“I told you so” is one of the worst things to hear. Partially because when hearing it, you know that you partially agreed when your friend or relative said it to you, or at least had the knowledge before hand, but you still sojourned into the choice and came out on the other side, as predicted. Hearing “I told you so” from yourself is even worse. Knowing that a situation will not turn out the way you think, want, or need it to, but still going in with the understanding that failure is not only possible but imminent, is tough. Maybe I’m a hopeful dreamer, maybe I’m overly positive, maybe I’m just an idiot, but I have once again found myself on the back side of a situation that I knew what the result would be, as did almost all of my friends, but I tried it anyway. Of course it was a romantic situation. I’d tell you about it, but it’s a pretty generic scenario, and it’s also not the point of this article. I want to talk about forgiveness.
Yeah, forgiveness is one of those topics right now that is bouncing around the personal growth world that exercising forgiveness allows you to grow. And it does. Gabby Bernstein is one of my favorite advocates of this. What all of these other articles and blogs are failing to mention is how hard forgiveness is and that it is a process. Its not like you can just wake up, add water, and poof, the person is forgiven. It takes time, effort, and reliving—not the incident that happened, but reminding yourself that you did, in fact, forgive the person which means that you are no longer allowed to hold the grudge. Harder than forgiving someone else is how you have to forgive yourself—and that is just as, if not more, important than forgiving someone you don’t have to live with 100% of the time.
Because this stream of consciousness comes from a failed romantic experience, I’ve been told by Lesley that this is the last I’m to write about him, so I’ll name him Lazy Musician and if I ever write about him again, you can pelt me with olives. I feel like I talk about the relationship issue over and over and over… anyway… I was given hope that a dead relationship might have a resurrection, and was given a dangling carrot. To try to achieve said carrot, I reached out for it. Picture me, the extremely tall woman that I am, reaching on one tippy-toe with both arms out, fingers flexed, tilted to the side with one leg kicked out keeping me on balance—it’s a very silly, cartoonish vision. And I’m standing like this for 24 hours. That’s not what I was actually doing… but it felt like it, mentally. My friends were telling me not to give any attention to the situation, to walk away completely. By this person, I’d been hurt before. He didn’t deserve me, and I would only be let down. Again. Twenty-four hours pass. Thirty-six hours pass. Here I am at hour forty-two. Awake in my bed on a Saturday morning. Listening to crickets—well, actually, the boom of the bass and the people outside speaking Spanish on my Harlem stoop—but the point is that he has failed, again, to reach out when he said he would. The thing that keeps running over and over in my head is: Clare, you should have known better, I told you so. Like I said, its frustrating to hear that sentence. It’s horrific to say it to yourself.
I’m the type of person that will over analyze everything from what has been to what could have been to what will be. I could lay in bed and over think this non-situation and waste my Saturday. Instead, I sat up. Moved to the edge of the bed pausing before putting my feet on the floor, and told myself I needed to take this moment to wallow. I made myself agree that that after I put my foot on the floor I needed to move on with my day. I took a breath. I took a moment. Then I put my foot on the floor and walked into my day, leaving the angry and disappointed thoughts behind me. I’d love to tell you that I’m so amazingly well adjusted that I stepped foot on my floor I left the whole thing behind me. However, spoiler alert, it was not the case. I made coffee and lasted about an hour before I had to go snuggle with my roommate to get more out it out of my system. I was fine for about an hour until she left for work. After she left, I felt myself sinking again while washing my face. I found myself staring into the mirror. I uttered the horrific words to my image: I told you so.
Ugh. Sinking lower still, I thought that I wanted to talk to someone about the whole thing. But knowing that I’d hear “I told you so,” repeatedly for the next few days from friends and myself when I chose to relive the account to explain my dull mood. Feeling a tear about to fall down my cheek, and not wanting to go back into feeling sorry for myself, I stared into my own eyes with insolence. I realized I needed forgiveness. I needed to forgive myself for taking a chance, reaching out, but getting nothing in return—just like everyone I know said would happen. With unrelenting, fiercely protective friends, I was not about to hear the forgiveness I wanted from them. I was the only one who could give this forgiveness. I squared my shoulders, looked into my own soul and said: I forgive you. I forgive you for making the choice that you know would fail. I forgive you for wanting something you knew you wouldn’t get and that wasn’t good for you. I forgive you.
