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This site is for student nurses or nurses starting out. Letters to a Young Nurse are blog posts written like letters to help you find your way and make your journey as a nurse less difficult. 


Forgiveness & Walking Away

Updated: Oct 23, 2023

Recently someone who I worked with, who I thought was a dear friend, hurt me deeply. She believed that her vision of how the company should be run was the only way. She accused me of creating toxicity. When I was able to see the situation without judgement, I finally realized that her chaos did not have to be mine. If she wanted to use people and then throw them away when they didn’t meet her “vision” then it was time to move on to a better place away from the all-consuming narcissism of her ego.

The key to getting through to the calm in the middle of the storm is to remember why we are there in the first place. Walk away, take deep breaths and learn how to forgive. Nothing lasts forever and all we are guaranteed is this day, this minute, this second, right now. Rilke wrote a beautiful and haunting poem about darkness. My favorite line in it is "what batters you becomes your strength."

The people, places, situations, events, that batter us will make us stronger. I take comfort in the knowledge that no good deed goes unpunished. Karma is a hard teacher. Forgiveness does not mean we are a door mat for others to walk all over us. There is a line between feeling hurt and seeking revenge. We forgive, try to forget and move on. And hopefully we learn the lesson, so we don't have to repeat it in the future.

A beautiful essay on the topic of forgiving was written by Fabien Wrecker about an encounter had with a patient after years of abuse. The patient was angry, and he was labeled as having oppositional defiant disorder as a teenager. Years later, through a chance meeting on a train, the author was reunited with the patient who expressed deep appreciation for the note that the nurse gave him as he left a recovery center. This patient, years later, expressed appreciation and hoped the nurse was proud of who he was and who he was becoming. The worst type of crime inflicted against young people has to be incest and molestation. How do we as medical professionals reach through the hurt and shame and grief and connect with patients who are deeply traumatized? Wecker says, "grief accumulates over time, impossible to outgrow, a twisted pattern with no end in sight changing who we become: numb, essentially, with only the yearning to survive." The young man was doing well after several suicide attempts. The patient did not allow the events and experiences of his past to define him. He teaches us all "...the true meaning of forgiveness: the release of all hope for a better past—an essential passage to becoming who I am". If a child of 15 can find his way through the emotional landmines of childhood betrayal then who are we not to forgive?

Wecker F. (2023). Becoming Who We Are: Releasing Hope for a Better Past. The American journal of nursing, 123(7), 64.

One of the most beautiful stories I read about forgiveness is called The Happening. In October of 2006, Charlie Roberts, a 32-year-old male, walked into an Amish one room schoolhouse with a gun. He ordered the teacher and the boys to leave and then opened fire on the 10 girls who ranged in ages from 7-13. Five girls died and five girls were injured. Charlie was not Amish and had no reason to be there. After he unloaded his rounds, he turned the gun on himself and died.

His mother, Terri Roberts, who lived nearby thought she and her family would have to move away. But the night of the shooting members of the Amish community and the parents of the girls went to Terri's home and asked for her and her husband to stay. At Charlie's funeral the Amish greeted his parents with open arms and gave money to defray the cost of the funeral. Since that day Terri has volunteered her time to sit with one of the badly injured girls. She said that she doesn't know why her son did what he did and it goes beyond what she ever could have comprehended about her life. She believes that God can turn around a heinous act and use her for good. Terri learned from the Amish that forgiveness is a decision that we make. It is not a feeling, it is not an emotion. It is an action. It is not easy but her freedom came from the forgiveness of the Amish community. The Amish community practices forgiveness daily and many have said since "The Happening" that forgiveness is giving up our right for revenge (Walters, 2016).

Forgiveness is never easy but it is the right thing to do. My incident with my coworker pales in comparison compared to what Terri and the Amish endured. Every day we have a chance for a new beginning and let go of hurt and resentment.

What do you need to let go of and forgive? Let me know, I would love to hear from you.

Walters, J. (2016, October 2). “The happening”: 10 years after the Amish shooting. The Guardian.

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