Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Anger & Forgiveness

I have had this post in my mind for several weeks, but it has been so difficult for me to write. And, while I finally have it written, I am having major troubles figuring out a way to start it. So, I suppose this image will suffice:

I am pretty darn good at cheering myself up, at bringing happiness to myself and, sometimes, to others. However, there is one area in my life where I have been having issues on that front.

I am currently letting another person take control over not necessarily my happiness, but more so my inner peace.

Let's have a little Story Time with Emmy:

At one point in my life, I had a very, very close friend; we were so close, in fact, that had I gotten married and had children at that age, I would have loved for this friend to have been the officiant for my wedding and present for my children's birth. I had nothing but admiration for this individual and was so thankful that she was a part of my life.

And then something happened.

Truthfully, I have no idea what that something was, but whatever happened was enough to end our friendship.

When I realized that something had come between us, I was devastated, as (like I said) I so greatly appreciated her presence in my life. I missed having dinner with her, commiserating about various issues, seeking her advice, collaborating on projects, talking with her. After so many years of considering her such an amazing friend, I just missed her.

I recently realized that the loss of this friendship truly took me through Kubler-Ross's Stages of Loss & Grief -- albeit perhaps not in the order that she originally outlined:


Initially, I was blind to the fact that anything had happened. We had recently had somewhat of a disagreement, but I thought that had been rectified, so I went on acting like everything was just fine -- because I sincerely thought that it was.


When I realized that something was a bit off, I tried extra hard to make things better.

I tried countless things to mend our relationship: I reached out about different opportunities, I invited her different places, I sought her out at social functions, and I even bought her a little something that made me think of her. In general, I simply acted like my usual sweet, happy, positive, cheerful self around her.

Yet nothing worked.


That made me so sad. People grow apart, and friendships end; I understand that. And while I have had some friendships dissipate over time, none of my friendships (and only one of my romantic relationships) had ever ended on a sour note.

The sadness stage didn't take hold of me for too long, however, as I moved on to the next stage, the stage where I have spent most of my time.


I became angry.

I was livid that our friendship could dissolve over something of which I was completely unaware.

I was indignant that I had lost a friend for a reason that I wholly did not understand.

I was enraged that a friend who was clearly upset with me was more content with letting our friendship dismantle than she was talking to me about the issue at hand.

I was furious that all of the things we had done together, all of the milestones we had accomplished, all of the fun that we had had seemingly meant nothing any longer.

I was angry about the stories I had made up in my mind as to why she disliked me so much. I was angry that I thought she thought of me as a horrible person.

And that anger consumed me.

And it wasn't like this anger lasted for a day or even for a week. This anger lasted for months, occupied my mind and my inner peace for the better part of a year.

Even while experiencing this resentment, I knew I had to do something about it because the anger was affecting me in extreme ways. Truthfully, it was absolutely exhausting: it took so much energy to harbor such negativity, and it was doing nothing to solve the problem.


While it is difficult for me, I am working on accepting the fact that our friendship has ended, that some ties are meant to be broken.

But you know what I think I'm trying to do more than accept? Forgive.

Acceptance and forgiveness are both choices, but I believe forgiveness takes a heck of a lot more work -- and also reaps the greater reward. If I accept something, I pretty much just say, "Okay, this happened. Whatever." But if I forgive something, I say, "Okay, this happened. Now let's work to get past it."

Interestingly, the topic of forgiveness came up during Jillian Michaels' presentation. Jillian discussed how her father wronged her and her family by treating them poorly and bringing them down, and then she expressed her need to forgive him in order to move on in her life: "You do not forgive to bring peace to the other person; you forgive to bring peace to yourself."

That is so, so true: like Buddha's quote above and like another that I know y'all have seen on Pinterest, "Holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die." Negativity is not going to come to the other person, and you are going to be the only one to get hurt.

(And really, why would we want to wish negativity on anyone regardless, even those with whom we do not get along?)

And that is why I have decided to bring forgiveness into my heart, specifically in regard to this friendship: I am being brought too far down with my anger and my resentment, and I need nothing but happiness and joy and peace in my life.

First, I am working on forgiving my friend for the wrongs I feel that she has done to me. I am working on forgiving her for not discussing with me whatever was so awful that caused our friendship to end.

But more importantly, I am working on forgiving myself for allowing the anger and the resentment to consume my life.

Teaching teenagers gives me ample opportunity to espouse wisdom, and I think the piece of advice I hear myself giving most often is, "You cannot control what so-and-so does: you can only control your own response."

In the case with this particular friend, with this issue of forgiveness, I need to practice what I preach: I cannot control what she does or how she responds (or how she does not respond) to me: but, I can control how I feel, how I act, how I think.

And so, friends, I choose forgiveness, I choose peace, I choose happiness.

If you're interested in reading more about forgiveness, check out this article.

How have you gotten over the "wrongs" you have faced? What strategies do you have for me in my journey toward full forgiveness?

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  1. Replies
    1. Thanks, Klynn! It took me forever to write and post. :)

  2. It always takes me time with forgiveness. I think people tell you to forgive and forget and sometimes it's just not that easy. Like you said, you have to allow yourself to give and then choose to forget, which takes time to get to the point where you can. Glad you allowed yourself the time you needed to get there.

    1. Thanks, Aly! I'm not sure I'm 100% there yet, but I'm working on it. :)