punishing yourself with anxiety brought about by your own animosity. Arriving at the decision to forgive is a weight off. Getting ready to make that decision is a bitch. Personally, my hesitation comes from my concern that forgiving someone sends the message that what he or she did was okay or not that big of a deal, and therefore it would be okay or not that big of a deal if it happened again. In essence, I’m scared of a repeat offence.

          To give myself some credit, I’ve let go of a lot of anger over the past couple years, but there’s still some competitiveness lingering. There’s still a sense of having to be better than the person that hurt me, because I feel the need to prove to myself that I can thrive beyond opposition; but competition, particularly one-sided competition, is impairing. It makes me lose sight of my point, causes tension, and hinders happiness. I’ve felt competitive with someone I was hurt by once before. Overcoming it required years of space. It took said someone becoming insignificant enough to my life for me to stop caring about where I was in relation to that person. In the long run, that space salvaged a friendship.

          This brings about the question: Is it easier to forgive someone in his or her absence? To forgive does not necessarily mean to maintain a relationship, and the process of forgiveness differs on a case-by-case basis. I’m trying to figure out what’s best in this case. I’m trying to determine what will lead to the most long-term happiness, regardless of what’s harder in the short term. Either way, forgiveness is a commitment to keep the past in the past. Ross Bonander made a good point of this in his article 4 Steps: Let Go of a Grudge: “If you have decided to restore the relationship, then it’s time to cut out the passive-aggressive behaviour and the cold-shoulder treatment. If you have decided that the incident that sparked the grudge revealed something about their character that has put you off permanently, it’s time to distance yourself. Do one or the other. You can’t do both.”

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