Forgiveness is a idea that everyone must grapple with at some point in their life. Some more than others. And some lucky few, possibly very little. Whether it’s forgiveness for one’s self or forgiveness to another, it represents the same emotional path. Both can be tremendously difficult depending on the circumstance. For some reason forgiveness, and a certain amount of pain, typically go hand in hand.
I have dealt with the struggle of forgiveness in my life since I was a teenager. Not in a variety of ways or occurrences, but for one main occurrence, albeit overtime. I’ve gone through many stages of dealing with it from ‘fuck that, not happening’ to ‘ok, I’m over it’…all to find somewhere down the line I really wasn’t forgiving anything.
It wasn’t until I had a ‘light bulb moment’, which then moved into what Oprah called an ‘Ah Ha moment’ and associated something tremendously positive in my life back to this pain, that I truly think I was ‘over it’ and had legitimately forgiven it, so to speak.
Back in my mid teens I was introduced into a relationship, by no choice of my own, that was not ideal for me. My mother had formulated a relationship with an alcoholic who was terribly verbally abusive to me and to most people around him. I would learn, as the years went by, that he was also a master manipulator because sober, he was a very pleasant man and would do just about anything in the world for me, but drunk, well, not so much. That kind of confusion and mistrust can really mess you up when you’re at the young age of just learning the ins and outs of relationships and what healthy one’s should look like.
The finer details are unimportant, but a high level of emotional turmoil went on for years, profoundly altering the person I was. In the end, fast forward, his death meant very little to me. And for me, that’s terrible. I’m a kind human being who really doesn’t judge people to that extreme, and yet, in the spirit of being honest, it didn’t impact me in any way. I felt almost a sense of irony, a very unhealthy sense of ‘it’s about time’. If there has ever been mass judgment in my being towards another human, this was it, in SPADES, for sure.
My struggle’s as a result of it became very clear over the years to those closest to me. I’m sure there were also some hidden messed-up constructs and belief systems in there that were not so clear…I guess what one might call baggage. I struggled throughout my 20’s and into my early 30’s with anger towards a lot of things, but the most being drunkenness, not being listened to, and harsh judgement. Drunkenness being the top of the pile!
Funnily enough, not my own (of course), but others. (probably worthy of writing about somewhere down the road)
But I wasn’t ‘that girl’ who went on diatribes whenever someone got drunk. It was only when other’s appeared to become aggressive I would have an emotional and physical reaction to it. I managed to justify my own when I had had a little too much wine, in that, never in my life have I gotten aggressive through alcohol. But this kind of made my internal narrative even worse. ‘Why must people drink if they turn into assholes?’ was my feeling. ‘If I don’t, why can’t others be the same?’ An unrealistic expectation and a strict focus in all the wrong places.
I never really lashed out at people in this scenario (another thing I really don’t do and I believe it’s because confrontation has never served me well in the past. Maybe another bonus at heart). I would simply remove myself or just quietly try my best to ignore it. But again, it would physically affect me through things like adrenaline surges and heart rate blow outs.
Once I had my children, many things in life started to change. And my children were very young when he passed away…so the abuse was over.
But, the pain of it all certainly wasn’t.
The idea of ‘He who shall not be named’ came about one day when speaking with my kids’ dad. I simply was unwilling to bring any thought, memory or anything of him into my children’s world. The tag line just came out of my mouth one day and then kind of stayed there. I would never speak his name around my children out of some form of protection, for me, and them. I started using the phrase even around others if a topic was such that I needed to use it. I built an entire wall around the whole deal. And not just a wall…a fortress. And I held that baby tight! LOCKED DOWN, DEFCON 1 type of lock down. Forgiveness was NOT an option.
Prime example of my level of lock-down, fast forward to just this past year (once I had experienced forgiveness) I asked my daughter (at 14 years of age) ‘have I ever mentioned Ned to you?’ She had no clue! Never heard the name and had no frame of reference as to who this person might be. My point being, I held it HARD…and held it long!!
