I love writing! Who doesn’t know this by now, right?! To me, words are powerful, and writing helps bring so much clarity. So, let’s start with this quote-
I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say. -Flannery O’Connor
And well, it makes so much sense. Through writing, I’m able to unpack my thoughts and see them laid out before me, and suddenly I have answers I didn’t know were within me. As such, I have some questions that have been on my mind lately that I’m ready to find answers for. Brace yourself, my friends, this is a LONG post. You’ve been warned! 🙂
Let me lay my questions out here for you and then I’ll dig deeper into each one.
- Are we deserving of good from those we’ve hurt in the past?
- Are those who’ve hurt us in the past deserving of our good?
- If yes, then why would we feel undeserving of their good?
My degrees are in psychology, but perhaps I should’ve minored in philosophy, no? Lol! 😊 I just have so many life questions. Let’s get to it.
Are we deserving of good from those we’ve hurt in the past?
My short answer is yes, but let’s dig deeper here with a personal example.
I’ve talked a lot in my posts about being hurt by other people, but I certainly don’t think I’m the only one that’s been hurt in life. I’m guilty of hurting others too – unintentionally, yes, but that doesn’t make any of it less hurtful.
Let’s go back just a few years here. I connected so deeply with someone but being the emotional wreck that I was destroyed everything. For so long, I put the blame on him. And it wasn’t until I came out of the darkness, and made a concerted effort, that I was able to dissect everything and see it for what it was. I was not guiltless – I contributed heavily to the toxic pattern we fell in to. I am, without a doubt, just as much to blame. It was a different time for us, both going through our own situations, having our own heavy, emotional battles.
Seeing him as the only one to blame was unfair of me, and in doing so, I ended up hurting him more than words can say. I left this relationship in the only way I knew how to at the time, and I’m not proud of it. And it’s not at all who I am. In fact, it goes against everything I believe in. I am a loving person who doesn’t want to cause others pain, and I typically seek closure in order to move forward in life. But, given our pattern at the time though, I didn’t see closure as a realistic option because we had tried so many times before – to go our separate ways on a good note. It just never worked.
So, I woke up one day, decided enough is enough, I said my peace, and I walked away. It took everything in me not to fall back, but I kept my determination because I needed to crawl out of the darkness and heal myself. I was so emotionally heavy, I didn’t know what to do. And I felt that it was unfair to keep dragging him into my mess. I had so much healing to do from my life falling apart – I was emotionally unavailable, and I couldn’t give him what he deserved, and that hurt my heart. It just felt so unfair.
I was in a bad place – I didn’t love any part of myself, and I kept blaming him for that. But looking back now, it wasn’t his fault. He actually tried really hard to make me see otherwise, and he supported me unconditionally. I was just in no place to accept it. Here’s a quote that really helps put this into perspective-
If you hate and reject parts of yourself, you’ll have a really hard time trusting that another person can love, accept, and choose you. -Vienna Pharaon (@mindfulmft on Instagram)
So, here’s the thing – I hurt this man more than I can ever accurately put into words, mainly because it’s not my story to tell. But you know what, despite everything we’ve been through, he’s still the one person I’ve connected with the most. It’s entirely indescribable, and something I’ve learned to stop questioning. I think what’s important is that we’ve found the courage to forgive, and to still support one another.
He is the reason I recently began thinking about this question in the first place. I admit, it’s sometimes a struggle for me to accept him being good to me because I feel guilty for how I treated him, for walking away from what we had. But that doesn’t make me less deserving of his good now. We live, we learn, we hurt, we forgive, and we move on. And besides, hindsight is always 20/20 – how we see things in the moment, during the experience, is not typically how we see things once we’re removed from the situation and able to reflect on it.
When I explained this to him – not being deserving of his good – it was as if he’d never thought about it. It was no where in his mind that he shouldn’t be good to me now because of what we’ve been through together in the past. And let me tell you, that’s growth, and it takes a lot of forgiveness. At the end of the day, I think we mostly just get one another – and I think that can go a long way.
Are those who’ve hurt us in the past deserving of our good?
In keeping with the same personal experience here, let’s dig a little deeper from the flip side of things – while knowing that, again, my short answer is yes.
So, this man, he ended up teaching me so much in life – perhaps completely unbeknownst to him. Some things were in the moment, and with other things, it took great reflection and introspection on my part, long afterwards, to actually learn the lessons I was meant to learn. Because during our time together, I just couldn’t see past any of the hurt.
