The essence of forgiveness is that we liberate ourselves from reacting from feelings of being hurt or wounded.
Petra King (Quest For Life CEO)
When I was at the lowest point of my life, full of sadness, ill health (mental and physical) and confusion, blame was the easiest way for me to face things. In the throws of my emotional and mental anguish it was next to impossible for me to stop blaming, let alone forgive! I couldn’t function at that level, when my entire being was distraught, stressed, overloaded, and so exhausted it was having difficulty with the basic functions of living.
When I attended an holistic health retreat, one of the top four ‘words’ we would constantly focus on, was forgiveness. I hated it. But, with each time I considered giving it to others, and letting it go, I gathered a little energy, found a sliver of light, and regained control of my life. I began to consider forgiveness for those who abused me as a teenager, those who were unable to help me at my darkest hour, and stepped away from me – or more aptly looked after their own Wellbeing instead (I respect that now). I forgave doctors who (mis)diagnosed me as ‘depressed’, forgave every psychologist who I didn’t make progress with, forgave anyone who misunderstood me at the time. But most of all I began to forgive myself. Not only for my own misgivings, but for feeling hurt and blaming them in the first place.
I know – you’re thinking ‘bullshit, that sounds so cliché’… I am bullshitting. It was (ok, still is) f**king hard. It took me years and I’m still learning to forgive myself every day. I’m not a pro (yet) but it’s my experience with forgiveness in the last month, that has had the greatest impact on my Wellbeing so far.
So I want to share it with you.
Through all the work I have done on rebuilding myself, I realised I was craving freedom. Not freedom from a job, or a relationship or a rental agreement (I have dealt with them all in the last month)… The freedom, only forgiveness could give me. And what really got me was not how, but WHY I was needing to feel forgiveness. I was still stuck in the past, still holding on to this one thing.
So, I had three options (that’s a lie… I tried over 100)
Forgive the actual person – in real time. Impossible. They weren’t in communication mode and I would have been lying to their face – nope.
‘Forgive’ the person for their ‘involvement’ in my downfall, by telling someone I had forgiven them- starting to get somewhere.
Forgive myself for being involved in the situation, connecting with the person, having the reactions I had to the events, and forgive the process of falling apart that ensued – Almost nailed it.
It wasn’t until I read an article in Breathe Magazine (I adore this publication, please go and treat yourself to one) that I understood the process of this word. And as I am a visual learner, it served me perfectly.
I visualised this event as a little boat drifting into the distance.
I can still see the boat – the ‘tide’ (my ego) is carrying it very slowly,
But I can no longer touch, or sit inside it.
I can no longer smell the damp, earthy, stench of old silt.
No longer feel the hard, slatted seat.
No longer play with the broken oars that sent me spinning in circles for 7 years.
By going through all my forgiveness options, I realised there is nothing more difficult to attain yet more readily available to a person than forgiveness. We cannot look anywhere but within ourselves to cultivate it.
It feels surreal; the most intense, lengthy and volatile event of my life, with an aftermath that almost destroyed me and my health… is reduced to a little boat, drifting gently away from me. And the best part?
I am letting it.
I’m not crashing about swimming after it. The torture of that pain, hatred, blame and burning confusion has begun to let me go. Or rather, I have learned to liberate myself from the reactions from being hurt. Because they no longer feel familiar or necessary.
So I let them go! And one day, I know that boat will be a spot in the distance. Never forgotten, but at least accepted.