Forgiveness

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Going to the well of forgiveness can be terrifying. It is so often found at the end of a dark, bramble covered path. What is it that scares us about taking those steps? The fear of being wrong? The fear that if we forgive, we are admitting that all the anger and pain we have been holding onto was time that we will never get back? The fear of declaring that it is okay to be taken advantage of? I have found that the more we drink from that well of forgiveness, the easier the path becomes, the purer the water. The brambles transform into rose bushes, still a threat of a thorn but the gift of beauty and scent in exchange.

While I am certainly no therapist, I ponder human emotion often. Within my own realm of emotion I am pretty steady. In some ways more like a man in my practicality, quick decision making, and lack of regret or guilt. It is usually only in my quietest and most solitary moments that I allow the pain of humility to set in. By humility, I mean that feeling of such deep gratitude for life that my chest hurts. Humility of knowing that I am able to walk with my own two feet on this beloved Mother Earth and breath in her essence. And of course while in prayer: whether it be from my heart bursting open within a deeper understanding of life, finally getting some kind of cosmic humor, or begging for forgiveness for the crueler aspects of the ignorance of mankind.

I quite enjoy emotional people. But I think my greatest task in life is to find patience with my own daughter. She is such a beautiful spirit, magical really. Besides the fact that it often looks like a nuclear clothes bomb went off in her room, I never have to ask her to do her homework, play outside, or be nice. She has that intrinsic love of being a good person. But then there is the sensitivity. While I have told her her tears are beautiful, that it is a sign of an evolved person to care about something so much that their love turns into tears; I have also put guilt trips on her when I didn’t feel something “bad” enough happened to warrant such a strong emotional response. It is not something I am proud about. And it is something I am working on allowing. Who am I to judge her or anyone else’s emotional response to anything? My aim now is to try and help her communicate what she is feeling without responding in a way that makes her feel wrong.

Of course, I am still going to say obnoxious things that are completely abstract to upper middle class children like there are starving children all around the world, so you better enjoy the food on your plate. Or you can never have a sleep over again in your entire life because you come back and act like someone has cut off your toes.

Baby steps.

At the same token, I want her to see me break down sometimes, to know that I don’t always have to hold the answers. I want her to know that I am sensitive as well but simply on a different level. With my son it is different. He is so well adjusted and easy going about almost everything. He cares. But he is not going to sweat it if he doesn’t have to.

Sometimes I think I just have that quality that my mother had, a knee jerk reaction of not being able to make our children happy or protect them. When we fell down and got hurt my mom would yell at us.

I invite my children into the sweat lodge but I don’t force them to join us. They more often than not opt out of spending their time in a hot, dark, crowded hut. But every so often they will pop their heads in. I want them to be around the men that I have been so lucky to call friends, brothers, uncles. Men that are also strong and industrious but can cry for everything good and everything bad in their lives. And of course, the amazing woman of my sisterhood.

To get to the well of forgiveness, we have to be willing to forgive ourselves. Which means looking at the responsibility of how our actions, words and deeds effect others, outcomes and our own environment.

I believe that if we stay bitter towards the people that hurt us, in some way, they “win” by stealing away our happiness. If we can forgive them, then we get to expand our potential to love.

Forgiveness does not mean that we have to hold onto relationships that do not serve us. I think that has been a hard lesson for me. But I see now that actually allowing certain relationships to dissolve into the happier memories is sometimes the kindest choice. I have always been hell bent on sticking with my friends through thick and thin. I had a self imposed judgement on myself that loosing a friend meant I was incapable of unconditional love. But I know that was a wrong way of thinking now.

I feel like my church, the sweat lodge, has been the most incredible aid for my own journey of forgiveness. But I have struggled on my path of truly being able of letting go and loving like this sweet baby we are currently dog sitting.

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I’d like to say if it is possible to tell the person you are sorry and you forgive them than I would encourage that. Of course there are such heinous acts that it would take lifetimes to forgive. I am not really speaking about the rapes, murders, and such crimes. While I still think forgiveness is important there, I don’t presume it would be easy, and maybe for some of us impossible.

I have done all of the below steps however to try and rid my brain of negative focus.

1. Allow myself to feel wronged. Be with that feeling for awhile.

2. Write the person a letter.  And then burn it.

3. Pamper myself and find ways of loving myself.

4. Envision an invisible cord from my heart to theirs and every time the thought of my anger or hurt arises, cut the cord with my fingers.

5. Say these words every single time I think of them:Hoʻoponopono

the Hoʻoponopono ritual basically means Thank You, I am Sorry, Please forgive me, I love you
6. Spend lots of time with people who make me feel good and that love me.
7. Get shit faced.  (this is a great one, just tred lightly and make sure it doesn’t become a habit)
8. Okay so I have to admit this one backfired and sent me into downward spiral but during a buddhist meditation we were encouraged to think of something nice the person had done for us. Something simple like saying hello to us or getting us a glass of water. And replacing all negative images with that one kind deed. Somehow this brought up my wrath.
9. I would say that 9 times out of ten the person that hurt you has been hurt or wronged in their past. If you can empathize with their suffering, some serious karma can be healed.
Finally, I think the most important thing to remember is that it is okay to fall off the path sometimes and stumble into forgotten woods. I have been so hard on myself thinking I had forgiven someone and then they do one insincere act and all of the bad memories come to the surface again. If this is the case, I think there is something in our selves that we are not looking at. This is a time where conflict actually is a gift because it allows us to grow. As soon as we can acknowledge that part of our hurt comes form recognizing our own dark sides, we then get to do the work to make ourselves light again. We can allow our egos to experience the pain of the little death of ourselves and how we thought others should’ve or shouldn’t have loved us.
It is incredible the amount of light that comes in when this happens. I have experienced it in the grace of an invisible goddess bending down and holding me in her hands. Because I have known this feeling, I can only encourage forgiveness, however one may find it.
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