Forgiveness, what is it really? I see it everywhere, talked about, posted on social media, daily affirmations, weekly, monthly dedications and so on. I am fascinated and I too have my experiences with the subject. In the end, or at minimum, sitting here telling a story, the language of forgiveness doesn’t really fit. This is not a claim of expertise, just a story, my story…
I wanted to forgive my husband, keep our marriage together and I hadn’t been successful in forgiving anyone to date. My healing took me to places where I found power in holding others accountable for their actions. A survivor has perpetrators, these are the “bad” people who do “bad” things, unforgivable things and even some forgivable things that hijack innocence in some form that creates the life of pain, struggle and uncertainty. That is what I knew to be true. Even after the understanding of owning, it was merely my part I owned and that left room for the idea that “they” had done something to me, taken something from me, and in that part, that holding of accountability, I was trapped. I realized it wasn’t forgiveness for others I needed. Every place I was holding others accountable, I was holding me hostage to my own unwillingness to face myself.
Was it forgiveness or something else?
- When I sat face to face with a man I had wronged and told him I was sorry. That I was the one in the relationship that sabotaged it, that I was the one who was uninvested, running, disengaged and breaking all the rules of commitment. That I was unfaithful, unwilling and incapable of receiving his love, his genuine, gentle, kind love. That I was wrong, wrong in behavior, wrong in lies, wrong in leaving, the way I left. Was it forgiveness when we sat there, barriers down, crying and talking for hours while I watched the relief change his face, his body, his willingness to sit with me?
- When I sat face to face with those who had wronged me and I openly admitted my role; my insanity, my inability to comprehend love, honor, and gratitude and my capacity for creating chaos, destruction and self sabotaging scenarios. Was it forgiveness that allowed the fleeing of perspective in all the places my power had been taken as I saw scared, hurting, and confused mirrored at me and understood, the power was not taken, just directed differently?
- When I sat face to face with each of my children, honoring them in their knowing while humbly owning the wrongness of my actions. All the times my actions came from a place of insecurity, confusion, anger and the cutting off of my own awareness. Was it forgiveness that allowed them to blossom and thrive in their own greatness and accept nothing less in their own self worth?
- When I sat face to face with all of my “parents” after many years of disconnect and healing to see the kind, gentle, contribution they each want to be to me. Was it forgiveness that ceased the pain and reflected the inner turmoil that equally taunted my own inability to rationalize when polluted with unfitting parameters around good and bad?
- When I sat face to face with the man I loved and was leaving anyway. Where the gift was self reflection that exposed all the places I have the capacity to invest in another, in self and in choosing for everyone involved beyond me. Was it forgiveness that granted time, time to heal, to dissolve and transform, then to enter a new dance, with some of the old moves, stepping on toes and spinning back around in perfect union?
- When I sit face to face with myself, moment by moment, in awe of this life. Was it forgiveness that granted this freedom, this love, this knowing of who I am and the possibilities before me?
Or was it something else? Traveling the road to forgiveness didn’t show up the way I had expected, it didn’t bring me to anything remotely about forgiving another or even myself. This journey brought me home, to me, in an understanding of all the aspects of who I be, and understanding that nothing outside of me is ever about me. To trust myself, and to honor that I know what I know, and even when I choose from a different place and I am faced with situations that seemingly present something ugly, I can take a breath, and choose something else.
What if the actions are not about “hurting” another, what if they are the reflection of the “hurt” within us?
Does forgiveness still have a role?