Image copyright: 123rf/Ron Zmiri
“If I forgive my ex, it’s like I’m letting him off the hook.”
How many us have felt this way, even though we know that forgiveness is in our own best interest?
In a culture where everything happens so quickly, there are those who assume that speedy forgiveness is a sign of maturity, inner strength and a reflection of our character….and that really bothers me!
This is not a race. How about allowing ourselves to be human, to rage and struggle, to be confused and scared, and to wander for as long as it takes to sort through our history? Now that takes true character.
I believe there is a difference between wanting to forgive and being ready to forgive. I also believe forgiveness come unbidden when we are committed to healing, which brings me back to the quote about forgiveness meaning we’ve let someone off the hook.
Imagine a woman sitting at the end of a dock with her fishing pole. The fishing line is in the water, and she may feel a fish squirming on the end of the line, though that may only be her imagination. It may have already swum away.
Forgiveness is not about taking a fish (or your ex) off the hook. But, when we are ready, it’s about setting down the pole and going to lunch.
Though there may be times we return to that dock and pick up that pole, we no longer need to hold onto it for very long, for we have felt the freedom that comes from setting it down.
Whether you love riding roller coasters or want to stay as far away from them as possible, the emotional roller coaster of divorce can take your breath away. You fly from grief to rage to confidence to depress to determination with such force that if makes your stomach flip. When I was divorcing there were days I could swing through this cycle three or four times before breakfast.
Please know you are not alone, you have not lost your mind, and sometimes like a roller coaster ride, all you can do is hang on. And when you do, interesting things start to happen.
- When you are forced to feel all these emotions, you can become honest with yourself, and honesty is vital. It may be the most important asset you have.
- The purpose of our emotions (as Harold Kushner writes) is to help us feel and participate fully in our lives. Our culture tends to make us feel there is something wrong with pain, and it must be drugged or denied or avoided at all costs. But many times the best medicine is a good cry.
- You can’t heal from emotions you don’t acknowledge. Suppressing your emotions can cause you to yell at the checkout person in the grocery store. Or if this pain isn’t acknowledged and is kept buried deep inside, you can get physically very ill.
- Emotions are powerful teachers. They force you to look back at your history and look down into your heart, and they demand that you pay attention. When you pay attention you will discover lost pieces of yourself. Some will be broken and some will have been hidden. Don’t throw them away. Embrace them. They are treasures and have been waiting patiently for you to reclaim them. These pieces of yourself may have been silent for years, but they have much to teach you. They will whisper, “You are a survivor. You are strong. You have value. You will no longer be diminished.”
Image copyright: 123rf/nicku
Coffee with a friend can be filled with unexpected conversations. Over my friend JK’s latte and my mint tea, she shared that she was very disappointed in herself.
JK had divorced many years ago. Her children were grown and lived out of state. She did not move in the same social circles as her ex, had not seen him in ages and was very busy enjoying the new life she created for herself. Her comment surprised me. Then she shared this story.
A few weeks earlier she and another friend were waiting to be seated at a restaurant when JK turned around and suddenly found herself face-to-face with her ex…and she froze.
She didn’t remember what she said or if she even said anything. She simply shut down. Her friend gently took her arm, guiding her as they followed the hostess to their table.
Once they were seated JK started to shake. “What just happened to me? The divorce was over ten years ago. I’ve worked so hard to heal. I don’t understand. Am I falling back down into that awful dark hole? I’m terrified of going through the pain it will take to climb back out again.”
“No, you haven’t fallen down any dark hole and no, you don’t have to climb back out of anything,” her friend said. “Your body was simply trying to protect you. It felt danger and went into a flight or freeze reaction. I’m glad it chose to freeze and not run out of the restaurant on this bitter cold afternoon!”
JK told me she laughed, took a few slow, deep breaths and her panic subsided.
Now, as she sipped her latte, JK said that she assumed once she healed, she would simply move on. But our bodies have long memories, and sometimes it takes more time than we realize to reassure ourselves we are safe.
