Forgiveness is a big word during the holiday season
As it is every year…and one word we hear a LOT. People are thinking about the new year coming and the past years as they reflect. The holiday’s seem to be a time to turn inward and see everything with a new lens. This is what motivates us to set new goals and new intentions for the new year, which is why forgiveness heavily comes into play.
Today I am thinking about this word and just how I got myself to finally forgive. Yes – it will be in the book but in light of the holiday season, let me give you a preview. What is forgiveness? Well, by definition according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, to forgive means “to stop feeling anger toward (someone who has done something wrong): to stop blaming (someone) or to stop feeling anger about (something): to forgive someone for (something wrong).” Reading this definition is quite simple when trying to understand what it means to forgive.
Is forgiveness really that simple? No. And is it always about someone or something else? Not entirely – it actually needs to start with yourself.
As someone who has been handed some of life’s toughest challenges, I have often thought in the past about the term forgiveness. However, it never really went further than a surface thought. It just brought too many strong emotions that would come bursting into my heart and I always shut the word back out. To make my journey even harder – it was a word that was thrown at me quite often by well intention-ed friends, family and even my therapists over the years.
Back Track to My Teen Years…
I remember one night, after my mother found out about the violent rape that I endured only three months’ prior to my finally admitting the truth to her – what happened next involved her chasing me around the house, as I was screaming and throwing anything I could get my hands on. With glass shattering everywhere and my mom tirelessly begging me to calm down and talk to her some more. I couldn’t. I was ANGRY! An anger that still gives me chills thinking about.
My mother is a Minister and I was always raised to follow God’s love. I attended Church growing up and remember the Sunday school lessons at home my mom would do with us after church, to retell the stories that we learned. I heard all those lessons repeating through my mind, as I ran through the house with red fire in my eyes that night. I heard the word forgiveness seep into my thoughts and that was what finally silenced me for good – and where I stayed for thirteen years.
I let the word soak in – but I denied its truth. The truth is though, I was already in that place of darkness and denial. Even before I exploded to my mother.
I stopped growing after that night of violence in the summer of 2000. I stopped exceeding to a higher place of self-acceptance and love. I stopped loving myself, when the rapist decided to take my innocence as a young teenager and to try and filter the pain as best I could – I shut down. My heart and emotions became frozen. And forgive? No way. That was off my radar.
“Just Be, tells the full story of the thoughts, the emotions and the dark and deep waters of PTSD, grief and pain I struggled to swim through for all those years.” – Lindsay Maire
If my life was like a movie after that night, it felt like I was always dreaming…but the dream wasn’t pleasant. It was a total nightmare. I seemed to always make the wrong choices and life was often confusing. My confidence was zero and I pushed most people away. I was constantly on the defense (despite the wonderful friends and family that surrounded me). Most of all, I stayed in victim mode for a long time. Not a way to live life. I seemed to have allowed the darkness to completely take over in my soul.
Little did I know, that I was about to be shaken and shaken rather hard back onto the path of freedom, joy and FORGIVENESS – but in a way that completely took me by surprise and knocked me off my feet.
Joseph. I lost my Joseph and everything inside exploded. First, more anger developed. In fact, it was off the chart and so was my judgment of myself. I felt such guilt. I blamed my body for being unable to carry him successfully to term. I thought, how could I possibly forgive myself now?
Hatred soaked into every part of me for one final fight. I hated life. I hated the people who cared most for me. I hated God – and I absolutely hated myself.
Rape is a violent act in which the victim is terrorized and forced to surrender their body to the perpetrator and the after effects destroys the victim’s mind, body and soul. Losing a baby or not being able to conceive for a woman, who holds the womb in which the baby is supposed to grow, can tear her down with complete shame.. With both of those traumas now a part of my life – I saw no way out at first.
A woman’s womb is the window to the world, the veil between heaven and earth and it is our job to see that this is done under the best possible circumstances. Therefore, when things go wrong, how can we not cast judgments on ourselves? How can we not have anger and sorrow? For me, I already felt like I was useless due to the victim mentality that I was unknowingly still in.
The anger we feel toward ourselves is so severe that being able to forgive is unbearable. We feel as though we are not allowed to, for if we dared to forgive the judgments we cast upon ourselves then we are somehow betraying others perhaps – because a lot of trauma survivors subconsciously feel that we deserve that pain. If we forgive those who harm us and others, then we must take responsibility for our own soul’s transformation. Something that is a huge mountain for trauma survivors to climb.
The top of that mountain is so beautiful – showing us a while new world once we just let go. Letting go of the judgments cast upon ourselves, empowers us to receive love again – love that never leaves our side. And for me, this meant forgiving myself for letting myself continue to be a victim of rape as well. By finally forgiving him, I was forgiving myself and taking responsibility for my healing. I know now that without forgiving myself healing is impossible.
Yes, someone took advantage of me and yes, I did not take care of myself well after that but it is not the reason Joseph died. My eleven-year-old daughter reminds me of that every day. I birthed her, healthy and strong in the middle of the highest turmoil and aftermath of the rape. Yet, somehow over the years I have meshed together all of my hardships and judgments into one.
And it was time to stop. Time to forgive.
How do we do this?
There is not a magic wand that one can wave over you to erase the past. Forgiveness takes work…a lot of work. Soul growth is the hardest part when balancing mind, body and spirit. But it starts with this step: acknowledge the judgments you have made on yourself from your past.
Then asking yourself some questions: What are the judgments you have made? What have you learned from those challenging times? What part of that do you judge yourself for? How do you see your experience as part of your purpose?
So begin by telling yourself what your judgments are and perhaps saying them aloud, journal them in a notebook or simply think about them. Do whatever works for you.
…and believe me, I know how hard this is to do but I knew it was the only way I could move back into the light. Know this: the light will find you! It always will. The soul seeks for you to be awake and it starts with forgiveness.
And while prayer, yoga and exercise, meditation or any form of self-care keeps you grounded and stronger to push through hard times; margaritas and laughter with the girls can be a good option too! Because let’s be honest my dear sisters – doing our “woman thing” is hard enough and for my mamas reading – motherhood is like a constant unravel (but all in a good way!) and when you add in trauma (for women AND men) – is surely makes life feel like a nonstop roller coaster of spinning struggle. A roller coaster that you DO have the power to get off from!
Stay connected to your tribe my beautiful sisters out there because while fear is powerful, LOVE IS MORE POWERFUL! And together we can remind each other of that.
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