Hearing those words “I’m sorry” or “please forgive me”, for the hundredth time, can sometimes make someone even more upset. I know that feeling. I have worn both shoes; I was the one asking for forgiveness and the one accepting the apology. But what does it really mean to forgive? Or what does it mean to ask for forgiveness? I don’t have all the answers, but I have learned that when I am upset with someone, I hold a resentment – I am holding onto anger. That anger is only going to hurt me.
Asking for forgiveness is difficult. Sometimes that means swallowing your pride, admitting your faults, and asking someone to move on from that place of anger or resentment. Sometimes it can be really simple, you know what you have done and you can self-correct, and apologize for your behavior. But when you are given forgiveness by someone that means they are entrusting that you will work to not display that behavior again. We all know that to develop positive habits it takes time, and you have to work at it. That is the point of asking for forgiveness, we work to change so we don’t put ourselves or others in that place again. We may stumble and make mistakes, but we work at it.
Giving forgiveness is also something really difficult. If the situation had a severe negative impact on our lives it might be more difficult to forgive. If it is something small, we may not even give it a second thought. Forgiveness does not mean that you forget what happened, it just means that you are ready to move on from it and not live in that moment any longer. When it is something that has had a great impact then this can take a lot of time. But it’s possible if you are willing to work at it and move beyond the hurt you may feel. Recovery is very much about the entire process of forgiving.
In recovery, we learn that we cannot hold on to anger. We cannot hold onto anger because we think irrationally and make poor choices when we only use our emotions to make decisions, instead of logic, or the facts. When I came into recovery, I had to wear both of those shoes, asking and giving forgiveness. I also had to learn that an empty apology was not going to help relationships heal. I had to work on being responsible and accountable. I had to learn that empty promises were not going to fill the bill, I had to become a woman of my word. That meant that I had to allow people to heal, and allow them to process the hurt that I had caused. Once they were ready, we could both move on and rebuild our relationship.
One of the hardest things that I had to do was to forgive myself. I had done so much damage to my family and friends that they did not trust me anymore. When I looked at all the pain I had caused, there was no one to blame but myself. I learned through recovery that we all make mistakes that come in different sizes, mine just happened to be rather large. Once I began to change and make better choices, I saw that I was worthy of forgiveness. I was not a bad person; I just made some poor decisions. Through the process of recovery and healing, I was able to develop self-worth and realized that I had the potential to do anything that I wanted in life. I remember very early in my journey of recovery wondering how I was ever going to be happy again. I thought that I had caused so much pain that I would never find happiness again. When I gave myself the chance, I proved myself wrong. I am worthy of happiness, forgiveness, and life. So is each of us, we have to make better decisions for ourselves and change the way that we interact with people. We cannot make excuses for our actions. We can change. When we become better, others will see that also. When others see that we have changed and begin to live in a better emotional place, they will be able to see the difference. We will be able to feel the difference, and make better choices.
Forgiveness helps us to move forward, and we are all worth making a better future for ourselves.
Life of Purpose Treatment
3848 FAU Boulevard, Suite 100
Boca Raton, FL 33431