ForgiveI have a lot to be angry about. There are a lot of people that impacted my life in harmful ways, whose actions caused scars inside and out that I will live with for the rest of my life. I have experienced abandonment, grief, bullying, abuse, humiliation and rape. How could that be forgiven?

For the longest time, I could not forgive nor forget. Too many times the pain threatened to swallow me whole and as a child I tried to end my life to end the pain. I couldn’t even do that right. I failed. I carried that pain inside like a burning coal and learned to use it as fuel to drive me onwards, drive me forward, drive me far away from the places that hurt, the people that hurt me and the person I was. The distance I strove for never truly occurred because I always kept that burning ember held within my own damaged heart, and no matter how far I ran I could not outrun myself.

Slowly I changed. My explorations into various spiritual paths and eventually into Witchcraft showed me a new way. Instead of running, I had to heal. I had no idea how to start that process. It wasn’t until I looked deeply at myself, at my shadowside, at my inner child, at my own wounding, that I realised I had already started the process. Every step I took to find happiness and peace was a step on the journey of healing. Every step I took towards building relationships, trusting people, making friends, was a step on that journey of healing. Every step I took towards understanding the beauty and woundings of others was a step on that journey of healing. Every step I took towards helping another heal their pain, face their fears, find their centre, was a step on that journey of healing. If the hardest part of any journey was taking the first step, then I had to accept I had already succeeded. Now I needed to continue.

Holding on to angerForgiveness is a huge part of the journey of healing. For a very long time I resisted that concept, for the people who hurt me did not deserve forgiveness and the actions they took against my wellbeing could not be forgiven. Then Buddha spoke to me. Well, not literally, but I kept coming across a quote attributed to Buddha that reflected my situation:

“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else – you are the one who gets burned.”

Finally I started to understand that forgiveness was less about the other person, less about their actions, and more about my own health. I had to stop picking at my scars and accept them as a part of myself. All of those interactions in my life, harmful or beneficial, made me the woman I am today – and that woman is someone I can be proud of. Forgiving others was not a matter of them being worthy of my forgiveness, it was a matter of me being ready to forgive. It wasn’t about healing them, or healing our relationships, it was simply a matter of healing myself. It wasn’t about excusing their actions, it was about removing the ability of those actions to continue harming me. It wasn’t about forgetting the pain I had lived through, it was about choosing not to keep reliving that pain. I needed to let go of that burning coal.

Bit by bit, I let go of each burning coal. I felt no need to contact the people that had hurt me, no need to look them in the eye, and certainly no need to verbally forgive them. I only had to look in a mirror to see their impact in my life, I only had to widen my perspective to see their own wounding, and I only had to speak my forgiveness to the wind with no one but my Gods to hear me.

Forgiveness 2Since then I have faced some of the people that hurt me, and it has often been challenging. I stood in my kitchen and watched my birth mother cry and all I could tell her was that I did not feel capable of comforting her, that I did not want to comfort her in that moment. She made her choices and she had to learn to live with the consequences, as I had learned to live with them. I did continue to prepare a meal, and when she had finished grieving I fed her body and soul. I don’t know if she experienced forgiveness in my actions, I only know that my forgiveness allowed me to face that situation without scarring myself anew.

I have faced the astonishment and concern of friends and loved ones who have exclaimed “But how can you forgive that?” and I have shrugged and smiled and told them that I don’t condone or excuse the past actions, but that forgiveness is better for my wellbeing than anger. Because it is. Forgiveness is better for me.

Forgiveness is only one step on the healing journey, but it is an important one. I will never forget, I cannot forget, but when I am ready I will let go of each burning ember and forgive. I cannot forgive all at once, for me it is a gradual process of understanding, acceptance and release.  Slowly but surely I learn to heal myself. I stand whole, broken and stitched back together, scarred and sacred in my completeness, but I stand in my own power.

I am me. Powerful, scarred, sacred me.

.

The Science of Happiness

This post is part of the Pagan Blog Project 2014. 

Pagan Blog Project 2014

Pagan Blog Project 2014

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Comments
  1. Anonymous says:

    My own path to forgiveness remains ongoing. Each time I think my journey has ended, those who put me there in the first place re-route me once more. 2 steps forward, 1 back. It’s slow progress, but progress nonetheless.
    Thank you, I am glad to read that it *is* possible.

    Like

    • I honestly don’t think the journey ever ends, because the more we explore our own souls the more we find. I believe that like a book we can turn a page and end a chapter of our lives, but our story is ongoing. Sometimes the same characters resurface later in our story, but each time we grow from the encounter and our story becomes more complex and more complete. Progress can certainly be slow and painful, it often is for me, but as you say – it is progress. I stand by you as you strive for forgiveness – it is no easy journey, but it is a powerful one. Blessings, Romany. x

      Like

  2. Wytchfawn says:

    Forgive, but never forget.

    Like

    • To forget would be to forget who we are, but memory, like scars, will fade over time. Allowing that natural progression is a part of the healing process I think. It fades into the background of who we are as we paint a new future for ourselves.

      Thank you for sharing.

      Like

  3. katyking26 says:

    This really resonates with me as my current novel in progress is loosely autobiographical and includes themes of rape, abuse of power and obsession. I hadn’t realised how important the subject of forgiveness was until I was set a writing task in group therapy and asked to read aloud. The reactions were quite varied ranging from nods, murmurs of agreement and tears. I am guilty of holding on to those embers and I hadn’t appreciated just how much they burned me and cast a glow on my present, not just my past. I am learning to let go. I refuse to give head space, energy or power to the people who have hurt, abused or bullied me. I may bear the scars from my past but my future is my own and I will choose the paths I walk down without being weighed down with the burden of self-loathing, self-doubt and shame. I forgive not for the sake of others but because I am learning to love myself (or at least tolerate) and that means letting go and allowing the healing process.
    Your post has really inspired me and ignited my passion for writing my novel.
    Bright blessings

    Like

    • Hey Katy, I am so glad you found inspiration in my post, and thank you so much for sharing your story. I completely agree that the past makes us who we are today, but the future is who we are tomorrow – and that future is open to our own creation. I wish you well in your healing journey, and I hope that writing enables that healing (it certainly helped me).
      Blessings, Romany. x

      Like

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