I was laying in bed trying to fall asleep when I get this sudden emotion of sadness yet again. It could be due to my upcoming period, however, it wouldn't just go away and let me sleep. It kept me up thinking for a while. I decided that I needed to forgive SI so I can move on. Not that I have this bolted up anger towards his actions, that I was able to move past. But what has kept me so sad is the lack of follow through on those promises that we'd be together again. I know it sounds crazy, I should hate the guy, but I was more hurt that he didn't try enough to repair his damage. Anyway, I was thinking I should look up the 12 steps of AA to see if those rules would help me - but they seemed to only correlate a little. After a quick search online, I found two websites I liked about forgiveness steps, which I have copied & pasted below.
I hope to try them and then feel better. Enough is enough. Unfortunately I can't erase those memories but I WANT to stop thinking about it all the time. I don't know what I did in a past life, or even this life to deserve the torture of replaying the worst time of my life over and over every day. I just want it to end and I am now willing to try almost anything to make that happen. I finally fell asleep repeating "I want to be happy". It is such a simple phrase but it carries a lot of information that you can't see or understand - like the tip of the iceberg.
I will try both lists and hope that one/both will help. Stay tuned for updates on my progress or realizations derived from this experiment.
FIVE STEPS TO FORGIVENESS — by Catherine Morgan
When we are angry at people in our life. When we aren’t talking to people in our life. When we hate people in our life. When we are doing these things, we are weakening ourselves, we are hurting ourselves, we are hating ourselves. That is because, when we don’t forgive, we are allowing our heart to be weighed down with negativity. But, we already know that. So why do we do it? Why don’t we forgive? My theory is; that we really don’t know how to forgive. I mean, saying you “forgive” someone, isn’t really “forgiving” them, is it? What if there were actually steps you could take to forgive? Kind of a “12 step” program for forgiveness, only with less steps. See if this works for you. Because, when you forgive someone, you are pushing anger out of your heart and making more room for love to get in, and love is what really matters.
- WHY ARE YOU ANGRY AT THIS PERSON? You would not believe how many people are angry about something and don’t even remember why. So get a piece of paper out and write down why you are mad at this person. It may be one thing, or it may be a whole list. Just write it all down.
- THE GOOD THINGS. On another piece of paper write down all the good things this person has done for you over the years. (ie: If it’s your mother; she gave birth to you, that’s a pretty big one.) Did this person ever make you happy? Do anything nice for you? Make you smile or laugh? Be a good friend? Help you out of a jam? If so, write it down….all of it. This could be a long list or a short list, just make sure you make it an “honest” list.
- HOW DID I CONTRIBUTE TO THIS? On a third piece of paper write any way you may have contributed to the conflict. Be honest with yourself. It doesn’t help to think that you are totally without any responsibility in the situation, even if it is just a tiny bit. Write it down.
- CONTEMPLATE. With all three papers in front of you, take some time to really think how important this person is to you. Are they someone you wish was still in your life? Is it someone that you could never feel good having in your life anymore. Are they family? Ex? Depending on “who” they are to you, will depend on what type of relationship you choose to have with this person after you forgive them. Remember, you are forgiving this person for yourself, not for them. So, if you think it is better for you not to see this person, then so be it. You may decide that for the sake of your children or your family it would be better to allow this person back into your life. Or, you might realize you have been miserable without this person in your life and want them back.
What ever the case is, spend a significant amount of time thinking about it. You have probably spent a significant amount of time being angry, so a little extra time trying to figure out what is in your best interest regarding this person won’t hurt.
You may want to stay on this step for more than just a day. Maybe a week. Or more. It doesn’t matter how long you are on this step. Just put the papers in a place you can review them. You might even want to do these steps with someone else in your life. If forgiving hasn’t been your “thing”, you may have a lot of people to do this exercise with. That’s OK, don’t be hard on yourself, just take the time and do the work, and in the end you are the one that will benefit.
When you are ready continue to Step Five. No rush.
- FORGIVE. Forgiving doesn’t mean “forgetting”, a lot of people don’t quite understand that. We are not computers, we can’t just hit the delete button and erase our past history. Although, at times many of us wish we could, (me included). We are talking about forgiveness, so you can forgive and let the anger go (for your own sake and sanity), remembering is o.k. though. Remembering might even prove to be quite helpful. You may find yourself in a similar situation one day, and remembering might help you choose your reaction differently than you had before this happened. This is where the saying “learn from you mistakes” came from. It’s not a judgment on your behavior, just a reminder that you handled something one way and it didn’t turn out quite the way your would have wanted. So the next time, you might do something much differently based on your increased understanding.
