All this time, when I read about forgiving and moving on, I simply took in the idea, and agreed. I have never really carried out a proper act of forgiveness or felt its true power before.
Today, I was thinking about something hurtful that happened to me some time ago. I relived the pain, the hurt and bewilderment I felt back then in the 5 to 10 minutes that I replayed the incident over, and over again in my mind. I realised that I was starting to feel sick. My chest felt constricted, my stomach souring from the gastric juices that were secreted due to the stress, and my heart felt so heavy with sadness and pain. Then, all of a sudden, I decided it was enough. What happened had happened. It was already in the past. I no longer wanted to relive it or even be controlled by the fear it had created and planted in me. If it happens again, I would definitely have the sense and courage to remove myself from the person who is hurting me, but for now, what I need to do is to forgive.
A friend told me: To forgive a person, you need to express it to the person. Let the person know that whether or not he/she is worthy of your forgiveness, you will forgive him/her. Only with this sincere expression of forgiveness, you will be able to move on and be released from the pain.
But I believe that sometimes, a person may not be ready to hear of your forgiveness. This person may not understand what needs your forgiveness for perhaps the incident had passed, and they prefer if it not be dredged up again. Or maybe this person is no longer part of your life? This is where I am applying my personal method. I did it today, and I felt freer of pain than I had been in a long time. I am now free of the fear that this incident had planted in me all this time, and I can take another step forward in my journey to personal freedom.
At first, it was only a thought in my head. I told myself it was time to forgive and move on. If you love yourself enough, or even if you loved the person enough, you will forgive them. But that does not mean you tolerate the action. It only means that you recognise it as a hurtful action this person had done unto you, and you will not continue or repeatedly judge or condemn the person for it. After this thought had materialised in my head, I felt some of the load had lifted, and I felt so happy. I was so happy, that I decided to move on to the next step.
The next thing I did, was to verbalise the forgiveness. Since I couldn't say it to the person, I wrote a letter to the person. In the letter, I wrote about how I recognise the action had been done, but because I would like us both to move on and heal from it. I am forgiving this person for it because I want to release the person from the burden of carrying the blame for hurting me. I want this person to know that what was done is forgiven. Because I want to be able to continue to love this person in earnest, I will forgive, and hopefully from now on, this person will feel nothing but love from me. No more blame, no more judgement and no more condemnation... I wish this person to be free from the dark moments we had because of the incident.
By the time I finished the letter, I felt like a different person. It's like one of those scenes in a movie, where a smoke of darkness leaves a person's body to dissipate into thin air. I felt free of pain... to the point that the very thought of that dark time didn't even prick me. It became just a thought, a happening... sort of like a leaf that happened to fall on the pavement; nothing.
So if you have always thought that you forgave someone for something they'd committed against you, but all you did was just ignore the person or incident, try to forget it, or simply suppress it in your memory... I am here to attest that this pain will come back to haunt you. The best way to move on and release yourself from this is to face it; understand that what the person did was nothing personal to you (refer back to Don Miguel Ruiz's The Four Agreements), and forgive them... for it is not your fault or doing that they did it, and to understand that you have no control over what people do. It is especially easy to believe that none of this is your fault, if you have done your best to be impeccable all this time. You can take your moment to relive the whole incident and reassess it, but once you are done, tell yourself that it was not your fault it happened. Once you have done that, tell the person...
"I forgive you. Whether or not you are deserving of forgiveness, I forgive you. Because I want to release myself from this pain so that I may heal and move on, and I wish for you to release yourself from the guilt and burden of hurting me so that you may do the same."
Well... do it in any way that you like, but just try to express the forgiveness; be it on paper or verbally to the person in question. Whether or not the act of forgiveness is appreciated, it doesn't matter. The most important thing is... you are now free from that pain :)