“Forgiveness is the intentional and voluntary process by which a victim undergoes a change in feelings and attitude regarding an offense, lets go of negative emotions such as vengefulness, with an increased ability to wish the offender well”
That is the standard definition for FORGIVENESS, or at least that is the first pop up after you type the word in Google’s search engine. Today’s post was supposed to be completely different but after stumbling past a status that questioned how to forgive those who aren’t sorry, I was immediately pushed with the desire to respond to it by way of a blog. Why? Because typing my thoughts on forgiveness in the comment section is not enough. Forgiveness is longer than a comment. It’s a novel that seeks no end. Forgiveness is not a three-minute poem or a hot 16 bars of hip hop fire. Forgiveness is a Prince song that was a remix before it was released. Forgiveness is a dictionary. A library. Forgiveness is an emotional task that can’t be stifled into small or short categories because To Forgive is To Grow. Growth should never be stifled.
A wonderful writer/model/fellow black sister asked three poignant questions regarding forgiveness:
- – What does it take?
- -What does it look like?
- -What must you do?
I intend on responding to those three questions by way of my personal experience with living and forgiving.
If you were around for the inception of this blog or at the very least, back when the blog was still on Google’s janky-promoters platform, then you know the ‘Muse’ of this blog was someone who had hurt me deep into the core of the woman I was. My original point of the blog formerly known as AMuseD was to free myself of the suffocation caused by my anger – everything I was holding in, everything I needed to say (for years) and the lack of forgiveness. I hoped by the time I ended this blog or changed it to being something else, I would have successfully mastered forgiveness and releasing. He was like a cancer inside of me; a tumor that grew by the hour. Quick backstory (for the purpose of how much forgiveness I needed to be able to dish out). I was played, plain and simple. I had started ‘dating’ (loosely used term) this dude and had been upfront about who I was, where I was in my life regarding dating and what I wanted vs didn’t want. I THOUGHT he was being just as transparent with me….but he wasn’t. He lied the entire nine months we fucked around. He sparked with an old flame while we were getting to know each other (and having sex) and kept this spark a secret. He used me by way of dry begging and managed to get roughly $500 out of me, some that was LOANED, of which he never paid back. His payment was to cut my grass for free, even though, if we were actually dating, that would have been something he should have just been ok to do for me. But he didn’t dig me like that and I get that now. Long story short, he took money I gave him (or money he owed me) to buy out the gas station flower bin for his BAE, who he was publicly in love with behind my back. I learned all of this because I decided to follow him on twitter. He lied about it until he couldn’t lie about it anymore. He was a Scorpio and I believe ALL Scorps lie. * shrug * They can be caught red handed and will swear it’s not them you see. He was no different. When it was all over and done with, I was out money, time, ass, love, respect and effort that I could have saved for someone who was actually interested. I had never been a money giver in the past. If you read through some of the older blogs, you will know that I have come to terms with my desperation to find and keep love. It’s always been a challenge for me and he was my last hope after spending too much time in an old relationship that went nowhere slowly. When this man hurt me, it crushed me. It was like instead of running over me, he drove a semi on top of me, put it in park and went to sleep right there on top of my body. Big truck and all.
I struggled to get past what I saw online and how embarrassed I was from it all. I struggled to maintain myself as a strong woman and too many times, I considered doing things that I had never done to anyone in my life before, that would have certainly landed me in court. In short – I lost myself. He killed what was left of the ‘pushover’ me, and I was having a hard time being tasked with burying my own remains. I didn’t know who or what remained of me because this time, I wasn’t just hurt by him and his actions. I had a culmination of every man who had hurt me prior jump into my skin and make me deal with the pain. So not only was I angry at this man for how he played and humiliated me, I was at him for putting me in a position where I had to finally emotionally deal with the other disappointments in my heart. I grieved for what seemed like forever. It was January 2014. It would take until June/July 2015 before I forgave him.
