Last night, I had a shocking glimpse at the nature of forgiveness. The problem with today's world is we have access to all these amazing quotes & books & movies with one-liners & Twitter with its smartypants tweets that blow your mind away in 140 characters. They tell us, in simple, uncomplicated ways, how forgiveness is essential. And how love is the key. And we read it all, nod in agreement, throw it into our everyday conversation to look evolved and mature.
Perhaps in this verbal storm of words, the real meaning of things slips away, unable to penetrate deep into our consciousness. And therefore, unable to become a manifest part of our character.
I have long & hard told my mother the necessity of forgiveness. Of anger that burns you while you hold onto it, causing next to no harm to the person it has been directed at. She has found it endlessly difficult to truly forgive. It has been a raging, tearing, searing battle that has lasted years and may last many more years. It turns out, my words to her are no different from the verbal storm I referred to. It turns out, I am no different. I may not have a load as heavy as hers to bear but it seems I do have my share of trauma.
I have managed to tuck it away deep inside of me, unaddressed, seeking relief every chance I get, in the form of acknowledgement & apology.
I got my apology for some of that hurt last night. And guess what? It made no difference. I now know a very scary fact: apologies do not deliver forgiveness. Forgiveness is not between two people or between groups of people. Forgiveness comes from your love for yourself. If you cherish yourself enough, you won't cherish hurt & trauma. Forgiveness is allowing yourself to be at peace with the imperfection of the past. Mostly because nothing can be changed about it anymore. But more so because hurt & trauma are things we do to ourselves by crudely accepting ideas as valid without ever testing them actively.
Did somebody crush your hopes? Did somebody who you thought loved you not cherish you when you most needed it? Did somebody not come & stand up next to you when you were in danger of tipping over?
It turns out, nobody is obliged to be anything to us. Nobody. Except us. We, alone, are obliged to protect ourselves. People do love you. But people will never love you the way you love yourself. And people will never love you according to your definition of complete, absolute, true love. They will do it their way, while balancing their own life & purpose, flawed & marred by their own concepts & emotions & shortcomings. Just like we all do.
It turns out, forgiveness is accepting that only you can truly love yourself.