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Forgiveness is not a linear process.
It cannot be forced. It has to feel true.
We cannot convince ourselves. We cannot be talked into it.
I was once hurt in ways that seemed impossible to heal from—and truth be told, I pretty much thought I’d be miserable forever.
Looking back on those frayed pages of my life, I see that the road to forgiveness can be utterly confusing. I see that maybe the map is not like what I thought it’d be. It’s both darker and sweeter, more surprising.
The terrain is vast—tough and tender, like me.
And to complicate matters even more, our love for the ones who hurt us doesn’t immediately go away. It doesn’t evaporate or cease to exist.
Meanwhile, the ache grows inside our hearts. It festers. And somehow, love lives on beside it—idly salting the wound. Maybe over time, the love itself seems to turn sour, into hate.
I know the anger, the pain, the shame, the grief. I know how overwhelming it can all be.
Maybe these emotions feel shameful, but of course we feel them. Our hearts are strong but fragile—we are human, after all.
And in the sweeping shock of it all, we can want revenge. We can want the other to hurt and ache, as we do. We can want all of these feelings to—poof!—go away.
But I want to tell you something: it’s okay to hurt.
It’s okay to shed those tears. It’s okay to feel the rage. It’s okay to be unsure if you can forgive. It’s okay to not even want to forgive.
Let it shake and tremble and move through you. Lean in, for you are more held and supported than you know.
And maybe forgiveness doesn’t look like what we’re told.
Maybe it’s not written in a Hallmark card. Maybe it isn’t neatly defined. Maybe it isn’t a particular destination or a burdening “should” or “have to.”
Maybe it has more to do with grace—a subtle mist of possibility.
Maybe it starts in tiny buds, a gradual softening in the intensity of our feelings. Maybe it’s pressed into the soft, but not-to-be-missed sense that maybe, just maybe—we can move on.
Maybe it looks so much like loving ourselves and giving our wounds time and space and fresh air to heal.
Maybe it’s holding ourselves through the tears, processing what happened with a caring therapist, and reaching out to a friend.
Maybe it’s finding sparks of fire inside that we didn’t know we had.
Maybe it’s seeking a new passion or committing to the thirsty tendrils of an old dream.
Maybe we don’t need to force the process at all.
It’s strange, because for so long I didn’t believe it—but hearts can love again. We can even trust again.
Like a particularly fragrant spring strewn with lilacs after a long, brutal winter—it can all happen. Life can feel fresh and sweet again, but it will take time, patience, hard work, or some combination of the three.
Don’t miss the drops of juiciness along the way, even when it’s hard. We can make art and poetry and all kinds of awesome sh*t from the pain, anger, and other feelings we wish would go away.
So much wisdom can be gained.
So much can be cleared out, like old wounds and ancient patterns that we didn’t know how to break.
There is so much to learn in the deep cuts life can cause us.
It’s not pretty while we’re in it—that I know—but the end result can be beautiful.
We can be free. We can be purified—reborn.
And it hurts—oh, I know it hurts. I know those deep sobs so well. I know the confusion and fear.
I feel it sometimes, still.
But now, there is spaciousness where there once was only a deep ache. Now, I see that my best revenge is my heart’s ability to remain tender. To soften ever more. To not become bitter.
See, I think that if we sit patiently and hold our broken hearts in immense tenderness, something will happen. Maybe not right away. But over time, it will.
Keep showing up for yourself.
And slowly, when you’re ready, the pain will melt like snow revealing fertile mud—maybe it will surprise you.
The armor will dissolve. Anger will give way to something else entirely.
And you will take a big breath—a breath so big you didn’t know your lungs could expand so lusciously.
And it’s not that the hurt is all better, or all gone. It’s certainly not that you’re condoning or accepting actions that were toxic or cruel.
It’s that you feel more…free.
It’s that you have allowed yourself to soften. To taste the reverence of this life—
Of all it means to hurt, to heal.
To transform, to surrender, to love, to lose.
All of it.
Because we suffer, we rise, we are human.
It’s not easy. We feel so much, but the fruits are also ripe.
And I know where you’re at right now might not look picture-perfect, but it doesn’t need to.
I want to tell you something else. I want to share these comforting words that I’ve come to in imagining what a Great Mother might say in these tough times as she wraps her arms around us in a blanket that feels like silk—her voice smooth as honey and full of grit and grace. Maybe she would look at us with kind eyes and say:
I love you.
I do not hate your anger. I do not look down on your pain.
I don’t think you need to rush your healing so people can feel justified in saying that you should be over it, already.
It’s okay to be with the feelings that are frayed and big and messy, like long threads inside your heart that still make no sense.
Gently take responsibility for what’s yours as you untangle the knots—and know there’s also no need to blame yourself.
Oh, sweet one—it’s okay to feel what you feel.
I trust your healing.
I trust in your power.
I trust in your ability to hold it all.
I trust your resilience and all the wisdom you will gain.
I see your strength.
I will hold you.
I am here.
With you, through every tear.
Know that day by day, your wounds can soften.
Know this process, perhaps as forgiveness.
Know it as brutal, as beautiful, as miraculous, as sweet—
Know it as alchemy, the sweet breeze that blows, just when we’ve almost lost hope.
And then, like the sun, hope rises anew with the slow bursting of another day.