Forgiveness is an attitude toward a human being who has wronged you, in which your desire to be at peace with that person, and, more importantly, with yourself, exceeds the extent to which you value what has been taken from you. This is usually easier said than done, and the closer the harm was to how you identify yourself, essentially, as a person, the harder it is to achieve this state. This is why, typically, the hardest person to forgive is the person you love the most. When you really love someone, especially in an exclusive, romantic way, everything they do, in relation to you, becomes deeply personal to you, because who you are becomes inextricably linked to who they are. This state of romantic being is both the most powerfully positive force known to man, and the most destructive. When you and the person you’re connected to are acting in tandem, as a single person, sharing a common emotional experience, your motivation, competency, and capability as an individual expands far beyond what you would have thought possible. When you are not on the same page; when you’re hurting each other, and not bringing each other back onto the same sheet of music, it is the most debilitating thing you will ever experience. When this latter state of affairs becomes the norm, the relationship falls apart. Finding forgiveness for a person who has hurt you in this way is one of the most difficult things to accomplish. Counterintuitively, the first step in being able to forgive – especially in the case of the romantic Other – is to recognize your part in it – and to completely forgive yourself for your part in it. Until you can forgive yourself, you can never really fully forgive the Other. You can, spiritually and consciously, but something interesting happens, unconsciously, when you resolve to forgive, without first forgiving yourself – the inescapable, fundamental, proto-ethical survival instincts kick in. All ethics, in the end, come back to the survival and enhancement of the species, and the individual. When you forgive the Other without first forgiving yourself, the very fiber of your soul rebels against you. It may seem to be counterintuitive, but you have to forgive yourself first. You have to be able to see yourself in an unqualified positive light first. Then you will be empowered to forgive – not before.
Why the Title
I’ve been struggling to forgive someone. I made a breakthrough today, when I realized that, while I wasn’t perfect, my instincts throughout the relationship were correct, and, in general, while I went about it in a ham-fisted and intense way, speaking in broad strokes, the way I handled myself was correct. When I came to that realization, I was able to forgive myself. Really, and truly, and for the first time. Once I was able to do that, I began to find that it was much easier to forgive the person who, in my opinion, failed me.