Maybe I am just being naive or I’d like to think that people can change, but I am a firm believer in giving people a second chance. We all f**k up, we all make mistakes so why are we going to stop being friends with someone because they f**ked up? Growing up I was bullied, abused and went through a lot of hard s**t that I wouldn’t wish upon my worst enemies. But did I let that change the person I was and make other people feel as terrible as they had made me? No mam, I always treated people how I wanted to be treated and that was with loving kindness and affection. I never once deliberately went out of my way to hurt peoples feelings or make them feel as small as they had made me. Even my stepmum E, who had emotionally and physically abused me, I never once said that I hated her, because I don’t. What she did to me was inexcusable, I was a young child placed in her care, who my father believed would be a second mum to me. Except of course it didn’t pan out that way and in all honesty, if she was being charged now, she would have been behind cell bars and not at home with her family. She got a second chance at life by being able to be the mother that she never was to me. Granted I don’t excuse what she did to me but all I know is her kids love her, my dad loves her and if she makes them happy then that is okay. I omitted certain details from the abuse that I encountered as a child because I knew what it was like to grow up without a mum and I didn’t want my siblings to be raised in a single parent family. I wanted them to be part of a secure family unit because it sure as hell isn’t their fault that I was the child that their mother didn’t want. They don’t even know I exist but if they ever came looking for me and question why I let their mum, the woman who abused me get a second chance I would simply reply this ‘everyone deserves a second chance, no matter what they have done’.
Hate is a strong word and I learnt to let go of the anger I had towards my bullies and my abusive step mum a long time ago. The power of forgiveness is healing; being able to forgive our oppressors does not necessarily mean that you have to ‘like’ or contact people that hurt you ever again but what it does allow is for you to move on with your life and never look back. I used to hold grudges and be really negative, so learning how to change that mindset was extremely difficult. I was battling depression and severe anxiety and struggled to see beyond the darkness that I seemed to be trapped in. I had to snap out of it and it was learning how to give people a second chance that helped me become a more positive person. I think one of the most important principles of the ‘second chance philosophy’ was realizing that giving people a second chance didn’t mean you had to exclusively interact with them, but rather change your attitude towards them and let go of any negative feelings that you have about them. The past is called the past for a reason and all those bullies who had made your middle years a living hell or the strangers who were rude to you that one time? Let go, because people change, people grow up and if you don’t want to be their friend anymore that’s fine, just let them get on with their lives and you get on with yours. The most damaging aspect of not giving people a second chance is the psychological pain that it causes you. I became depressed because I let my past define me and I became anxious because I became scared of ‘change’, but it was a change in attitude that allowed me to become a happier person.
I still have anxiety attacks and have moments of depression but no longer is this rooted in ‘the past’, instead it is rooted in the present. I no longer ignore the warning signs and pretend that I am okay, nor do I blame what happened years ago for any bad decisions I make or use the past as an excuse to ignore the present. By acknowledging my past and letting the people who had hurt me get on with their lives and not giving them a second thought, I became the woman I had always dreamed of being. I was able to control my emotions and acknowledge when I needed help, but the biggest life lesson that the notion of ‘second chances’ taught me was to be grateful for what I do have. I used to focus on the negatives i.e. being poor, making sacrifices to survive and all the wrongs that people in the past had dealt me but then my mindset changed. I learnt that we all are capable of wronging the people we love or even people we barely know, we might have hurt them and not even been aware of it- but look how many second chances we have been given? Now word of warning, this doesn’t mean that we should excuse ‘awful behavior’ or crimes but let them see themselves as a blank slate, who is worthy of a second chance. E, my stepmum was given a second chance when she was still allowed to be a mother to her children and even I , have been guilty of hurting people or doing ‘inexcusably bad things’ but I paid my penance and started a-fresh. I gave myself a second chance and became the woman who learnt to forgive, both others and herself. And who is that woman? The girl who cried forgiveness…
Have You Learnt To Give People A Second Chance?
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