By Forgiving, You Don’t Change the Past, but the Future

I gave both of them a chain. A symbol of their relationship.
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I’d never received a letter from an eight-year-old correspondent before. In a nutshell, eight-year-old Lucy wrote: “Dad’s left, mum’s suffering.” But it wasn’t a bizarre story. It’s enough for me to give the man’s point of view.

“She’s dying and I can’t watch it. Yes, I’m a shit.”

“It could take months and years and I don’t want to waste my life. Maybe I’m cruel, but we each have only one life.”

“I left her for another woman, who is younger and healthy. With her I live, with the other I’m dying.”

I was the first time that in a personal interview I started crying and that I embraced the “client”—the eight-year-old Lucy. I embraced her, because she, in contrast to him, didn’t run away from her mum. Even though her dad promised her “a better life—further away from death”.

For Better or For Worse

It’s a week since I filmed a video recording for two readers who got to know each other through our dating platform WithYou.cz and are to be married next Saturday. I reminded them of the basis of a long-term partnership: being together for better, for worse. With the rider that if you don’t intend to be with the other for worse, you don’t deserve to be with them for better.

“There will be no ‘better’ with my sick wife. Why would I be with her for ‘worse’?” the man laughed at me. I finished my coffee in silence, got up and left. I bought the most colourful bunch of flowers and pressed the bell on the “House of the Two Inseparable Ladies.”

“No bodily pain, Petr,” she told me, “is as great as emotional pain. I can’t forgive him for leaving. I keep saying It can’t end like this, can it? The door will open and he’ll come in. I open the old photo albums here and see how generous he was, how he never left me—until I got sick,” she added dejectedly. “How am I supposed to live now… or rather,” she gave a bitter half-smile, “just hang around until death?”

I looked right into her soul—through her blue-grey eyes—and understood the pain. Nothing hurts a person more than when the only person that wounds them is also the one they love.

“Are you asking what to live for now?” I asked. “Maybe you can realise that for yourself.” I winked at Lucy, who covered her mum’s eyes from behind. She was startled, but smiled immediately. She didn’t see the answer, but she felt it.

She felt the touch of an angel that was standing by her, whose smile showed her white teeth, who had not given up anything and who was sending joy to the soul through her fingers over her mum’s eyes. She experienced what it makes sense living for. Not for days, but for experiences. At the end of life, we don’t remember all our days, but everything we EXPERIENCED. That’s why we shouldn’t measure life in time, but in actions, periods of joy, feelings of happiness that we can pile up every second—only because we are TOGETHER with the right person.

“You have a treasure,” I told her. “In your memories, you’re turning over stones, but you’re overlooking a diamond that’s right in front of you. From there,” I pointed to the door, “no diamond can come back. Your daughter needs you more than ever before. Because she needs to see how a strong woman behaves.”

Where There Is No Love, There Can Be No Forgiveness

We are all dying. That’s the reality. Day by day, everybody’s life is getting shorter.

Life is short, too short to waste it on regrets. Our approach to people can be simple: Being grateful for those that treat us well, forgiving those that treat us badly, and believing that everything happens for a reason.

As I write in recent posts, the basis for the ability to forgive is (perhaps paradoxically for some) love. Where there is no love, there can be no forgiveness. If we love somebody, we can forgive them. We know that it is a person that makes mistakes, maybe even needs to make them, to understand how expensive the mistakes are, and never repeat them.

When we don’t forgive, we damage ourselves more than the other person. It is we who are full of rage, vengefulness, reproaches, self-pity and other forms of negation. We punish ourselves. On the contrary, when we forgive, we recognise that forgiveness is the most beautiful form of love. We get something in return—in our soul peace settles in, in our hearts we have a special feeling of happiness.

The weak do not forgive. Forgiveness is a privilege of the strong. No strong person falls from the sky, everybody has to build up their strength gradually, and that takes time. That’s why we aren’t able to forgive immediately, and that’s fine.

We are weak, provided we have the desire to take revenge. We start to be strong when we can overcome our rage, or even admit that the bad that has happened could actually be a useful experience. On the contrary, we start to be grateful that we have recognised the other person—their actual character, after the mask has fallen. We stop waiting for an apology or their eventual return, because we realise that we don’t need, and don’t even want a person like that by our side.

Some time after I first hurt a woman, I received a letter from her. Its three sentences clarified everything: “I have decided to forgive you. Not because you apologised or because you could understand what pain you caused me. But because my soul deserves peace.”

I had kept this letter for fifteen years, and now I gave it to the woman. “When the right time arrives and he comes, trust yourself to be strong. Not even I suspected how much strength I had inside me until I forgave a person who never apologised, whose recognition of error never came.”

“Don’t expect,” I added, “that people will always understand you. Instead, try to understand them. In so doing, the transition from unhappiness to happiness will be found. Your daughter,” I nodded towards her, “needs a strong and happy mum. And that’s you.

How to learn this? How to forgive him? How to stop making yourself suffer? How to finally turn your gaze to the future?

She put her head in her hands in despair. But she let me take her hands.

“How can you take something new into your hands if they are full of old stuff?” And so together we learned to store old stuff and leave it in the past. So that, unburdened, we could finally step into the future.

Are you interested in the four steps of forgiveness?

What is—and what isn’t—forgiveness?

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