Let’s let that word sit and marinate for a minute while while I bring down the barrier that kept my heart safe all of these years. Ok are you ready?
There is no secret that my husband is my best friend, not only because we get along so well, but because he is not afraid to have difficult conversations with me. This man who agreed to spend the rest of his life with me, has done so on the condition that we will always be honest with each other and speak up when things are not right. Well, things are not right.
There is someone in my life (who I prefer to leave unnamed) that dug a hole in my heart and left a rotting scar. This person is no longer a part of my life but every now and then I get a surge of emotions when thinking back to how life was – despite how great it is now. For a long time, I carried the hurt within me and used it to justify every rebellious behaviour I adopted, every scar that I created and every inch of hate that welled up inside me. After all, hurt people hurt other people right? Just writing this now is bringing up a lot of emotions which I would rather bury and deal with at a later stage when they choose to resurface, but this has been going on for way too long. It’s about time to confront the problem head on so I can define how the next chapters of my life will be.
My husband and I were discussing this particular person in what I believed to be a light-hearted conversation, only to have the following questions thrown at me. Can you say with complete honesty that you have truly forgiven <insert name>? What did you learn from that experience? Do you think you are a better person because of it? Can you honestly thank them today for the lessons you have learnt in life? These questions hit quite hard as I knew the answer to everything was no. No, I have not forgiven. No, I did not need to go through everything they put me through in order to be a better person. No, I will never thank them for such an experience.
I won’t be digging deeper into the events or the emotions in this or any future posts, perhaps until I am at a place where I can speak objectively. What I can say with certainty is that this hurt was different, unexpected. As a twenty something old woman, I have experienced break ups before and with every “it’s over”, life felt as though it was ending. What intrigues me is that each time hurt just a little more, almost as though my desperation to be accepted just kept getting worse. Thinking back, it definitely wasn’t a healthy progression, but all of those heartbreaks added together were nothing compared to this hole left by this family member.
Moving away from my personal grudges, I want to share a few things I know to be true, yet struggle to apply in this particular instance;
Forgiveness is for you, not the other person
‘EQ’ is generally the best vector to improving interpersonal relationships. Part of becoming an emotionally intelligent person is recognising that you cannot change anyone, only yourself. While this may not be the easiest or most practical thing to do, understanding the effects that holding grudges has on your body should be a reason in itself to work on letting go. Studies have shown that less forgiving people tend to have depression, anxiety, stress, anger, and hostility. According to Dr. Karen Swartz M.D, director of the Mood Disorders Adult Consultation Clinic at The Johns Hopkins Hospital, your body’s natural response to anger and disappointment is to shift gears into a flight or fight mode which raises your blood pressure, levels of anxiety, and immune response. Guess what – I suffer from anxiety and depression.
Life will go on even if you are unwilling to participate
I had written quite a lengthy piece over here, but decided to delete it with one click… Guess what – I’ve spent several years of my life dealing with these demons. I don’t recall time stopping to wait for me.
A negative mindset will never give you a positive life
This may sound a little harsh but after spending so much time piecing the fragments of my broken soul, I feel qualified to say this. I have come to realise that dwelling in self-pity does not reap the desired outcome, nor does it hurt the person that inflicted the pain. I mentioned early that hurt people hurt people and while this is not always the intention, doing so is the slippery slope to a downward spiral. Instead, challenge the negativity and identify which of these thoughts are cognitive distortions. Each experience is different, but separating the past from our emotions can be a prudent step to ‘stopping the cycle’. Guess what – it took Google to help me formulate that last sentence because all I feel is anger.
I bet you feel somewhat confused. Well here’s the thing; I’m selling you something that I am still trying to internalise. This blog that you have been enjoying has been much more than just a chance to share my writing, it has served as an outlet. Most of what I have written gets deleted soon after, or just sits in my drafts until I am ready to face it. Well, this one happened to make it out because I hope that we can all learn something from it.
While I am just not ready to even try and understand <insert name>’s rationale for their actions, I am willing to work on myself. How they behaved is no longer any of my business. As much as I was the sole beneficiary of <insert name>’s unkind actions, it is not fair on myself or those who truly love me, to keep my mind trapped in that bubble. My husband has been drilling this into my head for a while now and I may just be ready to listen. We’re breaking free! *Cue High School Musical soundtrack*