As I sit here with my computer in my lap, I find myself thinking quite extensively about forgiveness: what it is, what it can do, and how to achieve it. I find myself mentally shuffling through all the people in my life who have hurt me and all the people I have in turn hurt in some way. When I really stop to think about it I find that both lists are equally long and hardly comprehensive. There are so many people that come and go that it seems nearly impossible to accurately recall each and every instance where one of us has experienced hurt, both causing it and being on the receiving end.
Furthermore, when it comes down to it I think that true forgiveness is something that is difficult to attain. It is the letting go of betrayal, guilt, or unhappiness caused by people who mattered to us in some way. As human beings, it is simply something that we have trouble doing. To let go is to acknowledge it, accept it, and see it for both its hideous nature and its beauty; something that few of us can truly do. None of us want to admit that something so painful could possibly have a positive effect because it is simply easier to see it in a negative light than to alter the way we think about it.
Following this train of thought, I am met with the overwhelming feeling that for many of us true forgiveness of past transgressions is sadly not an option. We all know that with time things tend to get easier; pain fades and the initial sting of betrayal wears off. The problem, however, lies with the memory of the betrayal; it alters our perception of the world and may stay with us to such a degree that moving on and letting go in its entirety is a stretch of the imagination. These reminders dictate our actions and lay the foundation for our futures. They force us to evaluate situations critically and to draw upon experience rather than emotion or how we are feeling in the now.
Changing the way we see something is beyond difficult especially when it is hardwired in our brains in this way; sometimes it may even seem impossible. How do we see the beauty in betrayal? How do we accept unhappiness caused by a loved one? How do we take an emotionally-charged memory and make it hurt less?
For me I think it begins by delving into the pain and asking how it changed me; how it took something from me and how it gave me something else instead. Did it make me more cautious? Did it make me more compassionate towards others? Did breaking a part of me fix something else that was broken?
I think we also must then take a moment to do the unthinkable and step outside of ourselves to experience an event from more than one angle. Every story has two sides and to only see it through one lens is to limit oneself; to miss the opportunity of seeing the bigger picture; to see that there is so much more than what meets the eye if only we are willing to take a moment to actually see rather than just look.
It’s easy to place blame and to see betrayal as a single-surfaced entity, but the fact of the matter is that reality is far from black and white. If anything life itself is a thousand shades of grey. As much as we would like to think that things are either right or wrong, we must accept the fact that no matter how right or wrong something may seem, there is always an in-between; a grey area that many of us find ourselves in. While we may not fully understand someone’s reasoning for doing the things he or she has done, we cannot assume that there was no reasoning at all. To assume such a thing would be a mistake.
With that being said we come back to the sad reality that many of us cannot or will not see beyond the hurt. We choose to ignore the shades of grey and take comfort in a state of grief until time works its magic. And even then forgiveness does not come easy. It is overwhelming and challenging every step of the way, but it is also essential if we are to lead happy and productive lives. To carry the weight of betrayal is to carry with us the weight of a life devoid of true happiness; for only through letting go and seeing the beauty of what was can we see the beauty of what is and what can be.
I’ve reached a point in my life now where I think I would very much like to and need to find this beauty; to find forgiveness to achieve happiness. So in this moment I am letting go. I am telling everyone who has ever hurt me in some way – my family, old friends, and even complete strangers – that I forgive you; that you have made me who I am and I thank you; I may not fully understand some of the things you have done, but I accept them and it’s time to find the peace that up until now I could not find.
Conversely, I would also like to take a moment to say that I know there are many of you out there who have been hurt by me in some way. I’ve caused as much pain as I have incurred and I hope that in time you’ll be able to forgive me too. Maybe one day you’ll finally see that nothing is as black and white as it seems; it’s all grey…a thousand beautiful shades of grey.
Until next time…stay classy.
– C.M. Berry
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