I heard this in a conversation between Oprah and Brené Brown yesterday and it really resonated with me.
Forgiveness is something that has always eluded me. I can't say I quite understand the concept.
For a long time, I thought it meant just moving on and letting go of the hurt from the past.
A big part seemed to be forgetting what someone had done to hurt me in order to maintain the relationship. It seemed selfish to hold on to past pain and not move on.
But I realized that in doing that I was sometimes opening myself up to being hurt again. And I was also often expecting the person who had hurt me to be different after I forgave them. Like my forgiveness would be some kind of catalyst for outer change.
But it doesn't work that way.
So what does have to die for forgiveness to occur?
I think when Brené talks about death she is equating it with grieving. And I think part of the process of forgiveness involves grieving our own pain. Not just shoving it down and pretending it did not happen because that would suit those around us or even ourselves. It means honouring the fact that we have been hurt and that we have a right to sadness, anger and even feelings of hatred. These are normal emotions when someone betrays us mentally, emotionally or physically. We have to allow the process of grief, of feeling our emotions, our pain. Just like we would a three year old who is crying because he scraped his knee. We don't tell him to be quiet and stop crying. We hold him, hug him and let him cry it out, knowing that he will feel better after he does. The same goes for our own pain. We will not be able to forgive those who have hurt us if we do not allow ourselves the process of grief.
And like every thing else, it's inner work.
We have to acknowledge and grieve our own pain and not expect others to do that work for us.