Anyone who reads this blog can pretty much piece together my life and paint a decent picture of the difficulties that I have been faced with, especially recently. I hold no shame to that. I wear my heart on my sleeve and will never regret that. I think it takes courage to not hide behind a mask and pretend you’re feeling something that you’re not. It is while hiding nothing that the truth reveals itself and life can fall into place as it is meant to.
This past Sunday I returned home from the Kairos retreat that Canisius offers. If you haven’t gone on one and you have the opportunity, you absolutely must. It is invigorating and refreshing. I did not walk out of that retreat feeling like an entirely new person, but I will tell you what I did walk away with: a little more peace of mind, a calmness in my heart, and a support system that I never knew existed and am forever grateful for.
The biggest thing that I learned on my retreat was that forgiveness takes time. I am the type of person who hates holding onto negativity and bad feelings, especially bad feelings toward others. I don’t believe it’s good to foster anything but happiness inside of you. However, sometimes the things or people that require forgiveness have hurt you too much to just say, “okay, you’re good, all is forgiven”. It doesn’t work like that.
Many people ask, “how do you forgive someone? What is it that you have to actually do?”. I have just recently forgiven someone from my past who hurt me very badly. It took me over a year to have the peace of mind and clarity to do so. And yet at the same time, I am still struggling to forgive people that are in my life right now. While I’m sure forgiveness is different for everyone, here is what I have learned:
Let yourself feel – whether that means crying over something that triggers a heartfelt memory, swearing at the top of your lungs because you feel so undeservedly betrayed, or allowing yourself to laugh so hard your stomach hurts, even if your heart still aches. Embrace each emotion as it comes and do your best not to hide them… they will always find a way out sooner or later.
Let go of the anger – this often means finding another emotion to replace the initial anger that comes over you when thinking of those who have hurt you. For me, that emotion was sympathy. You have to focus on your own value and your own worth. Once you are confident in all that makes you unique and beautiful, it will be easy to look at those who have hurt you and realize that they are the ones who have truly lost.
Think about it: they lost your trust, your companionship, your energy, your laughter, and most importantly, your love. But you still have all of those things. Trust yourself and your intuitions, find comfort in your strengths, live off of your positive energy, push through difficulty with your laughter, and love yourself beyond measure. If you can stay true to yourself, your values, morals, beliefs, and faith while somehow managing to push through unfathomable circumstances, you have already succeeded. You have already proved others wrong.
Sometimes it is impossible to see the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s difficult to not sulk and wonder “what good could possibly come from this?”. Your moods will swing from one end of the spectrum all the way to the next in a matter of moments and then throw your mind and heart for a loop and go back and forth all over again. But if at the end of the day you can look at yourself and know that you stayed true to your feelings, did your best to replace the anger with something positive, and reminded yourself of how beautiful, strong, and valuable you are, then you must remember, without an ounce of a doubt, that you will make it through whatever it is that has once knocked you down. You will stand back up, this time stronger, more confident, and wiser than ever before. That in itself, is a victory.