But I digress. It wasn’t until I met my current partner and started making connections between forgiveness, self, healing, and happiness that my world started to change. I could never quite get there before and it was simply because I was looking at this all wrong.
The saying is true…’when the student is ready, the teacher will come’. I guess I was ready.
But why now?
A little more back story. Starting around the time I was 16, my mom and Ned (sober) would talk about spiritual ideas and ways of being. I can vividly recall not giving 2 shits about it then (because I really didn’t give two shits about anything that came out of Ned’s mouth) but sometimes conversations, if more lead by my mother, would intrigue me enough to sit tight and listen, and possibly engage. Not often, though. But somehow, as I can see now, this information sank into my subconsciousness without me even knowing it. My mother was always very soft and we talked a lot about life and spirituality prior to the Ned years…and I was always interested in learning ‘what’s this life all about’. So the stage had already been set in my mind for acceptance of this type of teaching.
But once Ned came along and I was then living under excruciating stress most days at the hands of verbal and emotional abuse, there was not one part of me that was open to hearing ANYTHING that came out of his mouth. I didn’t even want to hear my mother speak of it because this was her common bond with Ned…Spirituality and Higher Consciousness. She brought this into my life…AND she brought this man into my life. I internalized both together…and refused both in my own life. I associated these concepts with Ned and Ned with these concepts. I would have NONE of it…on a conscious level.
That said, there had to be times that my mind was willing to listen. I believe now that those sort of sub-conscious ‘listening moments’ would be the moments where life (for 24, maybe 28 hours) would be ok. And by ok I mean sober. And, as everyone in my family did, in those moments, we didn’t rock the boat. We would interact and participate in ‘life’, and sometimes even feel temporary happiness in the situation. I was present but more in a protective way because one can only take so much stress. But, presence, in any capacity, means growth and learning.
So it was likely in those moments that I was actually listening …and maybe even wanting to learn more. But then, just like that, like every other day, it was over. The bubble burst and I was back to being called a piece of shit 100 times a day. So any good that I had just learned most likely got shuffled waaaaaay back into the hollow depths of my unforgiving mind.
And things got worse and worse from 16 to later in my 20’s. So that deep down repository of spiritual learning was so far gone, had you asked me about it I wouldn’t even have recalled it ever being there to begin with.
Like 15 years ago, still in anti-forgiveness mode, I would have never been able to recall any of these teachings from my younger days. They meant nothing. If anything I would have rolled my eyes at the thought of spiritual learning. It was gobbledeegoop! I was very blocked, very closed, and very stuck.
But, like many things in life, sometimes life can change on a dime. Instantly and profoundly. Once I started searching for my own enlightened path and met my partner, funny things started to happen…quickly! Things began to resurface. Memories of conversations and concepts learned nearly 30 years previous kept popping out of nowhere. But in the most positive ways. I would find myself saying ‘oh I remember Ned talking about that one day.’
Wait!! WHO??? I hadn’t said this name in years. I had it down to a science. Am I letting my guard down? Where is my anger? Where is all of my resentment? I felt like somehow it wasn’t there.
It wasn’t until this started happening almost daily that I really was able to sit with my thoughts and think ‘wow, is it possible that something ‘good’ came out of that time in my life.’
I was amazed at how I felt towards conversations in the realm of spirituality. I was excited and completely intrigued that this new person in my life knew these concepts and ideas…and so did I! I believe that somewhere deep inside I always had an affinity towards these teachings but the massive anger and resentment I felt was holding me back.
It became obvious very quickly that my connection (albeit still rather ‘inner’) to my spiritual side was what started creating an instant bond between my partner and I. And most definitely one that neither of us really expected it. Especially me!! Because not only do I think I was blocked to anything related to Ned and spiritual learning previously, I had lived in anger, self doubt, and a whole other gamut of limiting beliefs for a very long time.
Having just recently months before gotten out of my 20 year marriage, I wasn’t really ready in life for too many big steps. My current partner had asked me out several times…always to the answer of no. Finally one day, after exchanging an email about entanglement and enlightenment (which must have tweaked something for inside) I agreed. ‘What harm could come out of coffee or a beer’. That’s what I told myself. But meanwhile (negative talk) thinking full well we are never going to have any kind of connection.
