She sobbed. Uncontrollably. Clearly bereft and wounded, she found my suggestion to forgive utterly impossible to accept. ‘But he came into my house’, she pleaded desperately, ‘and destroyed my family’. The rage bubbled up in her swollen eyes. ‘I just can’t forgive him’, she wept convincingly, ‘he took everything … I just can’t believe I let him in’.

People hurt others in one of two ways; consciously or unconsciously. Sometimes people don’t really mean to be hurtful. Preoccupied with their own wounds and worries, they thoughtlessly trample over us. And then others … well they consciously wound. Some people are just hateful, selfish, hurtful and cruel.

Being duped is awful. In stunned disbelief we are left reeling as we count the cost in the aftermath of a whirlwind attack. It is ordinarily upsetting and egotistically shattering. We hurt often because we realise we ignored all the warning signs – but then people chose what they want to see and we really don’t like being caught out – especially by a fool. “Some go under the radar”, I told her, reflecting on when I had been far too supportive of someone who later showed me they didn’t deserve my precious time at all.

I would never insist anyone forgive someone who has utterly devastated them – I’m not an airy fairy spiritualist who thinks you should rise above them and thank them for the experience. I’m a grounded psychoanalyst who knows that recovery requires us to release ourselves from the experience as soon as possible, and in so doing, release ourselves from them. We got duped. It hurts. It happens. Move on.

There is always something to learn in our pain, if only to avoid the type of person who caused it, and ensure we become nothing like them. On a philosophical level too, I am sure there is an angel with a clipboard somewhere, waiting to see how we cope with the latest disappointment. And I trust in a karmic return. And that is the reason I suggest forgiveness. Not to work on forgiving them, but to put all our energy and focus on forgiving ourselves.

Forgiving yourself means accepting you made an error of judgement, accepting the circumstances that unfolded, acknowledging the weeping wounds in our ego as we dry our tears. We must resist all temptation to beat ourselves up as we make efforts to be really kind to ourselves. We are, after all, only human and we must learn to give Time time. Ultimately forgiveness means remembering that despite the deception we have retained something the duper will never possess – a kind, trusting, loving heart … and that is infallible and priceless.

With love,
Carole Sawo