As years have passed, I’ve realised that forgiveness and letting go happens in stages.
It’s not a one-time process.
As we grow and as our hearts open, our capacity to understand and accept events and the people connected to them increases.
Sometimes, we have to forgive the same person over and over again until there is nothing but love and acceptance of who they are.
This process is deeply connected to ourselves. As we learn to love and accept ourselves, our capacity to forgive and accept expands and we find we have the potential to love the people we once hated. For some, this may bring the start of a new chapter with the same person, and for others it creates an opening for a brand new chapter with someone else.
Whatever the case, it seems to me that the cycle of self-love and personal growth involves the continuous and conscious acts of forgiveness, acceptance, and love—of ourselves and others.
I came to this realization when I woke up one morning to a soft voice that said, “I forgive you…”
At first I thought I was dreaming. I’d heard these words and done this (forgiving) many times before. Then I realized that this was my own morning whisper.
This letter I wrote captures what flowed from my heart, in that moment, as I entered into a new cycle and dove into new depths of love:
Dear (one who loved and hurt me most),
It’s been many years since we parted ways, yet you linger in my memory. I remember you at the oddest moments, when I least expect to.
I used to cringe when I heard your name, but now I smile when I remember you and the times we shared. Memories no longer haunt me and keep me awake at night. They make me laugh and blush as they were always meant to.
You are the one who loved me the deepest, and hurt me the most.
I am the one who loved you the deepest, and hurt you the most.
It’s taken me a hell of a long time to get to this place of balance, where I am able to see both our love and hate together. Yes, they will always be a pair. As long as there is the sun and the moon, you, my man, will have both light and shadows to offer—and so will I.
This is the truth that I finally understand and accept.
As a woman, my deepest calling is to love you just the way you are.
It’s only after I got to this place of truth that I now feel the love that you offered when we were together. As a couple, we never really felt our love at its depths. What we felt most of the time was our hate, and it overwhelmed us both.
It wasn’t that we could not love each other. We chose not to. Yes, it was a conscious choice to not love you.
At the time, I felt that I was the most important person on this planet and my story, wounds and scars were all that mattered and required my attention, before anything else. I was a little girl then and all I wanted was to be taken care of, nursed, and nourished. I wanted you to be the father that I never had.
But you didn’t come to me to be my father—you came to me to be my lover, partner, my best friend, and my king. At least this is what you said you wanted to offer me.
Even though you asked me to be a partner, what I saw, dear man, was that you, too, were a little boy and, like me, you also wanted a mother. You were a boy who wanted to be held, nurtured, and loved much like the little girl in me.
We gave each other glimpses of our darkest and most unloved corners from our childhood, hoping that we would understand and know what to do. We opened to one another, hoping that we would stay, even after we’d seen each other this way.
But we both ran away. Over and over again.
“Me first, me first!” we both screamed silently as we fought to be seen.
The truth is, we were overwhelmed and could not handle what we saw in each other. The truth is, little girls and little boys can’t be mothers, fathers, lovers, or partners to each other.
Neither of us had the capacity to handle who we were at the time. How could we stay and love one another when we had not learned to do so for ourselves?
Years have passed and, finally, I have learnt to love myself.
I hope you have, too.
As I love me, I feel stronger and surer of loving you again—whether it is you or another man. And maybe I am now ready to be all that you wanted me to be: lover, partner, best friend, mother, and queen.
Maybe you are now ready to be all that I wanted you to be: lover, partner, best friend, father, and king.
I hope and wish that this is so, because if it wasn’t for you and for the courage you showed in letting me go, I wouldn’t have grown into the woman I am today.
Our parting inspired me to learn how to love. I wanted to learn to love a man as he was truly worthy of being loved.
I swore to do all that I could and can do to love a man for his light and through his dark, murky, pitch-blackness.
I now see you as a friend who honours me, as a brother who respects and protects me. You make me laugh at my silly seriousness. You are here for me as a deeply connected warrior who holds me accountable to my stories and excuses of victimhood, conditions, and demands.
This time, we won’t run. You will stay and I will stay with you—and we will take tiny steps together. This time, we are finally able to see each other fully and tend to any old, unhealed wounds. This time, we both cry for each other’s sadness, and together we vow to love one another truly and deeply.
This time, I am fulfilling the promise I made to myself to love you like you have never been loved before.
I owe this to you—the one who loved me and hurt me most. Would I have reached this point if I had not met you?
The answer is no.
So, thank you for loving and hurting me so.
And thank you for knowing when to let me go.
My invitation to you is to remain open to the arrival of memories and feelings of people who you loved and hated most.
There is actually no end or expiry date to love.
Anyone who moves and inspires us to transform will always remain in a special corner of our hearts. So, instead of trying to forget them, forgive, accept, and love them each time they arrive.
Perhaps this is when love truly is unconditional.
Author: Deepthi Amin
Editor: Khara-Jade Warren