Forgiveness isn’t the first stop
A decade ago, when I was in a coaching certification program, I revealed during an emotional exercise that it was challenging for me, at that time, to connect with myself somatically…an epiphany….it was because I experienced child sexual abuse. For the longest time, deep down, I didn’t feel like I owned my own body.
At this reveal, the first thing I heard one of my coaching teachers say was giving me the assignment of “forgiveness”. To forgive the perpetrator. Well intentioned.
Or…when my mom told me to “be a good Buddhist” by forgiving my stepfather for the atrocious things he’s done to our family.
First stop — forgiveness. What I got from that message was that it was the first thing that I need to do to be a more loving, spiritual person.
But there was a part of me that was fighting back with the thought, “Do I always need to forgive, no matter what? So is Forgiveness always the first & final destination?”
I know in the past, it was easier for me to go to Forgiveness right away because I was avoiding all the tougher emotions underneath (hurt, pain, anger, sadness). Yet every single time, these emotions always bubble up and need that attention that they do. I wasn’t ready yet.
Great authors like Jeff Brown and Danielle LaPorte write about this as “spiritual bypass”.
Over the years, I’ve developed an interesting relationship with Forgiveness. I tried different things. Forgiving right away…but yet still feeling anger and hurt underneath (unresolved stuff). Never forgiving…and the walls of protection closed out the good with the bad. And a lot in between.
Through much processing, honest conversations with myself and with the kindness of evolved friends…I’ve learned that the most wholesome forgiveness I can share is when I’ve actually taken the road to challenge myself to process hard emotions, heal and nurture myself about this hurt, to forgive myself in the process and move forward. Then I am able to clearly examine Forgiveness for this person.
What good is forgiving if we’re giving EIF — what I call Empty Instant Forgiveness — doing it because we feel obligated to, or that we SHOULD, or that we’re afraid to rock the boat. That we’re not worthy and that our suffering/emotions it’s not as important.
I’ve seen partners in domestic violent relationships forgive their partner right away (maybe because they don’t want to face the ugly truths about the relationship), people forgive friends instantly when betrayed (maybe because they felt the friendship is more important than their own feelings) or people who forgive their family members without having a conversation first (maybe to avoid conflict).
Yet there is still so much pain underneath. And it’s a cycle that loops back to the source.
I don’t give out Forgiveness cards like business cards.
I don’t feel bad about it.
I aim to share Meaningful Forgiveness — it’s special and takes time to cultivate. I learned that Meaningful Forgiveness is a choice, not an obligation.
When I forgive someone, it’s because I truly forgive from my whole heart. And when I do consciously forgive myself and others, boy, is it Powerful.
So the next time, you share something intimate and the other person’s first response is “You NEED to forgive them”, you have the choice to kindly tell them to “Fuck off.
Compassionate loved ones will offer empathy and encourage us to heal first. Not bypass the tough road of emotions associated to the pain. Once we’re ready, we can consciously choose to forgive.
I believe that Forgiveness doesn’t have to be the final destination, nor the first. Let us walk the path first and then make a meaningful choice.