oracle You said “The thing I think I’m struggling with the most is what does forgiveness look like?”
In my opinion Forgiveness, like Love is NOT an emotion. It is a behavior, or rather a series of actions toward an individual and those behaviors are non-dependent on the other person. Although how you “feel” may be altered by how someone else behaves…. you can love someone (on any level) regardless of how they treat you.
How you FEEL is, to some degree, involuntary and it’s ALWAYS valid… no matter what you feel. How you BEHAVE….. well, that’s on you.
I have had 2 or 3 serious major issues in my life to overcome and I ALWAYS start with forgiveness. Because it is concrete. It is how I treat them…. even though I am angry and hurt…. I can still be civil. I can take ownership of and correct/right anything I am doing in the relationship that is not helpful (ie – vindictive behavior or passive-agressive behavior or excessive emotion or sometimes even staying in the relationship).
This is where you get to to take back control. And, honestly, a lot of this depends on your relationship with them and your intent to stay or leave the relationship….. Am I bad-mouthing them? Am I trying to sabotage their successes? Am I allowing them to continue to hurt others by my silence? Am I creating a scene when we are together? Am I “withholding” positive behaviors? In my “defense” of myself or my position am I ADDING emotion etc etc etc.
Forgiveness is NOT “acting like nothing ever happened”. It doesn’t matter if they THINK they did anything wrong. It just seems like it does because you feel like their admittance is necessary to validate your emotions. First this is not true (see above – how you feel is how you feel). However, this tells me that your OVERALL relationship with this person is unhealthy (or you are hyper-emotional…. but let’s assume these other people are the irrational ones!). Knowing you are dealing with an unhealthy situation should give you some additional information / perspective to use in order to take control of your relationship with them and get it on the right track to being healthy.
Greiving and acceptance take time. And I agree most of this is about re-framing your expectations of that person or the situation. It really is “fake it till you make it”. Especially if you are obsessive in any way… ie – if you are trying to get over an affair…. shred or delete any evidence so that you aren’t re-reading emails, constantly looking at pictures etc. Write down ONE positive thing today. Tomorrow write down 2 etc. Schedule and make yourself devote time to things that bring you joy…. doesn’t matter what they are. And yes, you have time. because you will distract your mind from negative energy and that is important.
My therapist one time told me this….. You will know you have forgiven someone when you chose to give up the right to hurt someone because they hurt you. She also said “forgiveness is choosing to give up the hope that things should have been different”.
The only other pearl of wisdom from her that I will share is this….. “There is a direct correlation between how much you are hurting and how badly you behave”. So, even if that person (or those people) don’t THINK they did you wrong….. if they didn’t behave “right” then it means they are in pain. Know that they are in pain, even if they can’t admit it.