I remember in my mid teen coming to term with apologising, how much strength it took, how to do it right, not to say “…but…” after saying sorry. Not giving excuses, just apologising, just genuinely saying sorry to whoever and taking whatever it was that needed to be taken responsibility of. Sometimes you’ve done or said something wrong and you say sorry for that. Sometimes you acted like a jerk, and you apologise for that. I often try to say WHAT I’m sorry about, to add meaning to it (I’m big on meaning). Sometimes I can feel something isn’t quite right but I’m not sure what, so I say sorry; or I ask if I’ve done anything wrong.
The courage needed to say sorry is real. But recently I came across something that opened my eyes to how much courage is needed to forgive.
I’m a little angry at the world, at the grown-ups, at the older generations for not teaching us that. Why do they not?! Forgiving takes SO MUCH courage, it’s such a brave action but we’re brought us thinking that saying sorry and forgiving are for the weak. That it’s something shameful and embarrassing (well it is a little embarrassing to say sorry as you’ve made a fool of yourself). It’s an old fashion word found in old texts or religious scriptures. No one tells us that forgiveness is a conscious action. It doesn’t just happen, hurt doesn’t just disappear, it might fade and go to the background but it’s there. It needs to be faced head on, to be analysed and looked at every angle until one can forgive. And that takes GUT. It takes strength to let something go, to accept your friends or family member’s shortcomings. It makes you realise you’re own weaknesses. How can one not forgive, does one not want to be forgiven?
There’s forgiving and going back to “being friends”, retrying at that relationship and moving forward together and then there’s forgiving and moving on without that person. Those are both ok I think, people make mistakes, and we’re all people. Sometimes we can take it, sometimes we can’t.
The key is to not let things fester, to not let dislike turn into hate or disdain or envy or any of those horrible emotions. We only have one heart, there aren’t really any concrete dividers in there so if you have those negative feelings, they’ll bleed (heh) into your other emotions, they’ll taint your happiness, that’s what I think. Hate isn’t the opposite of love, it’s quite close to love. Disregard is the opposite of love. Love meant caring about that person, with hate you also have that person on your mind but with disregard, you’ve taken them out of your heart and out of your thoughts, you do not use any energy over them. That’s the best course of action for someone you no longer care about or want in your life. I was just reading this other blog and it was saying how forgiveness isn’t about the other person, it’s about freeing yourself. I guess that’s what I was trying to get at in the above paragraph.
I wish they taught us this at school, that saying sorry and forgiving are brave actions. I think being told this in our formative years would make us great human beings, more compassionate, more in touch with our feelings. We would be more honest, to ourselves and to each other. We’d be more aware of other people and their feelings, gaining respect for people who apologise and forgive, not look down on them or dismiss them. This would make us accept adult life more easily I think, not break down and sink into depression when life gets tough, when people hurt us, when things don’t happen the way we thought they would. Why are we brought up in a way where we only start to look properly when bad things happen to us?
I ramble a lot, and there’s not much structure to what I say, I just hope to get you thinking, as I still am about how courageous forgiving is.
I give people excuses, just stopping before getting angry and trying to come up with a few excuses will dissipate that anger. I don’t think I’ve ever come up with 10 reasons before my anger or annoyance was gone. I do it for my sake. Being angry only hurts me. Giving people excuses makes life much easier to live, you just shrug off things and realise that life’s too short to get upset about every other matter.
My story of forgiveness: a few summers ago, when I was in my late teen I had a bit of a fallout with my cousin that I had grown up with, she was just a year older than me but we were very close, we had family gathering every weekend pretty much and sleepovers during the holidays. She was a big part of my childhood. I moved country when I was around 13 years old and the physical distance led to… well…growing distant and this was also before the age of smartphones and even Facebook really for my generation. Then one summer, her older brother got married, me and my family went to her house in France to stay for a few days for the wedding. There were other family members there. Somehow during those few days I was cast aside, my cousins went to the hall to decorate but somehow I was left behind and other stuff like that. I didn’t realise then, but afterwards, when I was back in England, it had kinda been done on purpose. She had heard stories, adult stories that no kid needed to get involved in, and she had chosen a side or something like that. I was so crushed. My childhood cousin! The one I thought I would always be close to! The one I told my childish secrets, with whom I played all sorts of games and exchanged all sorts of stories. She had betrayed me. Oh how I cried. I cried at the betrayal, I cried at being upset, I cried thinking about the memories. I didn’t know what to do. I told a very few close friends so they could help me with this situation and slowly slowly I did the whole “forgive and forget” thing people bang on about. I kept her at a distance and basically took her out of my heart. It didn’t hurt anymore if she would come to the UK and I would not meet her. I didn’t need to see her. But I don’t think that was true forgiveness… It took a while but afterwards I was able to speak to her ok, but we weren’t going to get as close as we were. That’s kinda part of growing up isn’t it? We would talk when we would meet and I think at some point we exchanged numbers and would just ask how we’re doing via messages. We were on good speaking terms since about 1 or 2 years ago. All very superficial and “hellos, hows life” kind of conversation.
Her older sister came to stay with us summer 2014 and I decided to get gifts and stuff as I was all growed up and had some cash of my own. I think I thought doing stuff like choosing a gift would help with getting over those past feelings. It kinda did. We didn’t meet until the next year but we messaged each other every one in a while. Then I got sick but no message from her, even if she was getting news from me through other sources, her older sister messaged me and I was never close to her (she was much older). In my true stubborn-independent-frank-bordering-on-rude fashion I messaged her asking her if she knew I had been sick and that I was sad she hadn’t contacted me. I told her what I needed to. That I was sad and upset. And she told me that she knew a little but not much and I had been in her thought. Credit to her, she apologised and said she understood how I felt. So we moved on and went back to talking occasionally and checking on each other. I have forgiven her now. It was a long time ago. And nobody’s perfect. Even though that matter was never brought up, it wasn’t worth getting hanged up over it. Bigger matters happen and make you realise how futile and tiny those arguments are. Our relationship was “recalibrated” a mix of growing up, growing apart, walking the path of life.