Forgiveness- What to do When you Hurt Someone you Love
Causing Someone You Love Pain
I was twenty five when my little brother found the love of his life. He and I had always been super close and my feelings towards his new girlfriend were skeptical. She wasn't from the small town we grew up in and I think I was leery of him getting his heart broken. I truly wanted him to be happy, but I did something that really hurt him; I hurt her.
I said unflattering things about his girlfriend to his ex-girlfriend in an email. It was immature and stupid and of course it got back to his girlfriend and it crushed her. I apologized, but in the midst of being caught red handed being a complete jerk, it sounded ingenue. Really, what she and my brother needed from me was to just shut my mouth and give them time. I had never gone very long without speaking to my brother. The truth was we had never been in a real 'fight' and it hurt to know that I had hurt him so much. Regardless of how I felt towards his girlfriend, what I did was not okay, and I knew it. In retrospect, I was judging someone far before I had a chance to know them, which is something we are all probably guilty of, but to be cruel about it can sometimes be unforgivable. Whether it is a spouse, a friend, or a relative, there are times we will hurt the ones we love, and it is important that we are able to find our way back to that relationship, rather than giving up.
Repairing the Relationship
Luckily, I have a forgiving brother and sister-in-law. Healing the relationship took some time and there are times when I was angry that it took so long, but in the end I’m glad it did. The time that it took gave me some time to reflect on why I did what I did, and what I could do to make it right. I am so lucky to have a great family, but it doesn’t mean we aren’t going to hurt each other and through this ordeal I learned that there are ways to help heal relationships that are important to us.
1. Give them space. This was hard for me. I really wanted to talk it out and make things better, right away. I wanted to explain myself and make them see my side (I really didn’t have one, but it sounded good at the time). All I did was make things worse by trying to talk to them. They needed time to be mad at me, time to process what I had done, and time to basically be away from me. Ugh! I really didn’t like that part.
2. Don’t make excuses. Sure, you may have an excuse for what you have done, but it really doesn’t matter. When you hurt someone, don't make excuses. Own up to what you have done and genuinely apologize. The only time you need to say ‘why’ something was done, is if they ask. Even then, you really need to watch the excuses, it can sound like your apology is less than meaningful.
3. Rebuild the trust. Even when your relationship is on speaking terms again, the trust will be very shaky. It can be shattered easily, so be on your best behavior. Try to make them feel important and loved.
4. Write it out. Sometimes a written apology seems to hold more value. Write it in a letter, send it in a card, or even an email. Just make it from the heart.
5. Forgive yourself. In the end you aren’t perfect and no one can expect you to be. Whether or not they end up forgiving you for your transgressions, you need to forgive yourself. Learn from your mistakes, give them the apology that they need, and build back the trust. If that doesn’t turn out to be enough, there is nothing more you can do, but move on and let them know that you care. It may take longer than you want, but many relationships will return, especially those with a strong foundation.
Learning From Our Mistakes and Moving On....
I have found my relationship with my sister-in-law to be something special. We are much more alike than I ever anticipated. Even though we may have had a rocky start I think that can often be a good foundation for a long standing friendship. I look forward to the times we spend together and feel super lucky to have her in my life.
As I write this hub, I remember being so afraid that my brother and I would never speak again. That I had ruined a relationship with someone I cared very deeply about and there was nothing I could say or do to bring it back. I am very glad that we were able to overcome the hurt that was caused and that I have a sister-in-law that encourages our relationship. Sometimes, when we hurt the ones we love, we can learn from that experience and make your relationship stronger.