I used to take pride in holding a grudge. I considered a testament to my character that I would hang onto ancient grudges and resentments against former employers, family and friends that went back decades. If you screwed me over you were out of my life forever.
That’s how I rolled for about 35 years. I thought doing this protected me and made me stronger.
I was wrong.
After a year of therapy in my mid 30s, I learned how to forgive, how to make amends and how to reconcile. I was astonished to realize that doing this made my life better.
I spent an entire year rebuilding relationships, making amends, and cleaning up my past grievances.
Afterward, I no longer had to duck from anyone I ran into on the street. I was no longer driven by smoldering rage and resentments.
I was free.
I’ve been living this way now for nearly half of my adult life. Most days, forgiveness comes easily. For small grievances and minor offenses, it’s immediate. For larger ones, it often comes within a day or two at most
But, over the past month, I’ve had to come to terms with two grudges that have been consuming too much of my heart and mind.
One has been going for three years. I thought I had worked through it completely over 2 years ago. But I hadn’t.
The other is relatively new. I only carried it for a few weeks.
In both cases, I had mixed emotions. Part of me felt bad for the other people involved – they obviously were dealing with their own demons and struggles. Part of me felt wronged – one had deliberately lashed out at me with maliciousness and the other displayed a near total disregard for my feelings.
Neither person is part of my life anymore.
There are no amends for me to make here. I’ve done enough soul searching to realize that I did nothing wrong. I didn’t deserve to be mistreated. But that doesn’t matter. You know how I feel about what I deserve.
I hope that both people find what they need to make them happy in life and fill the holes inside of them. But they will have to do this without me.
If either comes to me to reconnect down the road, I’m not sure I would be willing to do so.
You see, I forgive them, but I will never trust them again. They’ve shown their true character to me one too many times.
It makes me think of Lucy pulling the football away from Charlie Brown right before he tries to kick it.
I’m not Charlie Brown.
If Lucy pulls the ball away once, I can forgive and forget. After she does it over and over, I learn.
I don’t forget.
So if either of you ever stumble across this post, know that I forgive you and bear you no ill will. You do not need to reach out to me to apologize, reconcile or justify your behavior.
I wish you the best – but we will not be friends again.
I am free and so are you.