To err is human, to forgive is divine. Maybe…. But I think it should say: To err is human. To forgive may be divine, but it sucks and sometimes feels impossible.
Forgiveness is not about condoning the act that needs forgiving. It’s about freeing yourself from the anger and resentment you’re holding onto by NOT forgiving. That’s why we do it. And that’s where I found myself a couple of years ago – in a place of needing to forgive someone because the anger was eating me up inside.
What I needed to forgive was actually a 30-year-old wound –something I thought I had gotten over. Yet, after my dad passed away that old would reared its head. Grief is funny that way – it can bring up old shit that you swore you were beyond. So, there I was, dealing with 30-year-old anger on top of my dad’s death. Oh joy. (Hardly…)
There was someone in my life I needed to forgive; yet, I didn’t know how to do it. This person was a very big part of my life (and had been for most of my life) and I suddenly was reminded of all the ways this person’s presence had hurt me and my family many years ago. I didn’t know how to respond or deal with this individual anymore – I didn’t know if I wanted to. While discussing this with my mentor and coach at that time, Anne Davin, she said words that changed everything, “Andria, it sounds to me like you need a F*ck You F*ck Off Campaign.” (From here on out known as FU-FO campaign.)
My head perked up and my eyes lit up. “Oh? What’s that?!”
It’s essentially what it sounds like. You basically tell the person “F-You. F-Off” without actually saying it to them. Instead, you do it through your own campaign to heal your emotions by giving that person the good ole “screw you and what you did to me.” Never mind how you grew from it and how it all worked out for the best. That may be true, but the hurt and anger – they are also true and need to be honored. It is only by processing the hurtful emotions that you can reach forgiveness.
Here’s how my FU-FO campaign went:
First, I decided I could not have contact with this person.
I basically cut off all communication until I knew I was ready to re-engage. When I began, I had no idea how long this would last. It ended up lasting a few months.
Second, I had no expectations of what the result would be.
I didn’t go into this campaign with any intention other than reaching a place of peace in my heart and forgiveness for being hurt many years ago. I didn’t know if I’d want to continue a relationship with this individual. That didn’t matter. What mattered was my reaching a place of peace. From there I’d know exactly how to proceed with a future relationship.
Third, I wrote and raged.
Ah yes, this was the real meat of the process. I wrote and wrote and wrote all the awful negative nasty things I’d been feeling and that were pent up for the prior 30 years. I had an entire journal full of letters never to be sent, and entries never to be read by anyone but me. That journal has long since been burned.
I raged to a “hate song”. What’s this you may ask? It’s a song you can dance it out to, run to, workout to, blare loudly as you let those angry emotions OUT of your body. Just Google: “songs with the word hate” and you will have your pick of the litter. My specific FU FO song? [I Hate] Everything About You, by Ugly Kid Joe. It was perfect for this situation. It wasn’t that all the words matched my circumstances – they didn’t. But the tone of voice, the rhythm, and many of the words allowed me to feel those emotions fully and let them out of my body. I ran repeatedly to this song and as I did I’d envision leaving a cloud of gray dust behind me as the anger left my body. I danced to this song. When this song spontaneously came on the radio in my car, I blared it loudly. It was perfect. It worked – every part of my FU-FO campaign worked.
Those were the essential elements of my FU-FO campaign. As I mentioned, it lasted for a few months. How did I know when it ended? I was at neutral and felt peace when I heard about or thought of this person. I was no longer angry. I had forgiven what happened many years ago only because I allowed myself the space to feel my anger and hurt. Only by doing that was I able to reach forgiveness. And today? We have a great relationship – better than before. That never would have happened without my FU-FO campaign. Today I laugh when I hear that song by Ugly Kid Joe. I laugh because I remember how much I loved it and how empowered it made me feel, and I laugh because I don’t feel any of that anymore and it’s a beautiful thing. I have freed myself from all that anger and resentment. That is why we forgive. And, that is why to forgive is truly divine.
Are you struggling to forgive someone? Perhaps you need to start your own FU-FO Campaign. Honor your emotions. Let them be felt and expressed, and you too can forgive and be free.
This post originally appeared on HuffPost on June 27, 2017.