First, close your eyes.
Rewind back through the memories, the special moments, the days filled with laughter and nights you stayed up far too late going back and forth on the telephone. Remember how this person made you feel—light and alive, valued and understood. Think back to the times everything was easy, and what defined your connection was simply passion and care. Appreciate those moments for what they were, even if the relationship feels strained right now. Know that even now, what you had was still beautiful, still important, still valuable. And that fact won’t change.
Let yourself feel.
As you move through the past to the present, let yourself feel the pain, the ache, the confusion. Whether you’ve made mistakes or been wronged, understand that people are human—each and every of us—and sometimes we cannot change the trajectory of our, or others’ mistakes. We must only accept them, try to make peace with them.
Cry, if that feels right. Scream, if you are angry. Let yourself experience the intensity of emotions running through your veins and don’t apologize for them.
If faith guides your life, take a moment to pray. Pray for peace and understanding, for healing and some direction of where to go next. If you feel you are in the wrong, see if you can calm your emotions into action. If you feel you’ve been wronged, seek guidance. Trust that He will give you answers in time.
If faith is not what speaks to your heart, reach within yourself for answers. Try to come to terms with your decisions and the decisions of that person. Re-center in love and decide whether you wish to move closer to this person, or give yourself some distance.
Choose your path.
Forgiveness is beautiful and transformative. Yet for some situations and circumstances, it is not easy, and not always the best path. Forgiveness can set you free (especially when based in the Christian faith), yet forgiving someone doesn’t mean you accept what they’ve done to you, or allow that person back into your life. Forgiveness sometimes isn’t even about the other person, but about you, and giving yourself the ability to escape from the imprisonment you were in.
If you feel you are capable of forgiveness, choose to walk in that direction. If that move isn’t possible for you right now, seek healing instead. Focus on rebuilding, on strengthening your own heart and moving as far away from that person and relationship as you can in order to regain your sense of self.
Allow love in.
Forgiveness is rooted in love. This doesn’t mean you are obligated to love the person you are forgiving; it doesn’t mean someone is obligated to reengage with you. The action, however, is powerful in the sense that it allows for a new start.
Open your heart to the emotion. Let the hurt and pain fade away and be replaced by peace, by change. You are not accepting someone’s behavior; they are not accepting yours. But you both are starting over, starting new.
As you forgive, give yourself the necessary room to heal. Accept that someone who is forgiving you needs that same space. Do not push, do not try to rush, do not force healing or communication with yourself or someone else.
Take a break from the person who hurt you, or you hurt. Give both of your hearts time to rebuild so that when and if you do spend time together, you are not bitter or entangled in the past.
Understand that healing—on both sides—takes time. You cannot expect someone to bring you back into their life with ease, and the same goes for you. You must allow yourself the space to release anger and bitterness, to feel the promise of a new beginning float through your soul.
Breathe out every frustration, every doubt, every bit of fear and pent up negative energy in one long breath. Understand that you will not automatically be healed and confident, but you will have strength budding in your bones.
Accept the fact that relationships may never be the same, or there may be a line of trust that is broken and unable to be repaired. Know that people are imperfect, and though we must love the imperfection within one another, that doesn’t mean we settle for mistreatment or abuse.
Know that sometimes people will walk away or leave, but that is not a measure of who we are, or what we’re worthy of.
If you cannot be forgiven by someone, or they choose not to allow you back into their life—keep exhaling, keep trusting in your path. Perhaps a better, stronger relationship is coming. Perhaps God has a plan for you. Perhaps this is a learning moment that will shape the rest of your life in beautiful ways, even if there’s pain in the present.
If you cannot truly let go of what someone did to you, try as best as you can to forgive and articulate your brokenness, then seek and trust that you will be led to new connections, new people, new stories to write. Do not punish the person who wronged you, but understand that their path will catch up to them and there’s no need to seek revenge. Know that you will be okay. Look to your own heart for peace and growth. Exhale and start again.