When someone hurts you and you refuse to forgive them, it's like drinking poison and expecting them to die. Instead, by drinking this serum, you have subjected yourself to a slow, painful, agonizing suffering that only you can heal. My grandmother used to say you can't "make" anyone do anything, and over the course of my life I've grown to see that as truth. What I mean by that is, no one can make you mad or sad, you did that to your damn self. The wound always comes before the band-aid.
A lot of the hurt and pain we experience in life comes from our inability to forgive and unwillingness to heal. I've always had an interest in Dr. Phil, but as of late, I've found myself in an Iyanla Vanzant YouTube hole. In a new clip from her Get Over It book tour, she got real about how she found the strength to forgive someone who wasn't even sorry.
I first became familiar with Iyanla when I found one of her books in my mom's house that was written in 1999 called In the Meantime: Finding Yourself and the Love You Want. In the book, Iyanla teaches the fundamentals of mental housekeeping so that we can discover true love and happiness, but time proved to Iyanla (like it has for most of us) that sometimes it's harder to take your own advice. She explained to the audience:
"I spent, right here in New York, 40 years loving the same man, I'm a slow learner."
"In and out, in and out, in and out of relationship with this one man, trying to get from him what I didn't get from my daddy. But I didn't know it at the time. I thought it was love. In denial."
Her then-husband committed the ultimate betrayal by being unfaithful and making a decision to leave their marriage. After spending several years as a relationship expert, her marriage was in shambles. On an episode of Oprah, she explained that she felt like a fraud.
"How you gonna leave me? I'm Iyanla Vanzant. I've been on Oprah! Not only did he leave, he left me for somebody I knew. But he was going to do the same thing with a stranger, so it really didn't make no difference. I was in high pissosity."
In 2007, her divorce was finalized and Iyanla hit rock bottom. I know most of us have been at the point where we don't want to talk about it, we don't want to pray about it, we just want revenge:
"Sometimes you just don't want to be spiritual, you want somebody to burn in hell. That's why a lot of the time we won't forgive, because we want revenge. I want your a– to pay for what you did to me!"
It was at that point that Iyanla knew that she was drinking the poison, and only she was suffering. She made an important realization that most of us have to in the midst of heartbreak: Break free or break down. We are all abundantly anointed with oil and blessed with purpose, but you cannot fill from an empty cup. To live out our purpose and help others, we have to heal ourselves first. Iyanla said:
"I knew if I didn't forgive, my work with you would be tainted, so I had to."
Her initial attempts at forgiveness were futile because we all know, sometimes it's hard to let that hurt go. She wrote, "I forgive you". She said, "I forgive you" in the mirror. As hard as she tried to heal herself from the outside-in, she was unsuccessful. That's when she had a revelation I know that we're all familiar with that said, "Girl, it's time to go".
"I'll never forget the day God told me to get out of Brooklyn. 'Get out of Brooklyn!' I'd been here all my life, my family was here, everything I knew was here. Get out! Because you're never going to rise above where you are until you rise above who you are.'"
Iyanla chose forgiveness over revenge in the same way that we choose life over death every day. When you consume poison and regurgitate this emotional garbage expecting the demise of the accused, you will suffer every time, sis.
In your mind, think of the person who wronged you and know that they are not and have never been responsible for making you feel the way you feel, girl. You did that by not choosing forgiveness. Don't drink the Kool-Aid.
Featured image by Iyanla Vanzant/OWN