i was told once by a reader that my life task/challenge is to learn how to forgive. i wasn’t surprised at all. i struggle with forgiving. it’s something that i had been working on before my chart was read, but after it was i have been focusing on it more.
earlier today i was thinking about toxic masculinity (thanks to Watch the Yard’s IG post) and how to dismantle it. i responded to the post (which is something i don’t normally do) explaining how toxic masculinity is a result of horizontal violence, specifically in the black community. paulo freire has written about oppression and horizontal violence is in his book pedagogy of the oppressed (10/10 recommend, it def changed my life). oppression according to freire is based on the desire to control. as a result, the oppressed embody some of the oppressors habits, leading to them wanting to control. this leads to toxic masculinity, in the context of the black community, because black men have very little they can control (due to institutional racism). so thus they try to control women and children, and other men. so what’s the key? what stops it? love. freire theorizes that the oppressed have to be the ones to free themselves- liberating themselves by recognizing the patterns of the oppressors they embody, as well as recognizing their own situation. the whole point is that if we understand the system, use our voices to talk about our experiences and educate, we can dismantle it. it’s a lot of work, but that’s a way to explain it simply.
so then i was thinking about love, and one of my favorite books, all about love, by bell hooks. in chapter 8, she talks about forgiveness. she explains that forgiveness is the act of truly understanding and allows the person who was hurt to turn from a victim to a co-creator in their own narrative. in the chapter she explains how she was hurt my people and took time to understand them, and forgave them. she even mentions how she’s encouraged others to do the same.
then my questions arise- well when does one truly know how to forgive? like how do you truly understand where someone is coming from? how do you maintain the space to allow someone to explain themselves? when is enough enough? how do you forgive and not let them back in?
mind you, i’ve done all of these things. it’s just that i feel like forgiveness is tricky. one thing i’ve learned from therapy is trauma rewires your brain. i know i struggle with identifying if the action was done to harm me or not, and it’s very hard for me to convince myself that people aren’t trying to hurt me. since i’ve had people who have, it’s not as easy for me to just say okay well they didn’t mean it.
i would love to get to that point where i don’t have a complete meltdown when something hurts my feelings. or when i don’t sit and cry for hours because i got a bad grade.
it’s hard for me to bounce back. and then when you factor in the concept of ego, and the idea that i don’t want to be hurt and am offended by someone hurting me, it gets even harder.
so what do i do? i meditate and do exercises to promote discernment (i.e. ego eradicator, receiving reiki treatments, healing sessions, yoga and a lot of praying). i ask for guidance and help.
i want to open my heart to forgive like bell hooks says. i want to be able to stand in spaces with those who have offended me and understand that their actions are a reflection of them and that they may actually not be personal. that’s the goal.
keep on trying to forgive. it may be hard but according to chapter 8, forgiveness allows love to exist. and we need love.