I was so wrapped up in my own emotions, trying to make sense of everything I was going through and feeling, that I let the bad cloud the good. Like that quote I shared – I had such a hard time believing that someone could love, accept, or choose me. I never felt good enough no matter what. I felt like impossible standards were set for me that I could never reach. I didn’t feel worthy because, at the time, I didn’t know my worth. And again, none of this was his fault, but I blamed him tremendously for how I was feeling. I’m guessing I thought that he was the only one there, so how could it NOT be his fault, you know? I didn’t yet know that it was up to me to own my feelings and heal my hurt. I had to learn that my healing was my responsibility, not his.
I think oftentimes it was in his approach and in his reactions that I felt the most hurt. I was so incredibly fragile, and sometimes his way of saying things left me feeling more broken, hating myself more – like I just couldn’t get anything right. I knew then that a person’s approach and their reactions to me were huge triggers for me, and I am still hyperaware of these things. But honestly, the “tough love” approach didn’t and still doesn’t work with me – I just didn’t know how to effectively communicate that then.
Up until this point, I didn’t recognize that my sensitivity to these things was for me to me to dissect, figure out, and work through. I just blamed it all on the other person without stopping to take responsibility for myself. And really, that’s just me projecting my own feelings onto someone else. I’m not excusing the approach and the reactions, don’t get me wrong. But it was an opportunity for me to recognize that I was a part of the problem too.
At that time, I was such the avoidant type and had little-to-no self-awareness. And I know now that, without these experiences, and without the recognition of a continued pattern in my life, I would’ve never known that I had a lot within me that needed healed. So, I am thankful for him and for the things I was essentially forced to learn because they were staring me in the face. It was through him that I learned how to stop avoiding my life.
Without a doubt, I felt very hurt by him, by his approach, by his reactions, by his words. I walked away from him feeling broken into a million tiny little pieces, and it was hard and heartbreaking. But I no longer hold it against him – because again, hindsight is 20/20. I see if all for what it truly was at that time.
Here’s the thing – I think we can easily choose to not forgive, to continue feeling bitter, and to feel as though someone isn’t deserving of our good because of what we’ve been through together. It’s easy to avoid and to not do the work required to heal. We can dwell on things that have happened to us, and the things we’ve been through, or we can use them as an opportunity to learn about ourselves and grow. We can also choose to take a good, deep look at our patterns, our relationships, and the opportunities to forgive. How we choose to see things is always our choice. What I know is that, through doing these things myself, I found healing.
So yes, he hurt me, and at the same time, he’s also still deserving of my good – because forgiveness is a huge part of friendships and relationships. We are human, and honestly, we don’t know what we don’t know until we know. I told him many times that I forgave him, but it wasn’t until I was able to dissect everything and find clarity and closure, that I was able to truly mean it. It’s really easy to tell someone you forgive them, but it’s a whole different thing to be able to truly mean it.
Last question now. You still with me here? If so, thank you!
If yes to that last question, then why would we feel undeserving of their good?
How is it that I feel the person who hurt me is deserving of my good, yet I feel undeserving of their good because I hurt them? Interesting question, right? I don’t think twice about being good to the man I felt so hurt by. But, when he’s good to me, I feel this twinge of guilt. I think it’s probably just about learning to leave the past in the past. We cannot change what happened in the past, but we can certainly change things now and in the future. And I think that’s really valuable.
If you have been forgiven, and you have extended forgiveness, then you owe it to yourself and to the other person to allow for a clean slate. I don’t think it’s about forgetting, but if you made the commitment to forgive, then you need to honor it and start fresh. Take the lessons learned and apply them now. Make the choice to learn, to grow, and to do things differently moving forward. It is, again, a choice.
It’s also just about being a good human, showing empathy, and being understanding of one another. None of us are perfect, and we all make mistakes. It absolutely does not mean we are less worthy of someone being good to us. We often project how we feel about ourselves on to other people, and it’s unfair. That’s what the twinge of guilt is that I feel – I am projecting my guilty feeling onto to him. He is just being good to me, and I deserve it from him just as much as he deserves it from me.
The truth is, everyone is going to hurt you. You just got to find the ones worth suffering for. –Bob Marley
An important note here – obviously I used one specific example to answer these questions, because it’s what’s been weighing heavily on my mind lately. But, if you were to use your own personal experiences to answer these questions, perhaps your answers would be “no”. And that’s okay! While you can always choose to forgive, forgiveness does not excuse a person’s behavior.
And so, I’ll end with this quote-
Don’t treat people as bad as they are, treat them as good as you are.