Growing up, I was always told that you had to forgive people to be truly happy, and so early on...I developed this need to do just that. Forgive the people who hurt me, and try my hardest to understand why they were hurting me.
I am an empathetic person. It's easy for me to "slip into someone else's shoes" and imagine their pain. Feel it along with them, in a way...wish to change it. This makes it somewhat easier to understand the motive behind someone hurting me.
Understanding the potential reasons for someone's cruelty doesn't always mean you need to actively forgive them, though. My friend, Candice, reminded me of this today when she came by for a porch visit and chat.
We got to talking about everything, from our careers (Candice is a wedding photographer) to our physical disabilities and how they challenge us, but we wouldn't necessarily say they completely hold us back. We also discussed some recent dramas other people have brought into our lives, and how frustrated I was that this person continues to spread fear and discord in vulnerable medical communities*.
One of my favourite things about Candice is how she shoots it straight. She doesn't sugarcoat things, and she calls me out when I need it. Today, I needed the reminder that not everyone deserves my forgiveness, and I don't have to give it to find peace or understand why a person acts the way that they do.
You don't necessarily have to forgive someone to understand them. There are many people in my life who have hurt me so deeply that I can understand their motives, but never truly forgive them, and that's okay. I still offer them kindness because that's how I was raised.
I think it's worth a watch or a listen, if you haven't already:
"When you're in a place of deep understanding, it becomes impossible to hate the perpetrators or to feel anything but compassion and forgiveness."
Generally, when someone enters my circle; they don't leave it. My circle is an endless welcoming, warm place, where you are free to be human and make mistakes. My circle is uplifting and positive: it is understanding. I have been a safe place for so many of my loved ones to come shelter their storms, and I always will be available for them that way.
But I expect things from the people in my circles, too. Kindness, mainly. So long as you are kind and doing the best that you can, I will love you and I will help you.
"Look into their hearts and see what could have been healed that was not healed: what injury or damage or twisted thought created that behaviour and have compassion for that poor poor person that that was the only way they felt they could get through life, behaving like that."
I have had to let friends go over the years when they are not kind any more, when they take and take and take instead of recognizing that you've got to fill your cups before you drink from them. You can't take constantly from your loved ones; you have to give, too. Your time, your kindness. The takers become toxic, and toxic gets removed from my life.
I always warn people, though. I always tell them why they are unsteady with me, and what they can do to make it better. I give them a choice to do better, or I let them know why I'm walking away from that particular relationship.
*Since I've had more than one worried mom reaching out to me, confused and scared that their children with MHE are going to die of COVID-19 because some person on the Internet with a platform said they were at risk due to the heparen sulfate deficiency associated with our disorder, Multiple Hereditary Exostoses, I am going to take a minute to address that.
THIS IS NOT TRUE! This information has not been proven or backed in any way. Dr. Feldman, an MD and associate director at The Paley Institute in California says as much in this video he did back in March. He mentions MHE patients specifically at about 2:59 into the video.
Originally, this person got me too with that fear. I've since learned to let the fear mongering go and consider the facts presented by medical professionals.
So, if you are an MHE mama and your stomach is twisted with those same fears; please release them.