Forgiveness is Neutrality
Updated: Feb 5
Hi everyone! It's been a while - I hope you are all doing well, feeling safe and content at the end of the holiday season.
I haven't been feeling quite so secure lately - the December/January period was a time of tremendous challenge and, as expected, a subsequent time of personal growth. This intense period gave way to many new feelings I had not experienced in a long time - comfort, ease, joy, and more importantly, neutrality towards certain situations.
In time I will share more about my recent past, and the lessons I have learned, but today I wanted to share with you a story about forgiveness. But it might not be a traditional tale of forgiveness in the way that we have come to expect.
This story begins with a dear friend breaking my trust. I spent many months internalising this betrayal, using my love for my friend as an excuse to alone carry the burden of my hurt. I thought, "If I can replace this sadness with pure love then I will forgive my friend." So I did what I thought was right - and what might have been right, if I was another person or in another scenario.
I kept my discovery of this betrayal to myself, and began tried to spend time creating new memories with my friend in hope that one day my brain would be so full of lovely thoughts that all of the weeds below would die.
It didn't work.
So then I tried a different approach - the one most recommended to me by others. The approach most of you might have taken. I cut my friend out. I amputated them from my life before the disease could spread. And I healed. I did. But not completely.
I threw myself into my work, became close with new friends, went to therapy, learned how to paint - which did squash down the thoughts. But every time I was invited to an event I felt the anxiety come creeping back. I check to see if that person was attending. I would stay at home and wish I could be out enjoying my weekend. My wound clearly wasn't healed, and all of the painting in the world wasn't going to fix it.
And this is because I was still attached. That person was all I talked about in therapy, they were the reason I skipped out on celebrating with my loved ones, and I even began taking a different route to work to avoid driving past their office. I was clearly still holding onto the hurt and the anger, no matter how good I became at distracting myself.
So then I thought... "maybe I should let go."
And over time I did let go. The intensity of the betrayal slowly dimmed until it was nothing but a memory. I hadn't forgotten, but looking back didn't hurt anymore. I still remember the joy I felt in our good times, but I could now too acknowledge the damage the bad times had caused on me. And when I could look back on our entire friendship and feel nothing but gratitude for the doors that opened and then again closed, I was finally ready to move on.
Have you been hurt in the past by people who you loved? Are you still carrying those burdens for the sake of not causing a fuss? I challenge you to sit with these memories and see how you feel. Write it down, draw a picture, record a voice memo. How do you feel? Do you feel angry? Sad? Vengeful?
These are not the feelings of forgiveness. These are simply the side effects of you transferring the burden of hurt from the afflicter to the afflicted. True forgiveness is neutrality. A feeling of calm. The best way to test if you are experiencing neutrality is to imagine how you would feel if you saw them walking down the street. Would you run? Would you cry? Would you wave?
To the old friend who I wrote this piece about - if you see me on the street, I won't hide or get upset. But I might not initiate a conversation. I am no longer hurting, but I was hurt, and for that I think you would receive a short smile as I walk past.
I forgive you. I am free.
PS Wholistic View's upcoming RETURN TO SOUL Women's Circle is on this very topic of FORGIVENESS. On Mon 24th Feb, 7.30 pm you are invited to lean in to the transcendental act of forgiveness, for when we forgive ourselves we are more able to forgive others.
Are you battling feelings of guilt and shame?
Are you ready to forgive yourself and open your heart to embody forgiveness of others?
To learn more and purchase tickets click here. With only 10 spots released, you wont want to miss out!