Can we find forgiveness – a path through hard times? You have an event in your life that shakes you to the core. You or a loved one are challenged by a health crisis. You get fired from your job and the decision seems random or completely out of your control. You experience some other kind of injustice and are given no recompense or even a platform to state your grievance. You feel powerless, like your imagined safety net has been pulled out from underneath you, and you are helpless to do anything about it. On top of all of that, you are filled to the brim with feelings that leave you exceedingly uncomfortable in your skin. You want to find the valve to release the pressure, but you’re not sure where it is, or how to implement it when you find it. You want to escape, but does hitting the escape button really serve to heal, or hinder?
I understand. I lost a dear friend to cancer recently and abruptly. He was also a teacher and mentor to me and others. I felt his death as a blow to my whole being. I was so uncomfortable. My grief went beyond emotional into intense physical sensations, like tension and pressure, especially in my chest. I was angry at the way he died, that he died at what seemed like the height of his career, that my friend and mentor was gone, and that I couldn’t do anything about it. A part of me to find an escape route, and fast. A part of me wanted to just crawl in a hole somewhere, shutdown, and disappear… or find solace in some distraction… or worse, in a bottle or a pill, just to numb the feelings I was having…to block out the whole thing. The good part, the blessing of this, was that I recognized this quest to ignore my friend’s death and what it meant to me. I saw myself wanting to look away. I wanted to run. A part of me was screaming, “I can’t handle this!” I could have engaged in all manner of “what-ifs” and “why-did-this-happen” and driven myself right into serious illness myself with such negativity and insistence on holding on.
I had enough awareness of my old patterns of avoidance or escapism as a coping mechanism, that I could stop for a moment and watch myself. I knew I needed to turn into healing this negative spiral of feeling so victimized by events that I was powerless to change.
I would allow myself to grieve, but I was not going to permit myself to be gobbled up from the inside out by anger and resentment towards inevitable events. Though I felt the sting and consequent heaviness of grief, I would not sit in suffering. I knew that I needed to make peace: with Death, with the empty space in my life carved by my friend’s passing, even with my friend himself for succumbing to his humanness. I needed to make peace with The Ultimate Power, that Higher Power of my understanding. I needed to recognize where I was holding on, where I was resisting, and calm my inner child, who seemed bent on throwing a temper tantrum because of her unrealistic expectations. I needed to let go, more of an art than a science for me. Letting go is more of a process for me, a shift in perspective, rather than a sequence of discreetly measured steps to follow and then it’s complete. The human dimension complicates things. We go through life organically rather than linearly. Even though I was aware of my patterns, it required work on my part to break them.
What does it mean “to let go”?
The first step in letting go is presence. I needed presence to face my problems and allow myself to feel where they were expressing themselves as sensation in my body.
I strived to understand the meaning I was making of what happened. I couldn’t change what happened, but I could shift my perspective on what I was believing about this event.
I accepted my humanness. My anger and frustration were all part of my human experience. Everyone feels these emotions. There was no shame in this. Instead of feeling as if I was in a dueling match with these qualities, I turned into myself and accepted what I was feeling, and experienced it just as it was. I learned to know these intimately and accept them as an integral part of who I am. I deepened into self-compassion. Once I accepted that I had these feelings, I came to a place of peace with them. By surrendering to them as a part of who I am, rather than fighting with them as shameful or some other negative label, their power over me to cause suffering weakened considerably.
I became willing to forgive. The beginning of forgiveness is being willing to let go of whatever it was that I was grasping onto so tightly around my friend’s passing and all the subsequent shifts that were happening in my life as a result.
I asked for help from a Higher Authority. The word “forgive’ comes from the words ‘to forgo or forget’. I might be able to intellectually forgive someone, but if I do not remove the emotional charge around this event that I’m forgiving, I have not fully forgiven. I’m not saying I’m condoning what I am forgiving. I’m saying fully forgiving. I might say, “I forgive, but I’ll never forget.” By forgetting, I am always going to protect myself from being hurt like this again; hence I am unwilling to let this incident go altogether. This is not true and full forgiveness.
So, if I’m having difficulty truly forgiving, what do I do? Where do I turn? I turn to a power greater than myself to help me take this difficult step because I don’t want this event to stay stuck within me and clearly I have not found a way to let it go by myself. I ask, “Higher Power, all that You are, help me forgive all the events around this situation, no matter what. Help everyone involved in this situation to forgive me, and help us to forgive ourselves, completely and totally. Please and thank You.” Yeah, I still tear up when I say this. And with those tears, I get a release in my body. The emotional charge that is built up inside of my body, literally in my tissues, dissipates. By asking for help, my Higher Power grants me transcendence through this block of resentment towards what happened. I am graced with such a liberating release through asking for help from a Source greater than myself with humility and gratitude. True forgiveness lies in being able to release what is inside my physiology around this event. Otherwise I am not addressing the core of the problem and it will re-emerge.
I dropped my judgments about the situation. I had to move myself from a position of feeling so much negativity to one of neutrality and objectivity. Here again, I turned to a Higher Power of my understanding for help.
I let go of my fear of being alone in this world without my friend here on this plane of existence not and remember my connection to the All That Is and my Higher Power. I remembered that even in the next realm, my friend remains in the All That Is. Our connection remains eternally.
I let go of my fear of uncertainty, traveling in the world without the guidance of my mentor. I could hear him saying: “The most important teacher lives within you.” And, “remember the whole picture.” I needed to remember my own worth, my own power.
I turned to live in the present and welcome a future of possibility. I had to stop daydreaming about the past, and stop bringing it into my present. How else was I going to move forward?
I could hang onto the negative feelings that came up around this life shaking event. I could have looked outside of myself for a way to distract, avoid, or numb what I was experiencing, or I could do the work to presence myself to what I was feeling around it and embrace forgiveness. It is my choice. Such is the nature of free will. The work of fully acknowledging my human nature, opening to self-compassion and forgiveness was my path through a difficult time, and, with the help of my Higher Power, I was given the grace to thread my way through this without having to escape. I discovered the art of letting go is in realizing that I am ultimately inescapable to myself.
#UnleashYourHealingPower #LivingBeyondChronicPain #Forgiveness #ComplementaryHealing #ElizabethsBlog #ToolsForBetterLiving #kippinitreal