It is common knowledge that forgiving those that have hurt us will have a positive impact on our spiritual, emotional, physical, and mental bodies. We also know that not forgiving causes problems in all of those important facets. We know not forgiving does little to change the experiences we have already lived through. The question then becomes, why is forgiving those that have transgressed against us such a challenge?

Recently I have begun the process of reopening lines of communication with someone who I believe harmed me knowingly. It is such a strange and awkward process; in my heart I know it needs to happen in order for me to grow and move forward. In my mind, there are blinking danger lights flashing, I hear a consistent voice whispering, "be careful, you could get hurt again."

Simply put, I know I must press forward but I am scared. Not communicating with this person has been safe, but it has been unsatisfying, disconcerting, and stunting. It has been almost four years since I made the decision not to be in contact, and although that time away served its purpose, it is time to re-engage. I have forgiven and I need to allow myself the opportunity to communicate this growth with the person that needs to know the most.

Talking to those that I love and those that consistently advise me has helped me prepare for this moment when I face that loved one who did not meet my needs, and more than that, significantly hurt me. In confidence, I have spoken about the cassette tape that has played over and over in my mind with hurtful memories. With my many supporters, I have shared the feelings associated with unmet needs, disenfranchised desires, pain, rejection, neglect. I have processed my deepest wishes for what could have been in a relationship that I really needed as a little girl, a teenager, a young adult and a grown person.

After effort and time, the angry feelings dissipated, the profound sadness resolved, the victim stance evaporated. Taking time and processing with those I trust allowed me to heal the gaping wound and come out on the other side with empathy for this person. Clarity arrived; all people make mistakes. Understanding surfaced; there were deeply important historical reasons why my needs were not met by this person. Empowerment blossomed; a victim stance keeps me stagnant. Compassion developed; I care for the parts of this person that are hurt.

Yesterday, as I laid eyes on this person for the first time in a long time, I saw a human that tried his hardest and still came up short. I viewed a spirit that desperately wishes he could have created a better experience for me but was unable. I faced a man that cannot change the past but is, in the present moment, wondering who I am and wanting to know me. I looked through him into myself and saw the power of forgiveness and the strength of my soul. I saw all of the loved ones that have supported me in arriving at this phase, I felt all of the pieces of love I carry with me that others have unselfishly given.

Forgiveness is difficult because it takes time and energy, vulnerability and trust, trial and error, support and resources. All that being said, forgiving others is worth every moment of effort; it pays dividends by allowing us to know the softest parts and pieces of ourselves. There is little other way to know just how strong we are but to acknowledge just how vulnerable we are to the pain associated with love.