It felt a bit silly at the time—talking to myself in the mirror. This isn’t the first mirror pep talk I’ve given myself, but add in the “I told you so” and the frustration I felt of sinking back into a situation that I knew better than to sink into, and it was an odd moment. But now, I feel refreshed and I’ve moved on. It was such a free feeling I felt as I walked back into my kitchen to fix breakfast. As I poured more coffee, I thought that this would be a good thing to share with the Live ClareLesley readers. I felt really silly looking at myself in the mirror and telling myself that I forgave myself. Why was this so hard? Was it looking at myself in the mirror—probably not since I do it daily. Was it letting go of the situation that has been plaguing me for the past few weeks? Maybe. If I’m really honest, it’s the forgiving. Moving past the incident and forgiving is not the easiest. If someone has committed an injustice against you, its one thing to get over what happened. Its more difficult to let it go. Its even harder to offer forgiveness and completely move on. All of these steps towards one’s self should be easier, but its not, its harder. Anything for yourself is harder than doing it for someone else. Especially when it comes to mental health and well-being. Its easier to help someone else, even to forgive someone else than it is to be vulnerable. Even to be vulnerable in the confines of one’s own bathroom. To overcome your own ego and forgive is one of the most difficult things to do. We all put up walls, even towards ourselves, for protection and self-preservation. Its an interesting thought trying to protect yourself from yourself. However, it’s a self-taught trait that we all encompass.
The thing is, forgiveness isn’t letting down the protection walls. Its more of the mental version of just releasing unneeded tension and relaxing your shoulders. Why do we hold onto things? Why don’t we forgive more easily? After the forgiveness is the moving on and feeling better; the world seems brighter; breathing seems easy again. Maybe we don’t want to forgive because we don’t want to move on. We don’t want to face Change. Is it really easier to hold onto that wall and self-preserve or is it easier to let go and move on?
Starting to forgive is an easy process. You just have to wake up and start it. Instructions are simple: figure out who you need to forgive and why you need to forgive them. You can start with a mantra to yourself that what the person did, shouldn’t have as high stakes as you are allowing. Then go to that person (or to yourself) and look them in the eye and say the words: I forgive you. You don’t necessarily have to do it out loud—in fact a daily repetition of this might get creepy—but you have to have a repetition of this. Every day, you have to remind yourself that you’re better off having let go and forgiven and moved on. If you don’t have the chance to forgive them in person, or don’t want to face them again—write it out. Write everything they did to you and how they hurt you and how you would love to shove it back in their face. Take the paper, somewhere safe, like a lake or your toilet, and burn it. Let the fire literally take away your feelings. (Again make sure that you’re doing it in a safe place that the ashes will scatter and won’t burn anything to the ground.) Don’t let this person have power over you anymore. That is actually what forgiveness truly does—it takes your power back and makes you the stronger person. Forgiveness is such a powerful thing. Harness that and not the frustrating thoughts you’ve been harboring.
Going back and reliving my moment this morning in the bathroom, I now feel silly about it, but I’m so glad I did it. It hurts to think of the choices I made to get to the point of forgiveness. I also want to think about them and rethink and analyze… but I’ve forgiven and I need to move on. Lazy Musician has no ties to me anymore. I just don’t care, and I’m giving him no more power over me. He doesn’t deserve it. I need to look forward into the future and remember that in a week or a year or five, I won’t remember this day, or any injustice I feel now, because I’ve let it go. In the grand scheme of life, the negative things of today won’t matter, but my letting go and self-forgiveness will. What do you need to forgive yourself for? Until you forgive yourself, you’ll keep reliving the same mistakes. Maybe its time to have a little one on one chat in the mirror.