Forgiving

We all have people in our life we love to hate. You know the ones. They hurt you. They get their kicks by upsetting you. It seems they actually enjoy making your life miserable.

As a survivor of domestic abuse I eventually grew to hate my abuser. In the beginning of our relationship I loved this man with all my heart. Over a period of more than twenty years he chipped away at that love one abusive episode at a time. Eventually my heart turned cold and the hate burned deep within the core of my being. Yes, I hated him, I despised him, I wanted him to feel my pain. I wanted him to suffer the way I suffered. It seemed the best way to make him suffer was to hate him. How wrong I was! My hate was not destroying him, it was destroying me.

It was not until I walked out of this relationship that I realized the poison of hating. With a dream of living a life full of love, harmony and joy I soon discovered hate could not be part of that new life. Hate is a negative emotion, the very opposite of love. How can one live in peace, feeling happy while holding feelings of hate? You can’t. I eventually had to make a choice. Hating my abuser was keeping me in a state of turmoil. I was stuck in a vicious cycle of hating. I wanted some relief…I had to a find a way out.

I soon discovered the only way out of hating is forgiveness. At first I hated the concept of forgiving my abuser. Why would I do such a thing? He intentionally hurt me. He manipulated me. He controlled me. He destroyed the love I held for him. He almost destroyed me as a person. More often than not I would hear myself screaming in my head, “Why should I forgive him?”

The answer is quite simple. My constant hate thoughts towards this man was consuming my life. I was giving him my power. Stress was running rampant in my life. Every time I thought of him and how much I hated him the anxiety would rise within. To make matters worse, it was obvious he was enjoying my distress.

I was trying to break free into a new life but hanging onto the old. Logically I knew I had to find a way to forgive him but I swore I would never forget! And that is okay. This is my own powerhouse recipe to forgive:

(1) Take some time to sit alone and write a letter to person you hate. Tell them why you hate them. Everything you would love to say but won’t. This is your opportunity to let it all hang out. No one will ever read this letter so say anything and everything you want to say, don’t hold back!

(2) Once complete, read the letter to yourself with the intention of pinpointing your deepest pain. Highlight your most painful experiences. For example, just one of the things I wrote was, “I hate you because you hurt me until my heart turned cold.”

(3) Armed with knowledge of your deepest pain you can now begin to take steps in healing. It is time to twist the experience into a positive outcome. How did this experience help you grow into a better person? What have you learned from this experience? What can you do differently next time? For example, as a survivor of domestic abuse, I give credit to my abuser for forcing me dig deep within to find the courage and strength lying dormant.

(4) Give some thought as to why you think that person hurt you. What need was this person trying to fill? What did they possibly benefit from your anguish? Are they jealous of you? Are they threatened by you? Do they feel a need to control you? Is it possible they too are tormented within? Misery loves company. In most cases of domestic abuse the abuser was abused as a child. How sad is that? They are in pain themselves and are lashing out. They are trying to heal their own pain by inflicting it upon others. This exercise helped me look at my abuser in a whole new light. Instead of hating him I now hold compassion towards him. Can you do this? Can you find a way?

(5) This last step is extremely important. Resist the urge of sending the letter to the person you hate(d). Destroy your “hate letter” with the intention of forgiving this person. Make it a ritual. For example, I burnt the letter in my backyard saying to myself, “I release the hate I once held towards you. I am no longer a prisoner of your actions. I am free to move forward into a life of love, harmony and joy.”

Forgiving the person you hate for their wrong doing is the best thing you can do for yourself. In fact, the person you hate will likely be distressed by your lack reaction. Give it try…you just might find some hidden rewards you never thought possible!

“Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself. -Suzanne Somers”

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