"We all need love, but we need it most when we deserve it least - when we have sinned against someone, when we have made poor choices, when we have failed. In these situations, ordinary love must become extra-ordinary love." - Barbara Rosberg
Sometimes, when we look back on the deepest cuts, the most salted wounds we have suffered we find our gaze turned away by the gnashing and gnawing teeth of Truth. Sometimes, it was our fault; in whole, or in part. Sometimes we are haunted by even the possibility that some or all of the pain inflicted on us was our own doing.
Sometimes we do not forgive others because we have not yet mustered the courage and understanding necessary to forgive ourselves.
"Not to forgive is to be imprisoned by the past, by old grievances that do not permit life to proceed with new business. Not to forgive is to yield oneself to another's control... to be locked into a sequence of act and response, of outrage and revenge, tit for tat, escalating always. The present is endlessly overwhelmed and devoured by the past. Forgiveness frees the forgiver. It extracts the forgiver from someone else's nightmare." - Lance Morrow
My last romantic relationship ended in what can only politely be referred to as a “catastrophic failure.” I spent so much time after it had ended filled with animosity and just … hurt. Not a dull ache. Not even the pain of needles on skin. I mean the kind of pain that steals one’s breath and brings one to tears for no apparent reason. I refer to the kind of sorrow that makes anyone around you at the time full of concern and a desire to see you safely to the nearest emergency room.
If any of you have ever been truly in love with another human being and lost them… you understand. And if you have not, no descriptors will ever truly capture the heights of peace and joy that love can bring, or the depths of misery and sorrow which might follow.
"A personal offense is like a scratch on a phonograph record. I couldn't move my thoughts beyond my pain. It kept repeating, as if I were stuck within its grooves. There was only one way to play beyond it. I had to forgive them, so my heart could take its form again." - Laurel Lee
I went through all of the stages of grief as I struggled to excise the anger and despair that permeated my thoughts, dreams, and memories. It took a very long time to remove my thoughts from my emotions. And, in the end, I realized that the single most difficult thing to accept was not the betrayals, the lies, or the broken promises. It was the knowledge that I knew months in advance where things were going, and did nothing to extricate myself from the situation when it would have benefited both parties.
Eventually, though, I was given news which was much more relevant to my existence than whether or not I was ever able to say things that hurt the other person the way that they had hurt me. I was placed in a circumstance so dire, that the loss of a romantic relationship – no matter how deeply meaningful – paled in comparison. I was faced with the sure and certain knowledge that I was dying, that my children would lose their only parent, and that the rest of my family would very likely become financially destitute trying to extend my life for as long as possible. Thank God my life had come to such a crumble!
"Our past is a story existing only in our minds. Look, analyze, understand, and forgive. Then, as quickly as possible, chuck it." Marianne Williamson
In the face of every single tragedy and horror I had ever dreaded in my life, I came to the realization that if I were going to fight for my life, I could no longer afford the luxury of holding on to any of the hurt in my past. I could no longer cling to the anger and hurt and resentment. I needed every ounce of strength and hope that I could muster to give myself a chance at life.
I started at the beginning. I worked my way through every single emotional wound one at a time. Every resentful, spiteful, toxic, festering wound inside of myself became a brick I laid to rest in order to lay the foundation of a future for myself and my family. There was no longer room in my life for those emotions.
In the beginning I didn’t have the energy to fight for my life and my ego. So, I fought for the one that benefited my children the most. I set my ego, my pride and my own wants aside. I accepted responsibility for my own contributions to my own destruction. I took stock of what I *could* have done differently to create a less painful outcome for myself, for my children, and for those who had cut me so deeply then. And I took ownership of these things.
"It's not an easy journey, to get to a place where you forgive people. But it is such a powerful place, because it frees you." - Tyler Perry
It was strangely cathartic, taking ownership. I mean, I spent so much time and energy being full of anger and malice. I filled so many moments with toxic thoughts and adding puss to my emotionally festering wounds… and all I ever needed to do to begin healing them was take stock of what my options had been, and responsibility for what not exercising the healthier possibilities had meant for my life and the lives of those around me.
In the end, carrying the weight of resentment, blame, and loss created within me far greater a wound than any willing enemy could ever have imparted to me. In truth, I was the facilitator of my own agonies, and I perpetuated them for years, rather than accepting that I had had alternatives.
"It takes a lot of emotional and psychological energy to keep a wound open, to keep a grudge alive. The longer I allow a wound to fester, the more bitterness, anger and self-pity poison my blood and eat at my heart." - Albert Haase
In my anger and ignorance, I gave those who had wounded me for a short time – no matter how grievously – the ability to wound me long after I had become for them a faded memory.
And in the end, I healed myself by taking responsibility for my past mistakes, and determining what I would do to prevent that suffering from occurring in my future. I have taken back my future, by truly forgiving myself for the sins that I committed – through omission or commission – in my past.
A dear friend has asked me on a few occasions for a road map to positivity – but, I think what they really want is peace of mind. For them, I hope that my journey is able to provide a few “rest stops” as they make their way back from the dark places that their heart has traveled for far too long.
The past is in the past. I could have done less harm. I could have done more good. I could have counted my blessings then. I could have paid my dues with a more joyful heart. I cannot go back and change anything, and looking at how far my heart and soul have come, I would not if I were given that opportunity.
In the present, I will choose to not do harm. I will choose to do more good. I will count my blessings often and in great detail regularly. I will pay my dues, grateful for the strength and tenacity that I have been blessed with, so that I might accomplish much more in the future than I have in my past. I will no longer live in the past. I will move into the future with a spirit of friendship, positivity, and courage. I will be grateful for the trials and tribulations that I have endured, and which have strengthened my body, my mind, my heart, and my spirit.
I will stop robbing from the future to pay for the sins of my past. I will live, laugh, love, and truly appreciate each day I have, secure in the knowledge that my life is better than I have ever dared to hope it would become.