From The Art of Forgiveness, Lovingkindness, and Peace by Jack Kornfield
“Forgiveness does not happen quickly. For great injustice, coming to forgiveness may include a long process of grief, outrage, sadness, loss, and pain.
True forgiveness does not paper over what has happened in a superficial way. It is not a misguided effort to suppress or ignore our pain. It cannot be hurried. It is a deep process repeated over and over in our heart which honors the grief and betrayal, and in its own time ripens into the freedom to truly forgive.”
This exert jumped out at me today. I’ve been reading this book on and off for a couple of years now in an effort to gleam some inner peace that comes from forgiveness, so that I will be better able to provide everyone I come in contact with some loving-kindness. I’ve done myself and others a great injustice in my life by repeatedly believing that there is one way to apologize and that to apologize is to gain almost instantaneous forgiveness. However, I’ve only began to understand that this is not the way this works. No matter where my belief originated it must be corrected in a much timelier manner.
Why now? Why does this quote make sense now? Because I have gained appreciate for deep hurts that I feel and that I’ve caused. Perhaps two of my greatest friends of all time have been owed an apology for a few years. One of the relationships was terminated entirely because of my manipulative and deceitful behavior, where as the other relationship, while not formally terminated teetered on string before my face of what I was missing out on. That was also due to manipulative behavior.
Both people I have nothing but love for in my heart and both people I manipulated. In both cases I was just being selfish. I did not understand that each person had real love for me until years after both of them were removed from my life. If not daily, then weekly I wanted to reach out to each person to just talk or discuss some matter of preoccupation in mind and I could not. It took a few years for me to understand that this was a result of MY behavior, not theirs. It took over a year to finally apologize to both.
The other reason I bring this up is because of a heartache that was just thrusted on me this previous weekend. My boyfriend and I broke up. He broke up with me about three weeks after I broke up with him. Unbeknownst to him, I truly felt backed into a corner with needs of mine that were not being met in our relationship and I did what I truly didn’t want to do, but at the same time felt was necessary for preservation of my self worth and my sanity. We wound up working out everything in that call, but things were very different, which I knew to expect. Then three weeks later of him speaking to me less and less (the very reason I broke up with him in the first place) he breaks up with me. I have felt so many emotions over the past two days it isn’t even humorous. How could my boyfriend who told me he never felt the way he felt about me with anyone else before, the man who planned nuptials and children’s names with me actually break up with me? It made no sense. Every feeling of rejection and betrayal surfaced. How could the one man that I am so in love with actually not return my feelings? Every part of me believed that this man and I would wind up married with adorbs little babies. Our plans matched. After we broke up I even commented to a few of my friends that I truly believed he and I belonged together and that we would be together, but I felt silly feeling that way. I even prayed to G-d that if I was wrong, that if we didn’t belong together that I could see that soon, but that if we did belong together that something would give.
I bring this experience up because it involves a lot of necessary forgiveness. It wasn’t rational for me to expect that my boyfriend could forgive me instantly for breaking up with him even if we did work out the issues in that same call. Nor was it rational of me to think that I could easily forgive the amount of hurt he was putting me through by not taking the time to call me. (We live 260 miles away from each other; phone time is imperative to a long distance relationship.) Somewhere down the road I learned that a sincere apology equals quick forgiveness, but I’m wrong. I’ve created not only unfair expectations for others to forgive me as soon as I say I’m sorry, but also that I myself must immediately be okay when an apology is given to me.
I’m living proof that forgiveness is an on going process and must be repeated over and over again within the heart. A trigger can send me back to traumatic experiences that happened over 15 years ago and I’m a little fireball of rage and depression all over again. The confusion that results from feeling anger about something that happened so long ago, something that “I was over” is detrimental sometimes up to weeks or months at a time. Forgiveness is continually being processed and a decision that sometimes has to be made daily.
Additionally, it was Yom Kippur that I listened to my rabbi discuss methods of forgiveness. He said that one can “forgive and forget”, “forgive and work forward with the person they are forgiving” or you can “forgive and move on.” Different circumstances will require different outcomes. Ultimately forgiveness is up to each of us and for each of us. I’ve noticed that by sincerely apologizing to both friends has allowed me to forgive myself for my behavior and focus instead on improving what my behavior is. I don’t like deceitful or manipulative behavior directed at me and I have to make sure that my behavior is honest and kind.
Who would have thought forgiveness could be exciting?