This Is What No One Wants To Tell You About Forgiveness


I am a bitter old hag. There, I said it. I admit it. I’m going to make peace with who and what I am because there is no use continuing to fight it.

Ah, forgiveness. It’s good and cleansing and all the other beautiful things it’s rumored to be. I’m not here to argue any of those things, because to some extent, they’re all true. But the reality is that not all of us can get there.

Forgiveness is far more complicated than the sweet platitudes, and I’ve heard them all. There’s that one about holding a grudge and expecting the other person to die, but you do. Or this immense weight lifted off of you that leaves you free. My personal favorite is that forgiveness has absolutely nothing to do with the other person, but is all about how you heal.

Okay. Once again, not everyone can get there. So I guess for the rest of us we remain weighted down, punishing ourselves while drowning in our own grudge juice.

I’m 40 years young. I feel fairly confident claiming I’ve forgiven people who I perceived have hurt me for the first 30 years of my life. Three-fourths ain’t so bad. Believe me when I say there was a whole lot of anger, pain, and resentment to process through.

It was hard. It was crawling-through-glass-with-acid-rain-pouring-down-on-me kind of hard. I did it because even a bitter old hag has her limits of survivable bitterness.

The biggest contributing factor was that most of those people were my peers. We were all young, insensitive, and selfish pricks to some extent. We hurt one another because we ourselves were hurting. At the time, we didn’t have the emotional capacity to handle it in a healthy way. We did the best we could with what we were working with. It was both okay and definitely not okay.

Since then, I’ve reconnected with most of those people on some level. Thank the gods for social media. From what I can tell, we’ve all matured and evolved past the insensitive, selfish pricks we once were. Well, most of us, anyway. Now we’re in a place where we can collectively laugh and laugh-cry about it all. Sometimes there may be adult beverages involved, and I’m not one to turn down a Pina Colada.

That brings us to the most recent decade of my life. Each preceding decade claimed they were the most bruised and battered. My thirties cackles at their ignorance.

The highlight reel of my most recent decade would include a divorce, a foreclosure, a strain of abusive relationships and friendships, the height of an untreated eating disorder, and a series of employers who crapped on me with the skill and precision of Olympic athletes.

This is definitely not a pity party. I survived the catastrophic shitstorm of my thirties when others may not have. My takeaway from making it out the other end is that I’m one badass bitch. It’s true. I have references you can ask.

Just because I’m a self-proclaimed badass bitch doesn’t mean I’m not still struggling with open wounds from what happened. Both things can be equally true. And they are.

Back to those platitudes I previously mentioned. I know I’m expected to be the bigger person. I know I’m supposed to forgive others in order to move on with my life. I know holding a grudge only really hurts me. Fill in the blank of whatever thing I should be doing and I’m not.

But I think I’m going to pass. I’m not interested right now. Maybe and hopefully I will be at some other point down the road.

The truth about forgiveness is that it’s MY choice. No one else’s. I choose when, how, and where. The “why” is completely up to me too. I’m allowed to be resentful, hateful, and spiteful towards those who have wounded me. It’s a basic right I have as a human being. No one can take that away from me. We’re constantly told it’s not okay to be those things. I think being told THAT is not okay. People shouldn’t force their forgiveness expectations onto others.

I am a bitter old hag because I choose to be. No one backed me into a corner. I’m not a victim here. I’m simply living my truth. Embracing my bitter old hag allows my kindness, compassion, and insight to shine through. It’s a crazy concept, and yet here I am.

I’m using all that energy I could spend fighting those perceived negative feelings to just live my life. The entire concept of negative feelings is complete bullshit too. Feelings are just feelings. The actions attached to those feelings may be positive or negative.

I’m not slashing tires or stealing kids’ ice cream cones, as tempting as those things may be. What I actually do is cry, scream, and process how the wounds happened. I throw profanities like a Tarantino movie at those who hurt me. I do all these things in a space where I feel safe. For those wondering, and I sincerely hope you are by this point, yes, I’m in therapy.

The truth about forgiveness is that it’s complicated. There isn’t one right or ultimate way to do it. There’s a personal style to it. My personal style is letting it fester for a bit. Sometimes I even take brief visits back in time to the first three decades of my life to throw a tantrum, and then I come back.

I always come back to where I want to be and how I want to exist. Currently, I want to exist as a bitter old hag. Tomorrow, it might be a Disney princess. Who the hell knows?!