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A couple months ago I had an unexpected visitor in my life when I was out with a group of women one evening. I was enjoying myself, having made new connections and sharing my story of how I came to write a book, which meant talking about my last long-term relationship. As I was getting ready to leave the restaurant, who should I spot out of the corner of my eye? My ex.

Yep. The same ex I had just been talking about was seated at a table near us, clearly on a date. Admittedly, I wanted to feel sorry for myself that he was on a date and I wasn’t. However, I quieted the pity party by reminding myself that I was enjoying my evening and there was no need to compare.

As I finished my goodbyes to the other women, I had no urge to walk by his table to make sure he got a glimpse of the new, confident, sexier me. I actually felt no ill-feelings towards him. I quietly made my exit not knowing whether or not he had noticed me.

Reality Check

Later when I arrived at home and was settled in, I took some time to check in with what I was feeling. I had felt a need to believe that I had to feel strange to see my ex with another woman because somehow it seems, that is how we’re typically conditioned to react. But when I became quiet and still, I realized it was actually nice to see that he was in a better place than he had been when our relationship ended. I had left a man who was badly broken with very low self-esteem. For me, to see him on a date symbolized that he too was doing better and that made me feel good.

The fact that I really had no strong negative feelings about seeing him with someone else was the ultimate test in my self-growth. Seeing my ex at the restaurant that night helped to solidify that I have detached from our relationship and am free from it defining me or my life, leaving the past behind and truly finding forgiveness.

Forgiveness = Freedom

I have learned that being able to truly forgive means freedom. The moment that your heart lets go—the moment you release your hold on the incidence that occurred—is the moment you free yourself to move on, to release the negative feelings surrounding it, and gain back your freedom. Forgiveness brings you into the present, which is the best place to be, in order to move forward towards the life you truly want.

So who are you ready to forgive? Start by seeing the other person as a human being with weaknesses (something we all have in common), in order to help move you to a place in which you are able to realize that their decision was not about you. They did the best they could at the time equipped with the tools they had (which may have included negative self-esteem, unresolved issues, etc.). We have all done this to some degree or another. The more you are able to humanize the other person and detach yourself from their story (which truly has nothing to do with you), the more you will move towards truly forgiving.