So, to get back to the final step, STEP FIVE. Now that you have all the information in front of you, and you have given it all quite a bit of thought, and figured out what is in YOUR best interest. Now it’s time to FORGIVE. LET IT GO. LET GO OF THE ANGER. LET GO OF THE PAIN. Let go of allowing this to keep putting negative thoughts in your head. You need that room for positive, healthy, loving thoughts. Maybe, even take some time to close your eyes and meditate on letting go of the anger and pain. If you don’t normally meditate; Just close your eyes for a few moments in a quite place. Try to let go of your thoughts for a moment. Now picture in your “minds eye” all the negative thoughts and anger leaving your head, like vapor evaporating from a pot, slowly but consistently, until there is no more to let go. Do you feel better? If so, you did it right. You don’t even have to tell the person that you forgave them. The important thing is that you let it go, it no longer haunts you, it no longer consumes your thoughts. At this point you can either take steps to smooth things out with the person, and start from a healthier place…Or keep your distance if you have decided that was what was best for you. There is no right or wrong way to to do this. The right way is whatever works best for you. If you realize you just don’t feel any better after STEP FIVE, then go back to STEP FOUR. You may just need more time, and that is OK. Remember….No pressure, this is at YOUR pace. Once you feel confident that you have truly let go of this “in your head”, not just “in your words”. Once you realize that, rip up your paper from STEP ONE, maybe symbolically burn it, just something that helps you recognizes your accomplishment of putting this behind you. But, keep the other papers from STEPS TWO AND THREE. Just in case something comes up again with this person, and you want to go through this process again, you will still have all the more “positive” things saved.
- Accept that the present situation is not a happy one for you, and that if there is to be any change, you alone must make it first. Further, that you have no direct control over the other's thinking, feeling or behavior.
- Recognize that there are great differences in perceptions, that we are blind to how we impact others, and that we all tend to idealize ourselves.
- Remember that you are an imperfect human being: blind to yourself & not knowing it. You are probably more self-centered than you can ever see yourself. We all are. You had some part in whatever happened. Your halo was probably off-kilter some way. The easiest thing in the world is to blame.
- Some expression of your anger or hurt to someone may be either useful or necessary for the process to get started well. The listener does not need to be the offending person but should be one who can truly empathize yet be objective, not just agree with you, but also challenge you to reframe it!
- Realize that forgiveness is for YOUR sake, that holding on to resentments is more hurtful to you than anyone else. It keeps you from living fully in the present--the only moment in which we can live peacefully and free of the past negatives.
- Understand that holding a grudge can give you a secret power and sense of superiority over others. Dwelling or sucking on hurt or pain can make one feel quite "special." Many persons actually prefer holding on to resentments because of the hidden "fringe benefits" or payoffs. Examine what your possible pay-offs may be: the victim or martyr role offers diverse benefits. List some!
- Examine whether the good points of the other person outweigh their faults even though you feel you were treated badly. Reflect upon this: "Will you feel better or become a better person by trying to improve the relationship?"
- Comprehend that forgiving is NOT forgetting or condoning. "Because I can't forget I can't forgive" is an alibi & not true, that forgiving is simply a decision not to dwell or suck on the hurt. It is a decision that may need to be made repeatedly, for as often as necessary, "seventy times seven"..."Forgive us as we forgive..."
- Be aware that forgiveness is, believe it or not, 100% your responsibility, and that you DO NOT really need the other person to admit that they were wrong. Waiting until they admit wrong keeps YOU stuck in the past. Many crucify themselves between two thieves of regret (or resentment) and guilt, then believe that others or the "world" has done it to them.
- Be willing to learn whatever is helpful or necessary to leave the past to the past. There are some psychological techniques...Be willing to discover what your own hidden compulsion is. Address your own interpersonal impact, with some serious self-study.
- For the person of some Christian belief, deep, profound hurts from a close family member may take regular, sustained prayer even for a long period of time, in order to forgive. Our wounded ego or hurt pride may not yield except through divine grace, and bringing my will into God's loving kindness. Some hurts are so deep that they require patient prayer and time to heal.
- For the Buddhist, the remedy is the regular practice of meditation, mindfulness, letting go of attachments, the discerning that suffering is an inevitable part of human life, and the attainment of compassion for all creatures. Attachment to one's own views is seen as the source of all pain.
- If you have the courage, seeking feedback from the other person can be an occasion for considerable increase in self-awareness, some insight and possible reconciliation. Begin by saying: "I'm sorry for my part..."
- Regardless of whether the other person responds or changes, the final step is to keep on willing love and goodness to them, wishing the best for them.