What Happens When You Can't Forgive?

In this article - let's talk abut that dreaded word for some "forgiveness". At one point or another in our lives, we have all been told to we must forgive. We have either heard it from a family member or the minister in church saying we must forgive. I am sure you know the phrase "turn the other cheek". So, when someone stomps on your right hip, turn over and let them do the same on the left side. OK, that's a joke, but you get my point. Let's get real - Would you do this? I wouldn't - at least not now. I thought the people who said this were either wimps who were ok with being run over repeatedly by other people or they just didn't get it.


It has taken me a long time - no - a really long time to figure out how forgiveness really works and why I had to forgive. Everyone talks about "we have to forgive" - but no one explained 'why' to me in a way that I would even try to forgive deep hurts. My philosophy was "you hurt me" "I will never forgive you" - or if I did forgive, it wasn't completely. Little did I know there were consequences for my 'then' belief system of non forgiveness?

Why should I forgive someone who hurt me? They were the one who did me wrong.  It felt right, not to forgive. I was being righteous - I know, but that is how I felt and how dare anyone tell me other wise.


I have found that regardless of the sizes of the deed done there are consequences for the person who was harmed. We halt our evolution - we stop growing. There is a block hindering us from moving forward in a good way, in our lives. We all know someone who is constantly angry, depressed, never happy, complaining, and not pleasant to be around. We also know someone who is a door mat, letting everyone run over them - no boundaries. They have the need to please - never saying "no" to anything. Their needs are never met because it is all about the other. Both the angry person and the door mat person go through life unhappy and feeling alone. And let me say, the door mat is also angry; it is just hidden below the surface. That is what I did for many years. I hid my anger behind a smile - yes, I was the door mat. These are all consequences of non forgiveness.


Now the root causes of the above ways of being are complex and unique to each person, however by not forgiving - we hold on to the hurt and pain which sours any joy we might have and damages our spirit.


Forgiveness is the only way to free ourselves emotionally from those consequences. Forgiveness does not mean that we condone another person's behavior or that there shouldn't be consequences for their actions. That said - what purpose does holding on to the pain serve for "YOU"? In the long run - it will eat you alive if you let it.


When I started on my journey of self discovery - I found that at some point I kept being faced with needing to forgive someone. In the beginning, I refused. Side note: One lesson I have learned is that the Universe is very patient. It will wait an eternity for us to get it. That is, for us to learn how to be in this world, with joy which is our goal. A key part in getting to this point is forgiveness. I found that when I worked on an issue - it wasn't completely cleared until I forgave. That sucked in the beginning. What I also found was - as I worked on an issue in an authentic way, forgiveness came naturally - which was odd to me at first. After a while, I knew that I wasn't done or complete unless I could feel the forgiveness in my heart. It couldn't be faked - it had to be real.


Each time I forgave = I found that I felt lighter in my being. I didn't quite understand what was happening but I do know that I felt better. I had heard the phrase "A weight was lifted off me" - and it was happening to me. Small shifts began to occur. I learned to set better boundaries and the anger I had carried for so long began to lift. Over time, I found myself, really happy, for no reason.


I will tell you a story to illustrate my point - it is a true story. Hopefully, it will demonstrate what happens when we don't forgive. It is just one of the many life events that taught me about the many aspects of forgiveness and non forgiveness.  


This is a childhood story but the effects lasted far into adulthood.


When I was about 6 years old, I moved to Memphis to be raised by my babysitter. (Why this happened is a long story - which I won't get into in this article.) Granny as I called her had a daughter, who was much older than me. She would have been in her thirties by the time I arrived. In any event, I was very happy to have a "big sister". I am an only child, so to have someone to call sister was wonderful. I did call her "big sister" too. Little did I know - that the feelings were not reciprocal. I heard her tell granny (babysitter) "Why did you bring her here? She will only grow up and bring a lot of babies into this house" - strike one. I over looked these remarks on the surface but they were being imprinted on my spirit. I was rarely included in any activity arranged for her kids - there were 5, the youngest was 3 years older than me. Most Christmas', I would sit in her living room and watch everyone open their presents and not get any myself. Out of the 14 years I lived there, she gave me two presents - a Barbie doll and a pair of skates. I was very happy to receive both. For my part, I only wanted to have my love for her reciprocated - it never happened. I wanted to feel loved and included in a family. This is what all kids want and deserve. I will spare you the details of every incident, the point is - at some point I gave up trying to get her love. It happened a short while after she didn't come to my high school graduation. I shut the door in my heart to her. There was no way I would allow myself to continually be hurt by her. I still was respectful and went through the motions as if nothing had changed. I waited until granny crossed over before ending all contact. I stopped calling and since she rarely ever called me, the relationship was over. I was done with her and in my mind, I was ok with that.


What I didn't know is that - I wasn't done. I carried all those years of pain around with me. I had just numbed the pain and driven it into my sub conscious to affect every aspect of my life choices without me knowing it. For the record, I left Memphis when I was 21 and when granny crossed I was 30. I was in my 40's before I healed the pain from those years. By healing - I freed myself to continue on my path in a wholesome healthy way. What happened to me as a child was not right but by healing it I stopped the pain. I stopped carrying the baggage. If we have to use words like "winner and triumph" - I triumphed. I can't be hurt by the past any more.


This is what I wish for you: It is time to heal past hurts through forgiveness'. Hopefully my story will help you to see the bigger picture of forgiveness and the benefit of letting go of past hurts. That is the only way to triumph over the pain we have all experienced.  


Don't wait - Start Forgiving Authentically Now!