The Year of Forgiveness (and Balance)

I’ve decided that 2016 is going to be my year of forgiveness. My year of authenticity and truth. My year of seeking and finding and pursuing and giving. My year of finding emotional BALANCE and believing wholeheartedly that I can forgive without saying certain actions were okay.

I started this blog to help people achieve balance in their lives when it comes to juggling work, school, home, activities, hobbies, careers, dreams and goals. But more than just giving tips on physical ways to keep things in balance, I’ve realized I need to work on finding ways to help people balance their emotions too. And that’s where 2016 comes in.

I’ve struggled with this my entire life… forgiveness.

It’s almost impossible for me to truly forgive people for their mistakes… especially when those mistakes have really hurt  me or someone I love. The moment that someone betrays me or purposely hurts me, I turn away in an attempt to prevent it from ever happening again. Sometimes when I think I’ve forgiven someone, I’m actually still carrying the pain and the frustration around, not realizing how much I’m still carrying and how much it’s affecting my life. Either way… tiny seeds of bitterness are left behind. And these seeds grow faster than we realize.

For most of my life I’ve made the mistake of thinking that forgiveness means you’re weak. That it means that you don’t have a backbone or any real strength. I thought that forgiveness was mostly for cowards who are too afraid to speak up for what is right… and so they accept things that are undeniably wrong.

As in most areas of my life, I’ve realized that forgiveness is neither black nor white… but that I somehow have to find the grey area in the middle.

I’ve spent most of my life keenly aware of the needs of others. My intuition is both strong and accurate, my ability to read someone’s mood or needs is exceptional… but the burden it places on me to be so empathetic has eaten away at my soul. Empathy isn’t a choice for me… and so I taught myself that to be a little less emotionally involved with people, I would have a “one-strike-and-your-out” policy to eliminate at least some of the pain and emotion I felt for others.

I remember distinctly the day I came up with this strategy… I was 17 years old.

Here’s a little backstory… As a young child, I was raped and sodomized by my uncle while my grandmother (both dead now) watched and encouraged it. While screaming for help I was told to be quiet and that I deserved what was happening to me. The horror and cruelty of this disgusting moment in my life cannot be put into words that would accurately depict just how terrible it was. It was the single moment in my life where a part of my eternal spark was extinguished… and the moment my soul was beaten into something that is still unrecognizable.

But in spite of the hours of torture, being spit on, urinated on, beaten and cussed at… In spite of being told that if I ever told anyone he would shoot me and my parents (while my grandmother smiled an ice cold grin listening to his threats)… In spite of ALL of that… when that grandmother laid dying in her hospital bed… I felt sorry for her.

Not just a little sorry either. I felt hysterical as I watched her lay in hospice saying she was hungry, but watching as the hospital staff said no one could feed her. I was beside myself that she was feeling hunger (a “need”) and that no one was helping her. I felt worried, panicked, angry and scared that she wasn’t being given food… And I’m sure that’s what she was feeling.

This is the mind and these are the emotions of an empath.

Empathy to this level is not a choice. Someone once told me it’s a “gift” and I can’t agree with that either.

This hospital incident is when I realized that I had to get control of my emotions and empathy for others. If someone had hurt me, they didn’t deserve my empathy. And as I stood there watching her die I KNEW that I shouldn’t feel as upset about it as I did, but I couldn’t figure out HOW to make the feelings stop.

So… I stopped feeling anything for anyone who had ever hurt me. (If you don’t know this already… this makes relationships impossible and isn’t really the answer either.) I became the woman I am today… the woman who will endlessly defend the underdog (which isn’t a bad thing), but I’m also stuck with almost an inability to forgive… because when I forgive, it seems to insinuate that I forget and that the wrongdoing is okay. And I have a major problem with that.

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Finding the line between forgiveness and strength (and still finding justice too!) is what I want in 2016. I want BALANCE and the ability to forgive, without forgetting. Love without holding back. Give myself to others without worrying I’ll be hurt. And maybe even forgive AND forget a few heartbreaking situations.

I never imagined that I would quote Bob Marley, but his words fit perfectly… “The truth is, everyone is going to hurt you. You just got to find the ones worth suffering for.” People like my husband, my family, my closest friends… they don’t deserve a grudge. No matter how big the offense, how heartbreaking the action, a sincere apology deserves to receive forgiveness in return. And this year I’m going to learn how to truly give that forgiveness to the people who really want it, but that I’ve been holding back from.

There ARE, however, many people (people like my grandmother and my uncle) that don’t deserve my forgiveness… This is where I have to remind myself that the weight of that un-forgiveness rests firmly on my shoulders– not theirs. I know that forgiving them, and people like them who really  hurt me, doesn’t mean I’m saying that it was okay or that it never happened. I’ve KNOWN that my entire life… but this year I hope I can BELIEVE that and put that forgiveness into action.

And maybe even forgive myself.

Is there anyone you need to forgive?

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