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What I learned about the power of forgiveness

I’ve had many crushes throughout my life, though there is only one instance where I thought I was in love. Of course, the love I felt was the warped, misshapen definition I previously accepted, but I felt the heartbreak nonetheless. Like every painful experience, I was able to take a valuable lesson from it.

From the moment this man came into my life, I decided he was the one. Now, this is not because he was so good to me or had all the characteristics I look for. If I’m being honest, there are very few moments I can remember where his presence brought me anything but discomfort. I decided I “loved” this boy to avoid feeling small. I conjured up a false reality in my mind to avoid facing the sad truth I never wanted to accept – people will not treat me the way I want them to. 

Notice how I said want them to and not deserve to? 

The biggest lie society has told our generation is that we are entitled to absolutely everything. I blame the participation trophies we were told to graciously accept in grade school. A ribbon that is basically saying “nice try” won’t make someone feel like a winner. The pain that comes with a loss is still there – it just opens up a window for denial. 

After about a year of going back and forth in my head, I decided this boy wasn’t worth it, and I decided to forgive him. The tricky thing about forgiveness is that although it starts with the initial decision to forgive the other person, that moment is seldom when the forgiveness actually happens. 

More often than not, when we think about forgiving someone who wronged us, we think we are owed an apology. Which goes against my previous point – nobody owes us anything. The funny thing about this situation in particular is that I didn’t want an apology. 

For the first month of our “friendship,” he failed to show me a single ounce of compassion. I was not blameless either. All I ever showed him was a wall built on pride and fear to avoid getting hurt. 

There couldn’t be an apology great enough to rekindle that friendship because it was never there. What I wanted from this boy was for him to confess that the reason why he treated me so poorly was because his love for me was so strong that he didn’t know how to act. Yes. I actually convinced myself of this. Isn’t the human mind interesting? 

Don’t get me wrong, I did truly care for him at one point. I truly had love for him as a friend, but in order to let go of my bitterness toward him from the pain I let him inflict on me (because no one can make you feel anything without your permission), this is the debt I felt he owed me. 

I also felt guilt for the way I treated him, so this debt not only frees him, but me as well. Because then I would get to satisfy my ego further and get forgiveness for my bad behavior. 

Thank God I realized this was crazy and am no longer pining over someone I don’t even want in my life. I am even more thankful for the valuable lessons this experience taught me.

If I had a time machine to go back to the day I met this boy and start over, I wouldn’t do it. So often, many people are agonizing over past relationships and dreaming of a different outcome. All that does is waste valuable time and strip the individual of their peace. 

I learned the importance of discovering my worth so that when I am mistreated, I can know it has nothing to do with me. Forgiveness is not for the other person, it’s for you. I learned to forgive others for their shortcomings and accept kindness as a gift. Now, I am no longer stagnant and looking back at what could have been. Instead, I shed my bitterness, excited for the windows that will open. 

Hofstra's It's On Us starts support group for student survivors of sexual assault

Hofstra's It's On Us starts support group for student survivors of sexual assault

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