By Laura Luz
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. I recognize within my story that I am still the victim. 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 understand that experiencing charged emotions and 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, when 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 remains 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 am willing to forgive them” and as I listen to my words come out of my mouth, I then encourage my mind to dialogue about 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 suffering around this injury will remain chronic.
Random memories will trigger 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”. However, I haven’t experienced forgiving in such a manner. For me, there is less and less of the infection and pain each day. Then one day, I realize that I have stopped focusing on the event. I have stopped remembering – and the memory along with the pain dissipates entirely.
There are times along the road to forgiveness where I experience great surges of forgiving feelings, and can feel great clumps of toxic release. It comes through tears, the discharge of anger, intense throat pain, through reading and often through writing madly in my journal. For me, creating poetry allows me 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 tend to verbalize it often… “I intend to forgive him (or her)”.
Sometimes when I verbalize my intention, I notice how I say it begrudgingly. That is when I notice the part of me that has been deeply hurt. I can then spend time with her. I can soothe her and listen to her with patience and love.
Yet 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 so that when the time comes, I can walk across the veil between life and death unencumbered. I want to carry across only the gems of my learning. I want to leave behind everything heavy that holds one back.
How can we move forward with ease and grace if we are chained to heavy baggage which contain stories full of people that we refused to forgive? It is our human mind that needs to “be right” or has established that “were entitled to more”. Yet time can be 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 bring a fresh perspective to our personal situation.
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 our human-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 of”. 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 continually chose to love me anyway. 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.