"Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves." -Confucius
1. FORGIVE When we choose to forgive, we evict the pain associated with the "offense." There is no point at which it is necessary to say "you were right to hurt me" or "what you did was OK." Forgiveness is about releasing ourselves from pain and suffering. Forgiveness does however allow for the "humanness" that we all share and the inevitability that people, sometimes, just through preference, will do things that will be painful to us. It also allows for the fact that sometimes we too will hurt others just by exercising choice.
I've learned how true it is that "pain is inevitable but misery is optional." We don't have to stay miserable. We can feel misery and let it pass. In order for that to happen we need to stop throwing wood on the fire. We need to stop reliving "the offense" over and over in our minds. The constantly wondering "WHY" has to end. When we're feeling deeply wounded, is there really an answer to "WHY" that will magically make it OK? Trust me on this - NO! Continuing to seek a liberating answer only keeps us stuck. Forgiveness is a conscious decision to be free. It's the choice to take back our power instead of giving our energy to someone who most likely has already moved on. Besides, if someone really did intend to hurt us, what could be more aggravating for them than to see that we're no longer tied to them with strong emotions like hate, and anger?
2. SURVIVE AND THRIVE When we feel we've been struck a deadly blow, the idea of "thriving" isn't even on the radar. Getting from day one to day two seems like a mammoth undertaking. Surviving and thriving is a two part process. The first part requires that we move to a "safe place." That doesn't always mean a physical move but if that's a real concern we need to do it as quickly as possible. It also means creating an emotional "safe room" by surrounding ourselves with people we trust and who love us. (They're going to need to love us to put up with hearing about it over and over again for awhile.)
We need to be willing to seek the help of a professional if we feel we feel it's needed. This isn't a sign of weakness - it's a re-commitment to strength. It's important to get back to the center of "us." Reconnecting with who we were before the wound, is the best way to separate ourselves from the wound. We all know people who have gone through hurt who "become" their hurt. They live and breathe through their pain and as a result it defines who they are - not just what they've been through.
The second part, the "thriving" can only happen as we reconnect to ourselves and set our sights on the future. There is no "thriving" in the past. Thriving requires forward thinking and forward motion. AND...can there really be anything as annoying to an intentional offender than seeing that we've moved on?
3. LET GO Letting go is the hardest part of all. We can move past our struggles, but not until we're willing to. For a time, when we're healing, we need our wound. It gives us time to go through all of the emotions required for healing. Going through the emotions is the only real way out of them. Suppressing tears, diving in to our work to forget, or pretending we don't care, may work for awhile, but at some point the suppressed emotions will resurface. Often it's as we're attempting to move into a new relationship. We can end up taking our old, unhealed grief along with us and unwittingly trying to extract "our pound of flesh" from the new innocent person. There is no room for a healthy relationship in a heart that's still shattered. All the goodness that might have been can end up slipping through the cracks - ripping open the healing that's already taken place.
Letting go is not done unconsciously. We have to be ready to say, "I-am-willing-to-let-go." We need to be willing to give up the pity and empathy that we've enjoyed from our friends and family. We have to say goodbye to the "righteous indignation" that's allowed us to feel "better than." We have to give up our "woundology" and be willing to accept responsibility for ourselves again. Letting go assures that we can move into a fresh future. A future that allows for things like trust and vulnerability.
A wise person once told me that as we seek to regain trust, we need to have a broader definition of the word. He went on to explain that trust isn't just something we extend to someone else. Along with extending trust, we must also deeply trust ourselves. Trust is being willing to take a chance again knowing full well there is a possibility of hurt. Hurt is inevitable when living in an imperfect world with imperfect people while also being imperfect. Trust is knowing that "when" our feelings get hurt again, we have within us, the strength to pick ourselves back up and carry on!
Our happiest days are just up ahead, waiting in the wings for us to heal up to them - but when we do, we'll need to be full of hope and with a willingness to trust in order to claim them.
There you have it. No go out there an unleash an avalanche of "Revenge" and see how just how good it makes you feel!