In the time in between the hurt and forgiveness, I sat in a casket and played in the dirt repeatedly. I cried randomly, hard some days and simple whimpers on other days. I was embarrassed for the entire year and a half. I carried it with me and in front of people who knew we were once a thing, I tried to find privacy behind my reflection while screaming out my hurt through my mouth. I was ashamed of myself and the truth was, most people didn’t know what all happened or when. They weren’t privy to the inboxes back and forth before or after the ship sank, but I was. And it haunted me daily. I would go to his girl’s page (because of course, that’s who she was by Valentine’s day, which stung me even harder) and look at pictures of them doing ‘couple things’ and it would feel like I was reburying myself all over again. I tortured myself. I sought them out on social media in every platform I could get into and watched their relationship continue to blossom while secretly hoping for it to fold. It never did. Eventually, I was blocked. I never left comments, but women know when another woman is looking. When I went through their twitter feeds, I could tell she knew I existed but that he sold her a different story. I knew it because he had some ‘tale of a stalking, angry black woman’ that he sold me at first and my responses were damn near exact to what his new woman’s responses were on twitter. It was so weird because I was looking at myself with him (by way of her) but from the ending chapter. I was never upset with her. Never. I was always pissed with him. He used both of us to his advantage and it worked until it didn’t. And my anger seemed to grow by the days because of the trolling and remembering and the songs I had attached to him that I would play. I listened to sad, depressing love songs and cried while I was at work. I wrote blog after blog (they are still there on Blogger) and tried to write my way back to living but in reality, I felt like I was dead. Not because my hopeful love story didn’t work out but because I had allowed so much shit to happen to me, on my own watch, and now I was reaping the sow. I had prayed for a sign from God if he wasn’t the one for me. God sent me a sign or three and I ignored them, even though I acknowledged them. I eventually was broken down to my knees unlike anything before. By the end of 2014, when I started creating my first vision board, I knew I could not go into another year with this nigga in tow on my brain. I had to find my way to forgiving him. I spent every waking moment attempting it after that.
What Does It Take?
Forgiveness takes a few things in order to be a success. The first thing it takes is forgiving YOURSELF (keep in mind this is all my OPINION, based on my own life) !!!
This is such an important and huge step. Part of the reason I stayed stuck in the spin cycle of anger and pain and unable to move forward was because I hadn’t forgiven him and I couldn’t begin to forgive him because I was too pissed off at myself. I had no excuse to not know better and I replayed the many places I went wrong all of 2014. I had been through much worse and because I chose to reach out to God and when he reached back, I ignored him as if I knew better than He, I couldn’t get over me. I couldn’t make sense of myself or understand my line of thinking and action. I couldn’t accept that this was just a loss for the team and that the team entered the game with desperation. That was embarrassing to think about it, so I avoided it. I avoided myself….ha. YOU CAN”T AVOID YOURSELF !!!!! Here I was writing and performing these Women Empowerment poems and telling men in stanzas what type of love I would not be accepting, only to be secretly accepting even less than that. I struggled through my reflection all of 2014. Facebook’s On This Day never ceases to let me forget my struggles. But by the year’s end and as I attached different pieces on my vision board, I began to wonder how I could possibly accomplish the things I wanted to in 2015 if I was stuck living in 2013?
Be Ok With Sometimes. . .
An awakening: that’s what it takes for you to forgive you. It takes for you to recognize that something has to change. That you are not the same as you were prior to the offense and that you are not currently in a better state because of it. You have to be ok with allowing yourself, your ADULT self, to be human (because sometimes we are even harder on ourselves due to our age….we should know better. We should do better. We’ve already done this before…why the same mistake again). Humans make mistakes. Sometimes these mistakes are huge ones, sometimes they are lapses in judgment or ridiculous actions that are just shy of regrettable. Sometimes we put our trust in the wrong hands and our money in the wrong banks, but we have to be ok with SOMETIMES. We have to make mistakes in life in order to learn, grow and get to the next stop. We have to be ok with sometimes making mistakes. We have to accept that those mistakes and the emotions associated with them after the fact are sometimes our own faults and that they don’t make us less than who we are. They just solidify our human.
Also, you have to be ready. You can’t be ready without having made peace with ‘being ok with sometimes’. You can’t be ready if you haven’t forgiven yourself. I spent an entire year of not being ok. There were so many blessings and great moments and times that I enjoyed ‘in the moment’ but after it passed, I slid easily back into my growing bitterness. Eventually, I started recognizing how I was changing into a bitter woman. Six months after the fact, he was still living his life and loving his woman and I was at home, stewing. Alone. I was in that situation with him by myself. I was hurting by myself. I was angry at myself and now here I was turning so bitter by myself. I actually spoke it out loud to a room of other women: “I’m too bitter to date anyone.”
When the words came out of my mouth, I felt embarrassed. I knew if I could speak it out loud that I was indeed bitter, not only was I that, but I was also ridiculous. Was I gonna let HIM make ME bitter? Was I down to let any of these old flames make me into something I had never been???? WHY?
