“The best way to destroy your enemies,” the saying goes, “is to make them your friends.” Hoping to send some good wishes their way, I wondered this morning: “Who’s the person who hurt me the most?” Was it the childhood bully who, because he was jealous of my good grades, had to get verbal stabs in non-stop? Was it one of the many girls who rejected me?
The first thing I realized was that even the most painful emotional punches made me cringe a lot less in retrospect than the memories of me hurting others. Be it some mentor I offended, a breakup I had to initiate, or the times I let my family down — my own failures make me shudder far more than whatever suffering the world doled out to me.
This led to my next and ultimate, I guess perfectly logical conclusion: The person who hurt me the most is, by far, me. My so-called enemies sure deserve all the forgiveness I can muster, but so do I, and, given how long my laundry list of regrets, perhaps I need it more than they do.
For every time someone was mean to me, there were 100 times I was mean to myself. For every time someone was unwilling to accept my apology, there were 100 times I beat myself up over some shortcoming. And for every time someone struck an emotional blow that left a lasting mark, there were 100 times I twisted the knife in my own wound.
Make no mistake: We all have skeletons in our closets, and the one we’ve buried deepest carries the very alive face we look at every morning in the mirror. Forgive your enemies, sure. Pray for them. Send good wishes into the universe for everyone whose path you’ve ever crossed. But before you do any of that, remember to show yourself compassion. Forgive your past selves, and make them your friends.
If it’s true that we most yearn for forgiveness from the people we hurt the most, in the long run, there is only one person in the world who can give us what we need. Luckily, they’re with us wherever we go and oh so willing to move on, if only we ask them to. “You are your own worst enemy,” another saying goes, but you could just as well be your own best friend — and the only thing it takes to turn one into the other is a smile every morning for the fan in the mirror.