Thoughts on Forgiveness

Being present with what is, in the moment: how can we do this?

Restoration is not necessarily reconstitution of the past relationship.

What is present now? (We are mostly present with our discomfort around a story we have that is based on a past experience rather than what is right before us, what is right between us, NOW.)

At the same time, let’s not rewrite our histories or choose to forget what still speaks itself to our bones.

There is no regret, only the path forward, which will take us to destinations that will see us as our reborn selves.

There are no binaries (that is, who is at fault vs. not at fault; several experiences and realities can be held in the same space).

Some relationships don’t necessarily require deeper conversation.

It’s up to people to determine the impact of the harm they believe was inflicted on them and whether or not they want to proceed with forgiveness; in proceeding with forgiveness, both sides must take responsibility for the relationship that is built or rebuilt.

We cannot ultimately expect others to forgive us; we only have control over what and who we forgive and whether or not we choose to forgive, so this is what we must focus on when approaching a relationship that has experienced a rupture.

The most important forgiveness to consciously practice is the forgiveness of the small fractures that occur within a relationship.

In choosing to emphasize the harm we suffered at the hands of others, we may also perpetuate similar hurt, either knowingly or unknowingly.

All relationships must honor the freedom of everyone involved.

The ultimate freedom is the truth.

To withhold the truth is the cause of the greatest suffering.

Forgiveness is not about letting bygones be bygones; it is an opportunity for intention-building.

What happens when people enter a rupture together? Who will they be? This is the most important question we can ask ourselves in relationships.

To make one's expectations explicit and to invite the same of others is the greatest vulnerability of all.

Allowance of what IS doesn’t mean allowing someone to walk all over you; forgiveness in the context of a relationship requires nurturance of the relationship over pride in one’s position and righteousness.

One can integrate their mistakes if they know they aren’t going to be shunned forever.

We become bolder in our choices when we know that we will be held by others if we make a mistake.

What if you didn’t think you were an awful person with erroneous judgment? What if you chose to believe that you didn’t know who or what you were?

What would happen if we chose curiosity—about ourselves and one another?

How would we increase our vocabulary of what happens in the aftermath of a hurt perpetrated or a wrongdoing done?

What comes in the wake of rage and disappointment? 

At what point do we refuse to accept the myth that we are our wounds? And that other people are here to simply rub salt in our faces?

It is necessary to see ourselves as part of a larger organism; extending love to others is a way of extending love to oneself; caring for the growth of another is caring for the growth of oneself.

I’m Nirmala Nataraj, a New York–based writer, editor, book midwife, theater artist, and mythmaker.

As someone who has woven in and out of a number of different word realms—nonprofit communications, advertising, theatre, publishing, and community arts, to name a few—I know that liberation is possible through the stories we choose to tell. As a first-generation South Asian American, I myself exist in the liminal spaces between cultures, art forms, and languages—and it is this multiplicity of narratives that informs my personal and professional approach.

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