Much to my surprise the real him (not the persona I knew, as I had known him for almost a year previously) came out almost instantly.
We started the normal ‘omg we talked for hours’ kind of thing immediately…but it was somehow VERY different in how it felt in my soul. He would ask me questions like ‘how do you feel about…’ or ‘have you ever heard of …’, ‘do you want to watch this video with me on…’. And very quickly all of these previous concepts, names, and ideas started coming to the forefront of my mind. I would say ‘oh ya, I know him. I learned about him when I was 18.’ or ‘Really? How do you know about that? My mom used to talk about that’. You can’t imagine his shock in hearing this. And you can’t imagine MY shock in saying it!!
Needless to say our bond became strong rather instantly. But had I still been in a total place of lock-down on my previous experiences in life I don’t think that part of us would have appeared. Made the connection we did. It’s true what they say about connection. There’s physical connection and then there’s connecting with someone on a much deeper level. And through the grace of god, and my sub conscious mind attempting to let go a little, we had both!
So what does this have to do with forgiveness? Well, in my case everything. Almost instantaneously I had a massive mind switch, and fast! A mind switch from a place of ‘he who shall not be named’ to ‘wow, somewhere in the horror, Ned brought a bounty of knowledge to my world’. Knowledge that would not only allow the opportunity for the most incredible relationship I’ve ever had with another human being, but also be the stepping stone to my life’s path going forward. I came to realize the gift that was given to me. I found the positive, the gratitude, in the shit pile.
I immediately starting looking through the lens of ‘what was going to suit me better…living in anger, non forgiveness, hatred, and very limited beliefs in certain things…or changing my own narrative from a victim mentality to a winner?’ The answer is obvious!
I love my life!
By no means am I looking at my past and thinking Ned was a hero, kind of thing. I still occasionally feel anger towards all the years I ‘lost’ because I was so frozen in my anger. But where I see things in a whole new light is that I have to forgive my past and embrace how certain elements of it have been pivotal in developing my present…and very likely my future.
No one can say for sure but I don’t think my partner and I would have the life we do and the relationship we have if it weren’t for the presence of this person in my past. Or maybe we would, depending on how one feels about divine intervention and ‘things happen for a reason’, who knows! …but that’s another post.
But I do know that all it took was one person to walk into my life and simply start showing me who he was, for me to dive into who I was…REALLY was. The thoughts, narratives, mind chatter, and years of anger just all started to release over a common, very unusual, bond.
We can never truly know where ‘dark times’ might take use. But what I feel I have learned, and am still learning, is that shitty situations will probably always be there in life. But they really don’t have to ‘be’ if we can transcend the negative, the anger, or the hatred of them. If we can be present and above the negativity, in a space of gratitude and forgiveness for ‘what lessons can be learned from this?’, ‘What strength is this cultivating within me?’ then I think we can live happier lives. And maybe not spend the better part of 25 years stuck in something that wasn’t mine to be stuck in. I was stuck in his misery when I should have been embracing the strength, emotional awareness, and emotional competence that it was bringing, and brought, to my life.
Resentment only hurts us. A lack of forgiveness only hurts us. Especially if the person involved is a) no longer walking the face of this planet, b) could care less, or c) may have no clue that they even had a negative impact on you.
Resentment and lack of forgiveness keeps us STUCK! They both need to be released in order to move forward.
I’m so happy to be unstuck. It has opened my world, my mind, my body, and my soul to things in life I was never able to consider.
4 thoughts on “Un-sticking Myself: How Forgiveness Changed My Life”
Great post!!!!!!! I’ve been on the same path also as of late!
Thank you!! It’s a great path to be on!
You can check out my path if you’d like…… read mine on sobriety also!
What a great step you’re taking in the right direction. If sobriety means a better life for you and those around you, it’s worth every struggle and effort. All my best wishes and support to you on your journey!