Forgiveness is such a valuable commodity. It is not something we give away freely. It all comes down to how we look at things and what perceived value it adds to our lives. If we see no benefit in forgiveness, we stay angry. Being unforgiving can seem like a protective mechanism and a thick coat of armour. This way hurt cant penetrate or show up to ruin our lives again. But is this true? Who is getting penalised, those who you are angry and hurt with or yourself?
It is not uncommon for something astonishing to occur when we do forgive. Events and occurrences we never thought possible can transpire. It is the universes’ way of repaying our trust in her. We need to find the light inside of all that darkness, hurt, revenge and condemnation which will allow us to dream big and feel love once again. And trust that life can be more than we ever expected, but we must hope, dream and believe everything can be better.
I once witnessed something absolutely extraordinary, which has stayed with me for many years. Let me paint you a picture. A young girl who lived in a small town surrounded by her extended family. The place breathtakingly beautiful in its simplicity with the air fresh and clean. Unfortunately for the young women, something sinister was ever present. There was an unspoken family history of predatory behaviour. As she grew and became an attractive, young free-spirited women, her father and eldest brother started using her as a sex toy. She had nowhere to turn and could tell no one of the unspeakable goings on given the size of her quiet town with its limited resources and close-knit community. And in her mind who would believe her beloved father and brother would do such abhorrent things. Over the period of 4 years, she was continually raped, and appalling things done to this innocent girl. Then eventually, she was able to escape the horror and move to another country with the help of a stranger.
As the years went on, she had counselling and hours of therapy. She struggled to understand why the people who should have been protecting her betrayed their duty as guardians and were her most violent enemy. She decided to turn her gruesome struggles around. Travelling overseas helping young girls and women in countries less fortunate. She promoted safety and provide support which allowed the women to escape from similar existence and helped them to resettle and start again. She built a life which gave her pleasure, one where she could relate to the people she empowered and work hard to heal both their lives and her own broken soul. Her experience turned out to be rewarding; she built a reputation for helping others and paying back to their communities.
You may think this was the astounding part, but something entirely unexpected happened when l heard her speak. She talked about the forgiveness she felt towards her father and brother. She talked about how they still lived in the small ignorant town, with nowhere for generations of families to go and how 99% of people stayed as they knew nothing different. The people had little ambition or knowledge of what the wider world held. How her brother still worked at the local supermarket as he did 15 years earlier and her father was ill with cancer after years of smoking and drinking. He had little purpose in life and nothing to get him out of bed in the morning. Their lives, mundane and miserable.
Now, this is where the power of positive thinking can change anyone’s perspective of life. Rather than see the awful things that her male family members had done to her, she was grateful. I kid you not when l say this. She was thankful! Believing that if those things had not happened to her, she would still live in the small town rather than travelling the world. Working in the local supermarket as she did as a teenager and as her brother now does. Instead, she had written a book and ran a business helping others. If she hadn’t been raped, she would not be able to help counsel and support other women. Helping transport their lives and adding value to those around her. She led by example. Out of her mouth, she said: “I love my Dad and brother, they changed my life for the better.” She saw her perpetrators as the victims. Stuck, unhappy and nowhere to go. They had the issues, not her. This was powerful stuff, coming from an incredible individual. She was grateful and forgiving.
‘I never knew how strong I was until I had to forgive someone who wasn’t sorry, and accept an apology I never received.’
There is a difference between being forgiving and forgetting. Forgiving those male family members allowed her to move on with her life. Rather than harbour negative feelings, she chose the opposite. She decided to be happy and have love in her life. To do this, she had to forgive them. Otherwise, the negativity would have eaten her from the inside out. Forgetting was an entirely different thing. She had learnt from her experience and was no longer naïve and innocent; she was now strong, secure and independent. She saw the beauty in the simple things in life and took nothing for granted. She loved those who deserve her admiration and kindness and was wise enough to know who to be guard with.
The other way to look at life’s contrary events is to view them as lessons. There is a difference between those who have dealt with hurt in their lives and those who haven’t. Once you have been close to breaking point and returned to live a bigger, more fulfilled life, nothing can stand in your way. You have been to the dark side once and survived; you know you are strong and can endure the horror life can bring, no matter what level or extreme.
This now becomes a strength that those who haven’t lived through cannot comprehend. Just like muscle memory, the more you can deal with emotionally the stronger you become and the less you need to live a life of material abundance. Your decision-making skills are now changed forever. The reason being, you are no longer scared of losing that which meant so much. You will, of course, be careful, but you also know if l can get through this l can get through anything life delivers. Material possessions are nothing in the scheme of things and can easily be replaced. The beauty of coming from the acceptance of others and the understanding that we are all different. This is a gift and people who have not seen hostile times, don’t know the power of returning to greatness. And to move forward, there MUST be forgiveness.