I had officially claimed my steak on a trashcan lid. But once that new year started to approach and I recalled that all this madness took place on New Year’s Day, I realized that what happens ON or around the start of a new year can (if you allow) dictate how the rest of your year goes. I had allowed 2014 to be a wash of emotional torture (not just him, there were other things going on as well). As 2015 stood on the cusp, I had to get in position. I had to run for my life. I had to forgive myself so that I could forgive him and both of these things needed to happen as soon as possible so that I may live the rest of my life without the past wrapping around my shoulder like a faux mink stole. So I did. I began by injecting the idea into my mind that “I forgive you”…and I was speaking to Kendria when I said it.
What does it take to forgive? It takes for you to be ready. You need to have had enough of living in your anger/hurt/trauma/etc. You have to mentally be ready to let go. You have to be ok with sometimes making a mistake. You have to be ok with being human. You have to forgive YOU first. Then you can begin to forgive someone else.
What does it look like?
It looks like you. It smells like you, when you are fresh out of the shower or even when you are waking from one of those peaceful vacation sleeps. Forgiveness doesn’t look like ‘I’ll bust the windows to your car’. It doesn’t look like you going to jail over someone else. It doesn’t look like you making threats to someone else nor does it look like harassment. Forgiveness is the color of love. It’s the end of the sky. It is the twinkle in the stars. Forgiveness looks like my dog’s eyes when they are sorry and because they are not human, cannot actually say it. Forgiveness is peace. It looks like a peace sign. But sometimes it’s battered, bruised and nearly broken down. Sometimes it has bandages all over it and has spent a little time in the emergency room, but it’s still viable. The heartbeat of forgiveness is immortal. It is eternal, like God. So it looks like you. Like the God IN you.
But it’s not you in fighting tears as you attempt to find resolution without it. It does not look like you stressing with swollen eyes while you try one more time to ‘make it work’ or ‘let them explain’. It does not look like you sacrificing yourself in the name of someone else being happy with walking over you. Forgiveness essentially looks like you, staring in the mirror and pulling the rainbows from between your teeth. There is gold at the end of those rainbows just waiting for you to collect. Forgiveness looks like Gold.
What must you do?
Let go. This is an easy one to describe, but not so easy to actually go through with. But it is very necessary. You have to let go of replays. Stop rewinding the words and looking at the old messages for context clues of when things went south (for whatever you are needing to forgive for). When I would sit and troll through our old threads, I would get heated all over again. I would see things I missed the first time and want to respond to them. I would end up with new questions, refreshed anger and miles of backtracking. I held onto pictures and gifts that I took back (sure did do that). I kept these ghosts in my house recycling the energy I put into them for him and that which he left on them items he once owned. It’s just like a debt that’s passed the seven years. If a creditor sells your debt to a new creditor, they can call you and try to collect on the outstanding debt. You don’t have to answer the call and if you do, you don’t have to give them any information. The best possible thing for you to do is not give ANY information. I would just hang up on them. It won’t hurt you seven years after the fact if they didn’t get to hear your voice. BUT –
…if you answer that phone and start talking with them and giving them any information or answering any of their questions, congratulations!!! You have just recycled a 7-year debt that should have fallen off your credit back into heavy rotation. Now instead of it falling off, you will owe whatever they are trying to collect and they can take any and all measures to try to get it, including garnishing your pay. I’ve had this happen to me. A debt that was over 7 years old was sold to a new company. I didn’t know better and when they called, I gave them what they were looking for: an idiot’s conversation. By the time the call ended, I had restarted this debt that wasn’t even on my credit report anymore. They got all the way to garnishing my pay for the next 5 years before I had to make the hard decision to file bankruptcy on a debt that I should never have answered the call for and a credit score that I had worked hard to raise (and was well on the way to heavy sevens). In the end, I had to start over because I restarted an old debt. Letting go is the same concept. If you go into old books, chats, threads, texts, letters, etc and begin looking and reading, you are reopening that account. ANY healing you have done will go out the door. You will restart from the beginning of your anger and your path to forgiving both self and someone else will be stunted even more. Don’t set yourself back.
See that line in that Gif? Stop trying to control everything. That’s what we do when we don’t forgive. We are subconsciously trying to control the outcome. We think we can make them say what we need to hear. We can make them give us an explanation that will help (it won’t help). We can’t do any of that. What is done is done and now is the time to deal with it. Start by removing reminders. Throw away everything. Delete what doesn’t serve you. Letting go is a process and although it’s really a mental process, the physical things we have to show for people or that represent people are the things that will make the mental process unable to happen. Let trash be the trash…not your private dancer.
Finally…… don’t wait for I’m Sorry.
