At first glance one would think these are opposites, but NO! They go hand in hand and are so deeply entrenched that we cannot have one without the other. How so, you ask. Surely if one has forgiven another, then one has no un-forgiveness. In my humble opinion and experience, no. The un-forgiveness I am referring to is self un-forgiveness.
After someone has wronged us and followed up with an apology – or not, we tend to think that the case is closed. Not so. The interaction evoked some sort of emotion within at that time, whether we felt hurt, foolish, anger or a feeling of being less than. This same emotion will surface time and again; every time we visit the same place or think of the incident/person. We might even go out of our way to avoid contact with the person or stop going to that particular place where the incident occurred. Well, this is the un-forgiveness I am referring to, that place inside you that continued to be impacted by something that happened in the past. We might even rationalize that we have forgiven that person, but….. We need to forgive ourselves for hanging onto those emotions in the first place.
Whatever transpired in the unfolding of the event or whatever was said to invoke those emotions is a judgment against us by someone else. We are not responsible for what others think, feel, do or say, only what we think, feel, do or say. Now that does not mean we must block all emotion in instances such as these, you felt the emotion…..yes, you did; you can acknowledge that emotion. Know how it feels, and then let it go. It is hanging onto that emotion that entrenches it into our ego and it becomes a belief. We are supposed to feel emotion – it is part of our human experience – but not to hang on to it or not to let it define who we become. In hanging onto the emotion as a lesson – “I forgive but will never forget” – we negate all forgiveness and remain in self un-forgiveness. It is this un-forgiveness that will precipitate more experiences in the same vein. In short, until we learn the lesson and make the necessary attitude adjustments, the lesson will re-occur. And so we relive the moment over and over again in different scenarios, remaining stuck.
My defining lesson, my personal defining moment and lesson in un-forgiveness came after my son passed and I decided to write I Chose This! I have not written about this in the book. Both my daughter Candice and Steven had passed as a result of non-action or actions by a third party. I held both parties in un-forgiveness until Candice and Steven had illustrated to me that these third parties had indeed assisted in the process of leaving this incarnation. It all made sense in the greater scheme of things and allowed me to openly say I forgive them (one had taken responsibility for his actions while the other openly denied all responsibility). Yet I still struggled with the crippling pain that I just could not escape from.
After Steve’s accident, I had copied the cell phone number of the taxi driver into my cell phone under “Killer”. I later changed it to his name as it appeared on the police report once I had decided to forgive him and after a time I decided to delete his number off my phone. Now please keep in mind this was over a span of 3 years. In that space of time, I changed phones twice and had a scenario where I had a malfunction on my phone whereby I lost all data and had to painstakingly re-enter all contacts one at a time. Each time his number would appear once again on my phone under “Killer” like this horrible nightmare come back to haunt me. It was after this last time I that I had decided to completely delete him from my phone forever. In 2015, I acquired a new phone and transferred all my data over to the new phone and yes, there was his name and number. It was like a piece of bubblegum stuck to my shoe! I just could not get rid of his name and number.
I believe nothing happens by accident, so this set me on another review of how deeply I had actually gone with my forgiveness. I rehashed all avenues, did some inner work and was satisfied I had resolved all un-forgiveness issues. I deleted his name and number once more. While I was writing my book, I struggled with having to journey through each painful memory all over again, but I used the opportunity to work through many of the issues as they surfaced and one of them was forgiving me for feeling the emotions attached to these third-party individuals who I had had such strong emotions towards. I was entitled to feel those emotions, but I had never really, truthfully released them. I have worked on that and now have developed deep compassion towards those two men. I am truly sorry that they had to go through this. The moment I released forgiveness for myself, I felt a huge release of the pain, almost like a weight lifting off of my chest. It has been replaced by a quiet joy that all is well and an inner peace that continues to grow. I do have relapses. I notice when the emotions rise up, then I do a reality check and self-correct. It is becoming much easier too.
Three months ago, I acquired a new phone and meticulously deleted all obsolete contacts before transferring data to the new phone. And lo and behold, whose number would show up. I did not check at the time but spotted it some weeks later when I was searching for a specific contact. I had no emotion attached to seeing the name and deleted it once more. I think this will be the last time I have to delete it.
The whole point of this story is to illustrate that if we do not resolve all issues of forgiveness, both to the other party and within ourselves for “allowing” others to impact our lives, then we will continue to be faced with the emotions which in fact hold us captive in our self created prison. Then we are not taking full responsibility for our lives.