It is rare for me to hate. The emotion itself requires a lot of energy and has little reward. Ninety nine percent of the time I will let it go, whatever it is. However, when the hurt goes deep, which it has, I can carve out the space for a resentment that roots and festers. Over the past two years I let a hatred brew in me. Almost unaware of it’s power, I stroked the flames with sideways humor, covering up how much it really hurt.
Yesterday, while discussing the topic of forgiveness, a woman looked me square in the face and said, but what if what he did was so wrong and so abusive that I can’t forgive him. I don’t want to. I don’t wanna let him get away with it. How do I forgive?
I knew her plight and yet I knew to leave it there wouldn’t do either of us a bit of good. My festering resentment, her hatred towards an abuser, had gathered in the room. We had a choice, feed the bitterness or free ourselves.
There were so many reasons why she was right to hate, why I was as well. Yes, we had been wronged. However I shared with her what I will share with you.
Hatred keeps me attached to the one I hate.
Anger, bitterness, and resentment are a dance between two people, two nations, to religions, and until one person stops dancing the two remain attached. In the literature of 12 step recovery the writers propose a concept for forgiveness that for many years I found baffling. They suggest the we lay aside the other person’s part even if they were grossly wrong and focus only on our part.
Remembering that only children are victims, only children have emotions they can not control, I asked myself, “if I am not a victim of her ill will towards me, then what is my part? How have I watered this bitter seed?” I began to explore the reality:
She hates me…… I hate her. She talks about me to her friends……. I talk about her to my friends. She hurt me…… I might have hurt her. She competes with me…… I compete with her. She tried to take him from me…… I tried to keep him from her. She started it….. I keep it going.
If I strike through her part, focusing only on myself, here’s what I come up with: I hate her. I talk about her to my friends. I might have hurt her. I compete with her. I try to keep him from her. I keep it going. Wow! There in black and white, justified or not was my part, my dance, my energy in it. Laying aside the first part of each sentence, her part, I looked only at what I had brought to the table.
I paused. Took a deep breath and realized. I have the power to stop. I can let go. I can quit dancing. And when I do, my attachment to her, to being right, to proving a point, to getting “one up”, it vanishes. I cut the cord. I am free from the thing I thought chained me.
Hatred is an intimate attachment. I will not practice intimacy with those who hurt me. Therefore, I must forgive and thereby free myself.
——— Tyler Hayes
——– sending you love wherever you are in the world.