“There goes your self-respect,” some girl commented on a picture I posted of my boyfriend and me.
It was one of my happiest memories captured digitally. One where I thought I looked, to be honest, pretty and happy even though I was making a silly face. The picture was of us at a theme park. It was his first time there and my first time as an adult without my family.
My choice to forgive and move past him cheating infuriates some. They want me to be angry with him and to hold onto negativity and pain. In their eyes, I have devolved from a strong, independent survivor to a weak-minded, naïve woman with low self-respect.
Choosing to move past the experience and learn from it has been one of my greatest moments of growth. I refuse to apologize because others cannot understand my forgiveness.
Was it easy? Absolutely not. Do I still have moments of doubt? Without question. But I choose how the past affects me. I choose how I react to the lesson I have learned. My self-respect is far from in jeopardy; if anything, it is stronger than ever.
When someone wrongs us, the people closest to us want to rally and protect us. I am blessed with a plethora of family and friends that would go to the ends of the earth for me. A select few have traveled into my darkest moments with me to bring me back from the edge. The truest of these people want to see us evolve into a stronger version of ourselves. They respect our journey, even if they don’t agree with it.
I felt true peace the day I decided to get really down and dirty with honesty in my life. It is something I have been trying to face for the last few years: I want an honest life. I have set about expressing what we think in our heads but often, out of fear, don’t say aloud.
Some fear the opinion of others, some fear backlash and repercussions, some fear losing the people in their lives. I think the greatest thing people fear is that they will be rejected for their truth. I have found strength in leading an honest life and watched my fear dissolve.
So when that comment was posted, I didn’t for a moment second-guess my decision to forgive a man I love; I chose to eliminate that person from my life. I didn’t feel angry, but rather an absolute resolution that I did not need her, or anyone’s, approval or permission to make choices I alone have to live with. I choose to give a second chance to a man I love who I feel is worth fighting for. In that moment, I felt myself growing into a person who takes full responsibility for the direction of my happiness.
The decision I made is not for everyone, and every set of circumstances is different. But there is no shame in loving our own way. There is no shame in working on something we believe in, provided we have healthy boundaries and know what we want.
Next time you’re at a crossroad and the world around you is trying to influence your decisions, ask yourself:
What am I at peace with?
What will I not tolerate?
How do I feel?
Remove all other thoughts and influence and have a truthful conversation with yourself.
Live an authentic life. Make honest choices. Make your choices.
BONUS: Waylon learns the keys of long term relationships from Wendy Strgar:
Author: Christie Page
Editor: Caroline Beaton
Photo: Author’s own
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