I used to hold grudges. You didn’t even need to really hurt me for me to never…speak to you…again. At 12, I even stopped talking to a boy when he dated my then-friend. I liked him. He didn’t know it — no one did. But I was still so angry.
My inability to forgive hardened me. I carried a chip on my shoulder all through adolescence — and not just because I was a pubescent teen. I just remember feeling scorned, as if people were “out to get me.” And so I was tough and rarely vulnerable.
However, life teaches us how to forgive, whether we want to or not. My biggest lesson in forgiveness was at 20, when I forgave the man who I thought I was in love with, but who was just using me.
I’ve talked about Kurt. He was the bad boy, the big man on campus that I fell for because I couldn’t break my bad relationship pattern. What I didn’t mention was how he emotionally abused me, how he stripped me naked one night when I was drunk. He took advantage of me instead of turning me away.
I wasn’t sexually assaulted, no. Thank God it didn’t get that far. When I asked him to stop, he stopped but not immediately. He was even angry at me.
And some would say I shouldn’t have shown up at his dorm room in a drunken state. Some may even say I was asking for it. All I wanted was for him to love me, to want me. Instead he treated me like a rag doll. He didn’t care that I cared and only cared about one thing — himself.
Still, I forgave him.
Two years later, when he was practically homeless and in need, I offered him a place to stay. And our relationship changed. I changed. I released my anger and the hurt.
I could forgive.
So, if you ever find yourself embittered by life, in a state of negativity or filled with anger and envy toward another, reach out. Help the very person you cannot forgive. Help them when they are vulnerable. Forgive them. But most importantly, forgive yourself.