“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” ~Mahatma Ghandi
My childhood was in many ways a nice childhood. I feel like a complete twit to complain about it. I know other people have gone through so much worse. I’ve read really difficult childhood stories and my heart literally bleeds for these people.
Growing up I was shy, un-confident, and withdrawn. I treated school mostly like a prison sentence. I put my head down and tried to do my time without falling in with the wrong crowd.
My parents were, and are, good parents. They provided financially for my brother and I really well. We had food on the table every evening, and we lived in a nice house. I was never beaten or abused physically in any way, shape, or form. I was lucky.
I love both my parents so much; I’d do anything for them. However, my love for my parents has led to so much confusion and turmoil inside of me. Why did they never reciprocate it?
My parents never told me that they loved me. They never hugged me or told me that everything was going to be okay. I can’t even remember being told “well done” or “good job” for something that I did. Instead, on occasion they told me that I was “lazy, stupid, and fat.”
It would’ve been so easy for them to comfort me occasionally and tell me that everything was going to be okay. Just two minutes of reassurance every so often and I truly feel that I would’ve been a happier kid. My quality of life would’ve been so much greater if I’d received that little bit of love.
Every day I was scared of school. I felt sad and alone. Anything remotely social would cause my heart to race and adrenaline to fill my little body.
At night I’d fantasize about having a girlfriend and also having conversations with girls at school. I’d dream about what I’d say to them and how cool I’d be.
Alas, the next day I’d keep my head down and talk to no one. Every evening I’d be at home playing on my computer, in my room alone, trying to quietly distract myself.
Even now, after a decade of working on myself, I occasionally get feelings of fear and self-doubt. “Am I good enough?” I wonder. It has literally taken me years of meditation, self-help, and exposing myself over and over again to scary situations to heal myself.
I’ve asked my mum several times if she loves me and she tells me “to stop being stupid.” She says that she demonstrates love and that she doesn’t believe in saying things. She demonstrates love by providing for me.
As a boy and now, I like to receive my love verbalized and given through touch.
I’m not writing this looking for sympathy. I actually feel a little silly sharing it. There are so many people that have had more difficult lives than me.
I am writing this as someone who is far more confident than I once was. That being said, my life isn’t perfect.
Overall, I’m doing great, but this is only after so much struggling, pain, and heartache.
I definitely could be richer if I hadn’t had to spend many years of my life healing myself. I could be more successful if I’d had the confidence at a younger age to take certain opportunities. I could’ve had more friends if I was more outgoing at school, college, and university.
My life would’ve definitely been easier without the need for me to constantly struggle against inner pain and fear.
When things are going well, it’s easier for someone to forgive. When I’m making money and one of my books is appearing in shops it is easy to forgive. “No problem Mum! I love you anyway!”
It’s easy for “gurus” to preach about how you should forgive when they get up on stage. Of course the guru is happy; things are going great in their life!
In fact, they have probably rationalized that their success is because of their difficult upbringing. How much easier is it to forgive a difficult past when you are rich and successful? It definitely takes the edge off things.
The challenge of forgiveness, though, is when things aren’t going great—when life’s expectations aren’t being met. These are the times when forgiveness is a challenge. Truly letting go can be a lifetime goal, and it’s not easy.
The first step to forgive is to learn about the person that has wronged you. Find out about their past. Did their mother or father show them love? Did they feel safe growing up?
My mum was from an orphanage and was never shown love from her adoptive parents. She was provided for and that was about it. On top of that, my mum was bullied at school because she didn’t have a real family and she was told that she was “stupid, lazy, and fat.” Sounds familiar.
Most boy bullies were bullied themselves, either by a father or an older brother. When you look into their past and background, it will then be possible to understand that person.
The next step is to forgive yourself and realize it wasn’t your fault. No one is born unconfident or shy. These are learned behaviors that are developed from our environment.
It would be completely unreasonable to blame myself for anything. I felt scared and alone, and I did what any child would do, withdraw.
The final step is to forgive the other person. With the knowledge and understanding you have acquired about the other person it should make this a bit easier.
Wish that person well and, if possible, send them your feelings of love. Resentment and anger only hurt the person that is carrying them around. There is no benefit in holding onto these or having a victim story. Stories are pointless. Let go and live in the now.
Finally, if you are struggling with forgiveness, remember that you can transform negative emotions into the drive to be a better person and create a better life.
Experiencing pain makes you stronger, and being wronged by others helps you understand what you believe is right so you can better for the people around you.
Because of your past, you have an inner drive plus emotional empathy, which allows you to be a truly amazing individual. Your painful experiences have given you gifts. Use your courage to explore them.
And if you find you’re still struggling with forgiveness, don’t give up or lose heart, because tomorrow is always a new day.
Photo by Nicole Abalde