He that cannot forgive others breaks the bridge over which he must pass himself; for every man has need to be forgiven. -- Thomas Fuller
Often we're afraid to forgive others who've hurt us because we believe that, in doing so, we are permitting what they've done. This is not true. When we forgive, we are saying, "I pardon you, I give up any claim for revenge, you are no longer an enemy."
Relationships are not all black and white. We can forgive people and still not want to spend time with them. Forgiveness is for ourselves. It is a housecleaning of the heart. It feels good to sweep out the resentments and bitterness, lift up the windows, and let in the forgiveness.
Today let me offer forgiveness, either silently or out loud, to someone who has hurt me.
Improved Self-Image Turned My Life Around
At 19, my self-concept was incredibly skewed. I thought I had to be someone who could handle anything, who had seen everything, and whose inherent coolness oozed from every pore.
I obsessed about my friends, my abusive alcoholic boyfriend, and how to maintain my façade of coolness in any and every possible situation. I needed to control others’ perceptions of me in order to feel okay. But my mentally-rehearsed laughter and smiles rang hollow. I continued to feel like an imposter, unable to escape from deceiving the world.
While it would be easy to blame my distorted perceptions on my young age, the truth is that I continued to react to the effects of growing up in an alcoholic home.
I pursued my college career like everything else, doing well at first and obsessing about other people, all the while trying to push myself to fit a mold I would never fit. My grades suffered. I couldn’t pass my basic requirements, and I began to think I was incapable of pursuing a higher education. I dropped out of school after failing several classes.
I found myself working five part-time jobs, only three of which paid me. I was broke, depressed, and anxious. I didn’t know how to drop the “mask.” I couldn’t slow down for fear that I would never come out of the negative emotions I had been running from. By the time I was hospitalized for a nervous breakdown, I was too afraid to leave the house.
Emotionally crippled and fearful, I dragged myself to the rooms of Al-Anon and began to work the program. Shortly thereafter, the woman who became my Sponsor moved to the area. I knew she was the one for me because she annoyed me with her proactive attitude and acceptance.
With a little serenity and sanity under my belt, I began attending college again. This time I took fewer classes and focused on subjects I enjoyed. I began to see that I could do well. I could focus on myself by working my program, doing the next right thing, and taking small steps toward improving my own life. My GPA shot up and my self-esteem increased as I learned to trust myself to finish my studies “One Day at a Time.”
As my Higher Power guided me, I began to realize that my earlier failures were not due to stupidity or laziness. They were simply a manifestation of growing up in an alcoholic environment.
Last week I graduated with honors, with my bachelor’s degree in a subject I truly love. Because I enjoy it so much, I’ve decided to attend graduate school and pursue a career in this field. While this field is generally stereotyped as “un-cool,” I love it – and that’s all that matters.
By Nancy W., Tennessee June,2008
Reprinted with permission of The Forum
Al-Anon Family Groups Incorporated, Virginia Beach, VA
Today's Hope is a Recovery themed site with a focus on Friends and Families of Alcoholics and problem drinkers. We are not affiliated with any 12 Step program. The daily sharings contain a reading from
Al-Anon's Conference Approved publication The Forum, an inspirational quote/saying and a recovery based reading/meditation. The intent of Today's Hope is to share experience, strength and hope. Please take what you like and leave the rest.