Many of us have been through hard times. And it’s only natural when we’re hurt to want to revisit the source of that hurt, time and time again.
After I was subject to humiliating treatment by carers in a public psychiatric ward, I found it hard to forgive. I came out of hospital with all sorts of plans for how I would get revenge – wanting to sue the hospital or let the media know what went on inside the walls of the locked ward of that hospital.
My family convinced me this wasn’t appropriate – that that the staff were only doing their (very hard) job. But I felt let down by the medical profession, and angry that carers and nurses could have treated me so brutally.
Eventually, I stopped ranting and raving about their behaviour toward me and other patients. But to be honest, it was only years later that I found it within myself to forgive them.
Those carers will never know that I’ve forgiven them. But I knew that I needed to forgive them anyway.
We all know bitter people. They’re the ones that no one really enjoys being around because they wallow in self-pity and seem to constantly go on about every little thing that has ever happened to them.
Like a cancerous cell or a dangerous mould spore, bitterness thrives in the dark recesses of our hearts and feeds on every new thought or spite or hatred that comes our way. And like an ulcer aggravated by worry, or a heart condition made worse by stress, it can be physically and emotionally debilitating.
I admit that I struggled with feelings of bitterness about what had happened to me in the psychiatric ward. I felt that the horror of my experience somehow ‘exempt’ me from the need to forgive.
But something within me knew that I needed to forgive. Unforgiveness eats away at us until it spills out and corrodes everything around. And so, I dropped thoughts of revenge and I forgave.
While forgiving didn’t take away my pain entirely, it kept me from being sucked down into the downward spiral of resentment.
Once you are able to let go of wrongs that have been done to you, it changes everything. It will change your relationships, your attitudes and your whole approach to living.
Forgiving isn’t a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of strength.
Have you ever struggled with feelings of bitterness? Have you ever had to forgive people in the medical profession, or friends and family, for the way they have treated you while you were unwell?
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