FORGIVENESS By Laura Luz – March 2011
I believe forgiveness is a most difficult topic to comprehend and I don’t profess to be an expert on it. Even so,I can distinguish that I have not yet reached a fullness of forgiveness when I hear myself telling a certain story repeatedly about a person or event, and I am still the victim within my rendition. This is a key element of incomplete forgiveness. Additionally, if I feel anger and angst about the prospect of seeing a person or finding them in my vicinity – that is an additional indicator that I have not yet neutralized my charged sentiments towards them. I do possess the understanding that experiencing charged emotions and intervals of friction with another is a normal occurrence. I also know that when conflict occurs, we often do an unconscious “cost/benefit analysis” about the other and the triggering event, sometimes resulting in the decision to let the other person drop from our lives for a time. I have heard and read stories where forgiveness is not accomplished within an entire lifetime. Even so, within my own experience, I give myself sufficient time to process, heal and then, where appropriate, I bring myself back to the relationship to rebuild it once again.
There have been many books and poems written about forgiveness – yet the concept is truly illusive. There seems to be levels of forgiveness. I can decide to forgive someone – and let the decision work through the layers of my being. First I say it… “I’m willing to try to forgive them”; and as I listen to my words come out of my mouth, I then encourage my mind to dialogue about the idea of forgiveness in regard to specifics. “What did I learn from this event that makes the lesson valuable? How shall we move forward with some grace and fluidity? Do we both have the willingness to rebuild our relationship once more?” Timing is of course a huge factor. If one person wants forgiveness, while the other is not ready, then the forgiveness process is stymied and at times painful.
When forgiveness finally moves from the head to the heart, it is like the release of the toxic puss within an oozing sore. True forgiveness empties the sore of all the noxious and venomous content so that the sore can be healed cleanly and completely. If it is not cleared out; if there still remains in the sore some infection, then when the healing scab develops it is inevitable that the suffering around this injury will remain chronic. Random memories and triggers will bring agitation and anger. Time must be honored in order to allow a full release. I realize that there have been stories where forgiveness can occur like a miracle – in the blink of an eye- but I haven’t experienced forgiving another in that manner. For me, there is less and less of the infection and pain each day, and then one day, I realize that I have stopped focusing on the event, stopped remembering – and the memory along with the pain has dissipated entirely.
There are times along the road to forgiveness where I experience great surges of forgiving feelings, and can feel great clumps toxic release. It comes through tears, the discharge of anger, lots of throat pain, and writing madly in my journal. For me, creating poetry is able to release much poison that is held within me. It is all a process that I have little control over in regard to timing. What I do have control over is my intention. I verbalize it often… “I intend to forgive him (or her)”.
Sometimes when I verbalize my intention, I say it begrudgingly but I know deep inside that I am only hurting myself when I refuse to forgive another. It is as sure as the mathematical equations that can predict a precise outcome in numbers. I know of the necessity to let-go of drama and emotional baggage quickly so that when the time comes, I can walk across the veil between life and death unencumbered – holding only the gems of my learning and leaving behind everything heavy that holds one back; all events or people that keep me attached to heavy emotions and negative energy. How can we move forward with ease and grace if we are chained to heavy baggage that contains stories full of people that we refused to forgive? All that sadness, anger and emotional chaos just because we need to “be right” or “should have won” or perhaps “were entitled to more”. I think that is why time is viewed as a natural healer – because time allows the distance and blurring of events and details. The best thing about time is that it permits something else to move into our focus which may seem random or unrelated, but may in-fact bring a new perspective to our personal situation.
For example; this week I lost my website! All the business content, articles, testimonials and pictures – two years of archives vanished. I was thoroughly stunned and clearly wanted to blame the marketing company who contracted with me to put a fresh new face-lift on my existing web-site. I felt feelings of anger and despair for a whole day. The following evening I went out with a friend to watch a live performance in downtown Victoria. The subject matter centered on women around the world and their diverse experience with how others (men, society, war, religion and justice) had treated them. I listened to true stories of loss and suffering that literally reverberated through my being and caused nausea to bubble up inside my solar plexus. Walking out into the cold night after the performance, I became ever grateful for the simple blessing of going home to my lovely warm bed – alone – with no oppressing force, anxiety or fear. I viewed the earlier loss of my website much differently. And as if to compound and drill this idea into me solidly, the next morning I witnessed on the news channel, videos of the recent tsunami in Japan. Now THAT is true devastation and loss. My vanishing website is a miniscule drop within their huge bucket of suffering. It is time to just forgive, let go and move on!
Forgiving oneself is as important as forgiving another. I find it difficult to forgive myself when I make a mistake. For some reason, I have this notion that I shouldn’t be making mistakes. Now that is the slipperiest thinking of “Ego” for sure. Being someone who counsels others, I am well aware that making mistakes is part of the package of being human. So where do I get off thinking that I shouldn’t be a human being who makes mistakes? And obsessing over my mistakes! Holding them close, continually having doubts about myself, playing the “what if” game, and using words like “should”. These actions are not productive; in fact they are equally as serious and injurious as not forgiving another. I would not think to withhold forgiveness from another – so why do I persist in not forgiving myself?
I’ve come to realize that this is a major part of my personal work during this lifetime. The idea is reinforced when I consider what a wonderful family that I have been blessed with. They are a family who sees ALL of my imperfections, and who choose to love me anyway. I don’t have one single family member who holds a grudge against me for long. They continually forgive me every time I make a mistake. They are true mentors within my personal work around forgiveness. If they can look at me and truly “get me” – see all the light within me as well as my shadows, and persist in truly loving me… Then surely I can also forgive and love myself.