This is what I have learned. It is not a light switch. Not that it can't happen in a moment. It can. But, well, it doesn't. I don't think. I don't think the forgiveness happens in a moment. I think the moment represents when you realize you have forgiven. Or healed. Or let go. When you look up and notice that the pain isn't there. Or the anger. Or hopelessness. That is what the moment is. The moment is the realization. Because the work of forgiving and healing takes, um, forever for me apparently. That is not a moment. Both are equally important. The work and the realization.
So it's not a light switch. In that you can't flip it and be done. Wouldn't we all wish it was like that. It's also not a light switch in that once it's on, it's on. Or off. Whichever imagery works better for you. At least it's not like that for me. The switch didn't flip and stay there. It's more like the switch flipped and then some asshole part of me stands there and flips it on-off, on-off, on-off. Like when you were kids and were trying to torture a sibling or create a strobe-like effect in your room.
Here's where I am. Still, at times, shocked as hell. I'm happy. I am healed/ing. I invited him back. I opened my heart, my home, my life again. So I should be good, right? I should be done. That chapter should be closed and buried. But that's not how forgiveness works. It's not a straight line for me. It doesn't have a threshold that once I crossed over, healthy and happy, I couldn't go back. Surprise!! I have learned I can be happy and healthy and then be triggered by some thing. A song or date, sure. Those are expected. Then there are the unexpected ones. When he is gone doing something. Like, I don't know, using the bathroom. Or he's on his phone next to me. Or I see dishes I left in the sink. My brain tries to rewire my body. Calm down. It's different. You're both different. It's all so different. But my fight or flight is alternately - abort, abort, run OR let's fight about that thing that happened two years ago because I just remembered I am still suuuuuuper pissed/hurt/ALLTHEFEELINGS about it! It's exhausting, frankly. For everyone.
So forgiveness doesn't have a finish line. It can be two steps forward and three steps back. You can be there and then...not be there. Knowing this makes it easier to give myself grace when those moments come up and I can't breathe. When the memory of the hurt is a fresh as the moment it was discovered. It also allows me to give myself credit for the work that I have done. And gives me strength and hope for the steps not yet taken.
If you are working on forgiving someone, anyone, even and maybe especially, yourself, don't give yourself a due date. (That is a terrible sentence. Grammatically. I know. Forgiveness starts with meeeee!) Don't assign some arbitrary time period or date that ends the journey for you. It's like a tide. It ebbs and flows. There are moments when you are still and it is good. There are moments that creep up on you. There are moments that will send you ass over tea kettle. But the ocean always returns to itself. I need to remember that. Maybe you need to, too.