You won’t always get it. You can’t latch your ability or desire to forgive to someone else’s apology. Sometimes apologies are pure bullshit anyway. Folks say I’m sorry with the same lips they say fuck you over with. They kiss you with filth and then apologize for not brushing rather than apologizing for ever having their lips attached to someone else’s body in the first place. Apologies come from a place of perception. Since we all perceive everything as individuals, it doesn’t even matter if an explanation is present; people will still apologize from where they are in life and what they perceive they need to apologize for. That may or may not be the I’m sorry you were looking for.
I waited for that dude to just tell me he was sorry. I waited so long, I told him I was waiting. I still waited after that. It took a lot out of him for him to even say he was sorry at all, but his apology wasn’t for me. I don’t know if it was even for him. I’m not exactly sure who his apology was for – maybe his girlfriend? He didn’t apologize that he hurt me, lied to me, embarrassed me and he didn’t apologize for any of the opportunities he had to be honest with me that he CHOSE otherwise. To this day, I don’t know what his apology was for as I know for a fact that he was convinced his wrong was not that bad. It was a buzzkill. A missed orgasm and a lost friendship that never really existed in the first place. His ‘sorry’ felt like watching a trending video that everyone says ‘you must watch this’ and when you do, you spend the duration of the video waiting for the reason you clicked play. His sorry was not only an undercurrent with no ability to carry; it was useless in the grand scheme. I was caught even more in the vortex of my broken heart.
But that end of the year changed it.
I forgave myself before 11:59 turned into 2015. I forgave him slowly in the months moving forward. It was not instant and I don’t want this blog to sound that way. Forgiveness is a not a microwavable sport. It still took me until late spring/early summer to realize the forgiveness had taken place. Sometimes you have to speak it out loud and sometimes, you don’t. You just realize something great is different inside of you. The things that bothered you to see or hear, don’t bother you all of a sudden. The hurt you would wake up with, the betrayal you sting from and the lack of loyalty points gathered on the other person’s end don’t dictate how your attitude will be for the day. You realize you are a different…finally. And then it hits you that the difference is forgiveness. It starts at the Ready.Set.Go!
It starts at allowing yourself to be human and forgiving yourself for not ‘doing better’, ‘knowing better’ or ‘being better’. You did the best you could do in your judgment, your actions, your choices and your life. If we don’t make mistakes in living and with people, we won’t know that we grow because we will have nothing to grow from. But we cannot grow without forgiveness.
God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son. . .
It was his greatest example of forgiveness. The thing is, although there is God within us, we are NOT God. We are NOT Jesus. We don’t forgive as easily or without pause like He did. We tell each other to do it cause God did it, but that does nothing to forge a bond with moving on and being hurt tremendously by another person (who in some cases, can’t or won’t apologize). Yes if you are a believer, then God should direct you to forgive automatically but I say if you are a human, that can be quite challenging now matter your level of belief. Until we can walk on the top of water, we won’t be able to operate exactly like Jesus. We can do some of the things he did (i.e. forgiveness), but it won’t be half as easy. At some point in life, I do believe it’s possible to get better with forgiving people, but if you are in need of this blog (or if you are me), then forgiveness, as necessary as it is, is still a hard process. If you believe in God, pray for your ability to forgive. Pray for the discernment in your future choices regarding people and actions. Don’t expect forgiveness to be easy. Don’t expect it to be as smooth with it as Jesus. (the same can be said for non-believers as well). Expect a process…..sometimes a long one. Expect to struggle, to kick and fight it and to have to ward off a lot of yearning to take forgiveness into your own hands. But know that if you see the process out, if you allow yourself the opportunity to forgive yourself and then forgive the person who trespassed against you, you are freeing up yourself and reopening your heart. The other person is going to live their life with or without giving you an apology or gaining your forgiveness. They most times won’t know or at least won’t be bothered by the plethora of emotions you are feeling in regards to them. Forgiveness kills that.
But it’s not simple.
It’s not easy.
It’s not something that opening up the bible and putting your finger on a suggested scripture will get done for you. It’s something YOU have to agree to DO for yourself. A scripture is only going to speak to you so much (or not at all) and the same goes with this blog. Forgiveness comes on its own timing but you have to be the person to say ‘I’m Ready.’ But the minute you look yourself in the face and forgive yourself FIRST, then you begin the process of forgiving someone else and you, in turn, will be set f r e e . . .
NOTE: This blog uses an old relationship to tell my journey with forgiveness but please let this apply to any/all aspects that require forgiving YOURSELF and someone else. Love.