We decided healing isn’t a package with a bow that you receive as a reward for the hard work you have done. We didn’t want to imagine healing as that smelly onion with all the layers that you keep peeling off while they make your eyes water.
We agreed that healing was an adventure, an exploration. Whether the new scenery we encountered was dark and frightening or shimmering with light, it would constantly challenge our perspectives and often take our breath away.
Lately I’ve been quite confused. It’s not the usual confusion of wondering why I walked into a room, or where I put my car keys when I’m holding them, or which direction to go when my GPS has recalculated one too many times.
What’s confusing is that I’ve not been myself lately. I’ve been feeling out of sorts. It’s like I’m not able to get traction in my life.
When I shared my feelings with a friend, she clapped her hands together and said, “Hooray! That’s wonderful!” I responded, “What? Why would you say that?”
“It’s simple!” she said. “You’ve been working hard to discard your limiting beliefs. Now you no longer fit the image you’ve had of yourself and that can be tremendously confusing. But as a result, you’re growing into something new and expanded. That’s wonderful—and truly a reason to celebrate.”
The more I thought about her words, the more comforted I became. Aren’t we all doing our best to learn and grow? Wouldn’t it make sense that the more we discover, the more we will reevaluate our beliefs and discard those that no longer serve us? Wouldn’t it make sense that our insights and understanding expand?
As we embrace more and more of who we truly are, our sense of self and of the possibilities life offers broadens and deepens. And as we begin to redefine ourselves in a more compassionate way, we clarify our purpose and how we choose to journey through life.
May we each continue to learn and grow, and when we experience times of confusion, let’s celebrate!
The following is a guest post by Michele Rae of The Center Within.
Energetic alliance with expanding energy is healing. It keeps our mind, body, emotions and subtle bodies in balance and harmony and opens us to the higher resonance and frequencies available in the interconnected web of all that is we call consciousness. There are a number of energetic healing techniques that can provide assistance in clearing dense or stuck energy and enhance or replenish life force energy. Some include Reiki, Therapeutic Touch, Frequencies of Brilliance, Acupuncture, Homeopathy, Chiropractic, massage, Shiatsu, breath work, Emotional Freedom Technique, reflexology, Traditional Chinese Medicine and ayurvedic medicine.
Often, transformational coaches use healing energy and guided imagery to ground, balance and relax our mind, body and heart by connecting with the supporting and nourishing energy of the Earth, our higher selves and spirit. These energies flow through us and the sacred container of space and time we create. This energy supports us as we explore, expose and unblock limiting beliefs, self-talk, patterns, fears, and constrictions. The same flow also cultivates insights, intuition, passion, wisdom, gifts, strengths and expansion.
You can utilize these techniques in your own practice of self-healing and reflection:
- Rest your attention on your breath.
- Relax your body from head to toe.
- Feel your heart, maybe by remembering someone you are grateful is in your life.
- Feel the energy of the Earth rise in your body through the base of your spine, your hands, and feet and out the top of your head. Imagine the top of your head opens to the energy of your higher self and spirit. Feel the energy descending through your body and into the Earth. I often see these energy paths as parallel strands, similar to the configuration of DNA in a helix.
- In this condition of flowing life force energy, bring a question you would like clarity on into your awareness. What does the solution feel like? What pictures arise? What words arise? Is there any fear or tightness around the issue? What expands the possibilities for a creative solution to reveal itself?
- In this energetic state of balance and harmony with all that is, feel your body-mind-heart. Are there any tight or painful areas? Are there places that are aching to expand, express or create? With your attention, direct this healing energy to soften, relax and open these spaces.
As your capacity and sensitivity to feel self-healing energies in and around you grows, notice the energy in your daily life. What depletes or nourishes you as you are making decisions, engaging in the relationship, finding work-life balance, managing stress and contributing to the world at home, at work, and in your community? Investing time, attention and awareness in decreasing constricting energy and increasing expanding energy in your life is a gift to yourself. You are worth it!