It’s something that I never thought I had a problem with, until I went to lunch with a longtime friend.
“But you don’t understand what they did. They made me feel so betrayed at a time I was so vulnerable…”
I went through my laundry list of excuses, reasons why I was justified in feeling hurt. I didn’t think it was me holding a grudge or withholding forgiveness, it was just my feelings. But no, my hurts had piled up from years of being so annoyed that this event had happened that I had withheld forgiveness by default. Sound familiar? And since I didn’t see these people hardly ever, I had buried the hurt and it only came back in rare occurrences, giving me the illusion that I was “fine” or “over it”. But I realized that when someone pokes at an issue, and it fires you up, it usually means that you’re still not over it. Just because someone hasn’t “poked” at it in a while, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.
I had tried to forgive, to forget certain events that happened around when my mother left and the things people had said that were supposed to be out of concern but came across as crude or ignorant. I had thought that I had. I had prayed, written, been pensive, as I tried to make peace. But somehow, when a person or event was brought up, I’d be fired up again. Why? Why couldn’t I get past it?
It dawned on me, about ten years after the events had unfolded, why I couldn’t move forward. You see, when I looked at the events from my paradigm, it was all, of course, through my eyes, my lens. I saw things that hurt me, and rightfully so. However, I didn’t consider the other people, those that hurt me, as people. I realized I only saw them through my hurt, and somehow, dehumanized them. When they were dehumanized, it was easy to stay bitter, to say, “you hurt me and should pay”. But when I saw their own fragility, humanity and struggles, I felt something different. Genuine empathy. And once I reached this milestone, the feelings of bitterness slowly left me.
We are all only human, here today and gone tomorrow. We have limited time, capacity, and abilities. To lose someone from an event that maybe wasn’t positive, but also not irreparable, is such a shame. Because together we really are better; better ideas, passions, and problem solving.
What this doesn’t mean, is this: you’re not an open door for neglect and abuse. But what it does mean is good-willed and intentioned people make mistakes. They sometimes jude too quickly and react harshly. And to shut someone out, even if it’s just in your heart or mind, forever, just isn’t fair.
So today, maybe start looking past your pain, and looking at your enemy as a human. It’s extraordinary how it may just change your mind and heart forever. It did mine.