I have been open about my breakup journey and journey is really the best way to put it because it has not been a linear path. There has been ups and downs and to be completely transparent I spent most of the summer escaping reality, pretending that I was fine and hiding from the pain I was feeling.
I filled my life with fun and ignored my responsibilities. I refused to feel sad, and I searched for happiness in all the wrong places. People kept telling me I was doing so well and it felt good to think that I was adjusting seamlessly to the changes in my life. It wasn’t until the fall hit that I realized that I had been harbouring a lot of anger towards my ex and it was being redirected to other places in my life. I decided that I didn’t want to be stuck in this space anymore so I started to work through forgiveness.
Do You Need to Forgive
As I started my journey of forgiveness, I wasn’t fully aware of the extent of my pain. The trauma I witnessed spread further than just the trauma that my ex-partner had caused; I had experienced trauma from people I didn’t even know and forgiving a stranger was much harder for me than forgiving a loved one.
Forgiveness can come in all shapes and forms; if someone has stolen from you or betrayed you, if life has taken someone too soon or if there has been infidelity. We are all wired to retaliate, and although anger is our first response it really does not offer true respite from pain and suffering. It may take time to realize that some bitterness in your life needs to be replaced with forgiveness.
Why Forgiveness is Necessary
Dwelling on the past and holding onto feelings of resentment or anger or grief can not only be emotionally damaging but it can also affect you physically. According to Psychology Today anger and bitterness when trapped can show up as physical ailments like stomachaches or high blood pressure or can increase feelings of depression and anxiety. Staying in a place of anger makes us prisoners to the people that have harmed us and by forgiving, we are giving ourselves the key to break free from being tied to this person. Forgiveness was essential for me to move on, and be liberated so that I can be at peace.
What People Don’t Tell You About Forgiveness
My forgiveness journey was emotionally exhausted. I used The Book of Forgiving to help guide me through what Desmond Tutu calls the Fourfold path. People talk about having a breakthrough like it is this glamourous moment of clarity and a sense of calming and relief. This is total bullsh*t. I went from extreme angry to immense sadness, then to depression and fatigue. I didn’t move from one phase to another, I went in circles, some days I felt fine and others I had to force myself to get out of bed. If my path were to be scribbled down on a piece of paper it would be mess of scriggled lines in all directions.
Forgiveness is an Exercise in Compassion
I had a lot of anger post break up, especially when everything fully unfolded. I felt deceived because there was so much dishonesty. It was really hard for me to see things from his perspective because I knew what he had done to me, I could never do to anyone else. I felt taken advantage of and I was filled with anger, resentment and hostility. My ex never issued me an apology for all he put me through. He never admitted any fault. He showed no remorse and this made it very difficult for me to get to a place where I could forgive him.
In a perfect world, there would be remorse, there would be a heartfelt apology, accountability, and owning up to any wrongdoing. I couldn’t continue to live in bitterness, so I made the decision that I needed to stop the suffering and empower myself.
Telling Our Stories
The Book of Forgiving talks about first naming your hurt and fully feeling all the emotions and concerns that go along with this hurt. There are certain things we tell ourselves when it comes to forgiveness. There are things that hold us back from truly letting go of suffering. I know I thought if I forgive my former partner he will never know all the hurt that he has caused me; He would be allowed to live his life with a clear conscious. I would be a spineless person if I chose to forgive him, but when we forgive, it does not mean that we forget. Forgiveness is something that I have to do for myself, not for him.
Recently more than ever, I feel that the universe works in mysterious ways and when I reached the chapter in The Book of Forgiving where you write a letter telling your story to the person that hurt you, it just so happened that I ran int my ex-partner that day. I poured my heart out and told him all about my disappointment, my anger, the grief, and the shame that I went through. He listened quietly but really had nothing to say, he made excuses, he refused to own up to his actions, and he continued to be unwilling to show me any compassion.
Remember: Forgiveness does not mean that they change or that they are going to be different
I knew that he was not ready to release his pain. In The Book of Forgiving, it states that people who hurt others do so because they have experienced so much hurt; They are not able to release this hurt because it is too overwhelming to them. This is when addiction occurs, the person is trying to numb the pain that they feel instead of releasing it.
This relationship is not one that I am going to be able to mend, it is a relationship that I need to release. If I hold onto this relationship any longer it will continue to harm me.
The Stories of Others
Forgiveness is not easy. It is important for me to remember and keep reminding myself that I cannot measure someone’s worth strictly based upon all the bad things they have done in their lives. People are born with a conscious and deep down they have the ability to be better.
I had to come to terms with the fact that not every action is a personal attack. The actions of others have more to do with them than they have to do with me. Although I may not know their story, I know that we are all flawed human beings who may have been broken throughout our lives. This is not an excuse for bad behaviour, but it does allow for compassion. People have so many layers and I do not know the circumstances that have tainted the way that they treat others.
How to Gain Forgiveness
Although I am not going to hold my breath and wait for an apology, The Book of Forgiving outlines clear expectations of what someone who is asking for forgiveness needs to do in order to release their hurt.
True remorse is thinking of another first and being accountable for the actions we take in life that may harm others. The more harm we cause, the more we lose our humanity. We cannot worry about the price we pay by admitting our wrongdoings, when we are asking for forgiveness we must expose our truth.
There can be no healing without sharing our genuine truth and showing empathy. To be released from the past you must take all the steps your victim requires to make amends.
The Fourfold Path
I was going to list out the steps to finding forgiveness, but I think the Book of Forgiving has been the best tool for me to fully get to a place of peace. Each chapter has a mediation, an exercise, and a journal entry. It was essential for me to finally feel freedom.
A 1,000 word blog post would not suffice, but I wanted to write a compelling argument to why this should be a part of everyone’s journey because completing my Fourfold path has helped me redirect my energy in a positive way. After I completed this book, I had the best sleep I have had in a while.
The Silver Lining
Forgiveness is our opportunity to escape being the victim and become the hero in our story. I have learned that I can’t heal in isolation, by sharing my stories with others and by connecting with people who have gone through similar experiences I have been able to create intimate relationships with people in my life. The amount of growth I have experienced in the past six months has exceeded the growth I have experienced in the previous year. It took a traumatic experience to help me realize how important my own fulfilment is to me and the role my values have in my everyday life.
It does not take travelling to a faraway land to evolve spiritually. Transformation happens from within and in our current environments. I am able to create a positive outcome for my terrible situation. This is the main reason I chose to share my journey on my blog. I truly believe that sharing my story has helped so many people out there that have been struggling with life not turning out their way and dealing with the overwhelming task of healing and starting over.
If you are early in your break up journey, I compiled a list of ten tips that helped me survive my break up. It may take some time to get to a place where forgiveness is possible. I know I was not ready to embark on my forgiveness journey right away.