By Ke’Ana Lampkins
Twelve years ago, I lost my mother to ovarian cancer. It was and still is the most challenging and most traumatic thing I have ever gone through. Not only was her death traumatic as a 15-year-old, but the pain that I suffered at the hands of my family was also almost arguably more traumatic than losing my mother. I didn’t understand how people who claimed to love you could do such hurtful things, especially children.
As I grew into adulthood, I observed them as people rather than ‘family.’ I was able to see that things that were done to me as a child were things that they were doing to each other! They weren’t just hurting those around them, but they weren’t hurt. When trauma happens, if you cannot process the pain to learn a new normal, that is healthy and conducive to your life. Instead, you may learn new ways to cope, and those may not necessarily be healthy things. Thus, the coined term, “hurt people, hurt people.” I hate this term because it almost sounds like an excuse to ease away the pain you inflict on others. But this term gave me power over those who hurt me. Because it helped me see them as people and not just as villains in my story, it helped me see that the pain they had caused it my life due to their undealt pain. I did not want to continue that cycle in my life, to my loved ones, and those important to me.
The truth of the matter was that I was walking around hoarding hatred and anger towards people who had no recollection of the hurtful things that were even said to me. They saw absolutely nothing wrong with their actions. The moment that I decided to forgive them, I realized it wasn’t for them but myself because I had given them so much power over me. Power over my grief and healing, power of my happiness, and power over my ability to move on.
The key to forgiveness for me lies in the vulnerability to say someone hurt you. Tell them they hurt you (if you believe this is a relationship you think is worth salvaging) and have courage enough to create a boundary so that it doesn’t happen again (if necessary).
Forgiveness is necessary, powerful, and to be honest, hard. It’s hard letting go of your anger and disappointment. But when you do, you invite peace and joy back in where those two emotions seemed like they would never see the light again.
Ke’Ana Lampkins is a contributing writer for The Pedestal Project, LLC. Ke’Ana is a Christian, wife, and mother dedicated to empowering young girls and women through counseling, mentorship, and education. Connect with her on Instagram @Beautifully_Yanni