Have you ever locked your own self in a prison and unjustly held other people responsible for this? Unfortunately, that's what happens when people usually hurt us, instead of liberating ourselves by forgiving them and setting boundaries, we instantly decide to dwell on negative self-talk and unresolved anger; thus unknowingly, we choose to punish ourselves by getting imprisoned in our own self-imposed prisons for years.

Likewise, at any point have you figured out for what reason do we prefer revenge over forgiveness? The answer is simple; it is not easy to forgive. Biologically we have a negativity bias, our minds are inclined to dwell more on things that are wrong than are right. Additionally, through two negatives we attempt to make a positive: we think every hurt should be dealt with grudges. That’s wrong.

“Forgiveness is in fact the key that liberates us; it needs a great deal of courage to forgive the unapologetic and free ourselves from our self-made prisons. But once we forgive, trust me, we gain all our powers back because forgiveness empowers us,” says Zahrah.

Zahrah is an exceptionally courageous woman. She was born and raised in Egypt. She has worked as a designer in several fields across the globe. Currently, she is an independent visual artist. She resides in Egypt with her son and husband. Here she will tell us how she forgave the unapologetic people and liberated herself from her self-built prison.

That day I was very happy. I was going to be a mom for the second time. Because of certain complexities, doctors revealed to me that I would go through C-Section. As a matter of fact, I was prepared to confront all the pains since I knew in return of the considerable number of dangers and inconveniences I would meet my child. I remember when I was being wheeled into the operation theatre; I was carrying my baby’s clothes in my hands. A little while later, when I opened my eyes, I expected certain things: immediate skin-to-skin contact with my baby and to hear that cry, however it never occurred. In that room I could see my friends and relatives but my son.

When I asked, "Where is my son?" My mother-in-law handed over my child's garments to me and stated, “I have given your child to my daughter since she has no children."

In a state of complete shock and distress, I tried to investigate from my husband, but he asked me to stay quiet. After spending three days in hospital, I went to my home empty handed. Within three days, so much had changed: I had left my home for hospital cheerfully but returned with such an anxiety and outrage.

The very day I was informed, “Your sister-in-law will travel to America with your son soon. You will never attempt to contact your child. Also, you will never reveal to him that you are his mother. You better move on and don’t create any fuss.”

Without my permission my son had been handed over to her. How could I move on with this injustice? He was a part of my body and soul. That day I decided, I would never forgive them.  

I never knew amid chaos and agony I was taking the wrong road: the road to anger and bitterness. Lots of questions took place in my mind, but I was never allowed to challenge the decision. It was a very difficult phase of my life. I felt confused, angry, agitated, frustrated, sad, depressed, disconnected and empty. I lost my focus and totally stalled in the melancholy; I was unable to proceed onward and thus turned out to be bitter. Wrath and resentment became a permanent feature of my personality and, therefore, damaged my emotional and physical health. 

On the other hand, those who wronged me, they were very unapologetic: for them everything was fine, they would always say that they had taken the right step. Nobody at any point apologised to me. In short, those who had totally transformed me into a harsh and furious woman, they were living their lives cheerfully and were not at all ashamed of making my life miserable.

After walking alone on the rough road of grief for a long time, at last, I got worn out and acknowledged I should put an end to all this pessimism. "What's going on with me? Where am I heading?" I chose to make a pledge to myself to do every possible thing to liberate myself from anger and resentment, “I have only one life and I can't remain detained for my entire life.” I, consequently, chose to forgive those who snatched my child from me.

Let me tell you, forgiveness doesn't mean you reconcile with people who hurt you, or condoning their actions. Forgiveness is more for you than the person who requires it. You need to release the person/situation to be able to move on with your life. What you actually want for yourself is peace. By not blaming others and taking life experiences less personally we can change our grieve into strength.

It needs a lot of courage to forgive the unapologetic. Forgiveness is not a one off decision; it is a tough process that takes willpower, time and perseverance. I developed forgiveness muscles through different techniques to calm my body’s flight & fight response. I took help from prayers, aromatherapy, yoga, zumba, walk, breathing exercises, meditation, painting, creative work, positive self-talk and gratitude journaling. Most importantly, I stopped sharing my feelings with those friends and family members who always reinforced negativity.

I have realised the biggest disappointment in our life is often the result of misplaced expectation. Tempering our expectations of other people really reduces frustration and distress in our life and helps us refocus on the things that truly matter. Additionally, I don't trouble myself much with respect to how others must act. I am just concerned about my ownself; I have changed my emphasis from hurt, anger and resentment to health, happiness, peace and prosperity.

Forgiveness has, in a real sense, empowered me; it is so therapeutic. I don’t feel suffocated anymore; I can breathe. It has washed the entire wrath that I had kept inside me for so much time. I don’t feel burdened any longer. I am not a looser; rather I am a winner on the grounds that through forgiveness I have regained my powers and self-control.

After conversing with Zahrah, I have come to the conclusion that throughout life people will infuriate us, disregard us and treat us badly; we can’t control people and their behaviour. It is futile to answer hurt through grudges because hate in our hearts consumes us too. It’s good to forgive people; set boundaries, don’t expect from them, practice gratitude and just focus on your own well-being.

In a nutshell, rage enslaves us whereas forgiveness empowers us. If you forgive people, it doesn’t mean you agree with what they did or believe they were right. Forgiving them means you have chosen not to dwell on the matter anymore; you have moved on with your life. Forgiving does not erase the bitter past instead it creates a new way to remember. Forgiveness is seldom a “one and done” thing; we must forgive again and again. Forgiveness is not an occasional act; it is a constant attitude.

(The name and some details have been changed to protect the privacy of the story teller.)