I’ve read a lot of articles about forgiveness recently, and the latest one entitled Revenge by Melodie Beattie, is probably the closest to honesty that we’re going to get. You see, I’m not sure if we actually tell the truth about our feelings when it comes to forgiving others. Melodie has tried to speak the truth to herself; she has allowed herself to feel the depth of the rage and the hurt, but she still goes on to try to find a way to forgive her transgressor in the midst of all that pain. To my mind, we’ve been sold a lot of ideas through our religious books about what we need to do to ‘earn’ God’s love, and forgiving others their transgressions against us is one of them. I suspect that a lot of the time, without even being aware of it, we are ‘forgiving’ others in order to earn a ticket into ‘heaven’. Our piety, in other words, is insurance against the wrath of God. In my world, insurance is bogus. God is part of us anyway. Divine love isn’t earned, its who we are. By returning to that love, we let go of concepts as ridiculous as forgiveness of others.
If we are really honest, we don’t actually forgive anything. To my way of seeing things, we are not able to forgive, nor is it our job to forgive. I’ve learned that we experience the other person in a truly negative way in order that we see something in ourselves; in order that we learn about an aspect of our nature that is hidden, suppressed. We are meant to feel pain and all the associated feelings of hate, revenge, anger, disgust, because that is how we meet with our hidden inner demons. The ill feelings that we have toward another is a gift, because then we can know how destructive those thoughts and ideas that are embedded within us actually are. Obsession with what someone has done to us is a meditation on our own transgressions against ourselves. If we continue obsessing throughout our lives, it means that the inner work is not finished. The concept of ‘forgiveness of others’ doesn’t exist. It’s an arrogance adopted by an untruthful personality who refuses to see the mirror of their own destructive beliefs.
So for me, forgiveness really only means one thing; we have seen the reflection of ourselves in the other person. We have owned the darkness and have transformed our own attitudes and behaviours. In other words we have forgiven ourselves. Who are we to forgive anyone? We don’t have the power to release anyone else from their darkness. Only they have that power. We are only responsible to ourselves.
I was sexually, mentally and physically abused as a child and teenager. At the age of fourteen I had a nervous breakdown because of the situation I was trapped in. I don’t forgive my father for any of it because it isn’t my job to. He was consumed with guilt until the day he died, but it was his job to understand his own nature; it was his task to discover what demons drove him. On my part, it was my job to discover what he mirrored in me, and my job to remove all beliefs about myself that caused such damage in the first place. I don’t obsess about my past anymore, and I had a truly loving relationship with my father in the last few years of his life. I knew exactly what he was and what he was capable of. I accepted that he had another side to him that was kind and giving. But I didn’t forgive him anything, because that would have been insanely arrogant. I wasn’t better than him. How could I have been? He mirrored what lay deep in the recesses of my being. I forgave myself by transforming into the person I am today.
So…free your mind. Let go of forgiveness and get into the business of ownership. Then forgive yourself. That is what I call self love.