In my career as a Divorce Angel, dealing with men and women who are negotiating their way through relationship breakdowns, separation of assets and their most significant achievements, children. There is any number of feelings and emotions that surface. The reasons can vary for such misery after the hopes and dreams of life no longer possible. People can be hurt and angry and sometimes can’t even verbalise why. They are hurt beyond belief and turn into different individuals. There are trigger points, from childhood and events that have occurred throughout the relationship. Sometimes they are also annoyed with themselves, for allowing such situations to transpire. Looking in the mirror and seeing cracks can be very confronting. Then having it shatter with glass everywhere, we go into fight or flight mode. Our survival is foremost in our thoughts and actions, and this is where we can see the worse of human behaviour towards those we once and may even still love.
For me, this is such a sad period. I see my job, to explain to my clients that they will not always feel the way they do. And the emotions that have currently surfaced will dissipate with time. If l can get my clients to think differently and have a positive attitude. Their decisions and negotiations will be completely different. It is like a sliding door moment and the time is now to make the right judgement. If they continue being bitter, hateful with a vengeance as their number one outcome, nothing will go to plan. The fight becomes the most critical outcome in their life. The money will be spent just to prove a point and provide benefit in no way. Generally, with the children as collateral damage of their parent’s inability to concede, co-operate or take responsibility for their part in the relationship.
In the rare occasion, the opposite happens, and a divorcing couple does it with respect and love for each other and the world they have built, the outcome is calm, and the couple can move on quicker. Before they have even commenced exiting their marriageable existence, they realise that the roads they have travelled as a couple have taught them valuable lessons. Making them grateful for the time they have spent and forgiven the mistakes they have made along the way. These couple, save time, money and unnecessary hurt. It usually takes one partner to take the higher ground and to be the bigger person. Then the other will follow suit. Taking out the animosity and anger. Communicating for their future rather than living in their past.
In hindsight, I look back on my divorce and now know that the pain and emotions l felt at the time were me not knowing the part l had taken in the demise of my 20-year marriage. After counselling and plenty of work on myself, it is now clear to me that l also had a hand in our failure. At the time l was confident it was all my ex-husband’s fault. However, for every action, there is a reaction, and the pressure I put on him made him act and do the things he did. Once, l forgave myself for the part l played and then him for his actions, my life improved immeasurably. Forgiveness set me free and allowed me to deal with him amicably. Recognizing the best for our children to shine through and always be at the forefront of every discussion. I will be connected to this man for the rest of my life. But the lessons ring loud in my ears and help me guide my life down a path of happiness. I will never forget, but l have forgiven.
If you are dealing with a divorce, please remember all the good. Think of the positives that were born from your relationship. Life is too short, for hate and sorrow. From my business point of view, there is a significant difference between the people who are civil, respectful and forgiving in their dealings with each other during separation and divorce. Their costs are halved. They can move on with their lives gracefully, and there is far less stress. The children are generally happier, and there is less pressure on the extended family as there is no need to pick a side
In contrast, those couples, who treat each other like the enemy, with hostility and anger, the lawyers love. These couples make the legal fraternity rich. They are just after revenge and want to see the other person in pain. They don’t listen, and can’t see the damage they are causing. This ripple, these actions leave in a person life go on till the day they die. They are resentful and looking to blame anyone but themselves and struggle with future relationships.
Taking the young women I told you about at the start, she has every reason to be full of hate given the thing that happened to her at such an early age. She would not be blamed for rolling up in a ball and resenting her father and brother for what they did. Instead, the strength she has shown to turn her life around is awe-inspiring.
How can her experience even be measured against the breakdown of a relationship? It can’t. Yet, I see more hate from some husbands and wifes after a decade or so together, with children that have been born into the world with love. If only l could hand out forgiveness to those couples like a box of chocolates. They could take a handful, and their futures could turn out to be remarkably different.
Tanya Somerton is the ‘Divorce Angel’, whose business is to facilitate a seamless and amicable divorce and separation with the aid of her ‘Army of Angels.’ Tanya provides a step by step process which limits cost and conflict that sees you achieving your most financially beneficial outcome possible, now and for the future.
She is also the author of The Jelly Bean Jar – Empowering independence through Divorce. If you are looking to prevent any mistakes and save money this book is a must. Purchase your copy http://tanyasomerton.com/shop/the-jelly-bean-jar/