THE POWER OF FORGIVENESS
Forgiveness comes in many different shapes and forms. The power that this simple act can have in our lives can be so healing and magical; and if we started to understand it as such, we’d be practicing this act on a daily basis.
For me holding resentment (especially for those I love most), had always been the way I held my power and self-preserved. In the many years of holding on to this dark emotion, I have come to learn that this multilayered feeling was a big part of the baggage I carried full of disappointment, shame, anger and fear.
Getting to understand how weak in fact resentment had made me was so hard to let sink in but yet so freeing.
I had always thought that not forgiving was a way to hold on to my power: holding something from a situation or someone that I possess and they can’t have (therefore holding power). The truth is that this mentality is so far from real. Not forgiving and holding onto resentment had done 2 detrimental things in my life: it had made me weak and it had quickly filled my being with negativity; it had depleted me from positive space where love could have resided the entire time. For me, this not only answered a major question, but also confirmed it. Was I holding on to my power or had I always been giving it out? When at the end of it all, the weakness crumbled me and depleted me from love (both to give and receive), I can comfortably (or uncomfortably) say that I was powerless. From this powerless state, it was also easy to self-loathe. It’s a sick and painful cycle and one not easy to recognize and to loop yourself out of.
The biggest resentment I held was towards both my father and mother. My father for having relationships outside of his marriage (and having multiple children as a result) and my mother for putting up with this toxic behavior. I resented them both for putting my brothers and I in the middle of this very ugly cycle which they spent years going around and around on. As a result, each of us had come away with a lot of fear, anger and of course, low self-worth. When growing up learning from this example as your goal to love, well...the idea of attaining the real kind becomes unachievable. With this feeling of not being ‘good enough’ to be loved, we set out to seek it the best way we know how. Frustrated and scarred, we seek for what we believe is unattainable.
The truth? As every single person reading this right now, I know (now) that I have always deserved more than what my conditioned thoughts had led me to believe. I deserve unconditional, magical, the best, the highest kind of love. I was so weak from carrying my mixed bag of negative emotions, that I truly didn’t know where to start. I honestly didn’t know where to find the space within to even love myself.
It has been a long process, but I started by slowly decluttering to make the space. I started to “Marie Kondo” my body, mind and soul; letting go of all the false beliefs that have never served me. I started by forgiving.
I know it’s easy to think that forgiveness is only something you give out, but boy! Have I been doing a lot of self-forgiveness as well. The thing is that I had these emotions so engrained in me that regressing to the beginning of when I first started to believe in these false thoughts was the only way to get to the root of the problem. I had to go back as far as I could remember when I believed the first lie and forgive myself for actually believing it.
I’m sure there’s many prior to this one, but one that sticks out and became a huge part of me was at the age of eight years old. While living abroad, I needed emergency open heart surgery. My cardiologist and the only person who was well versed with my condition and history practiced at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. Without hesitation, my mother booked us tickets the same day she found all of this out. I remember waking up two days later, hooked to all kinds of machines, including a tube in my mouth which restricted me from speaking. I was frightened, scared beyond explanation. I remember that the entire month I stayed at the hospital, I never saw my father. I of course never said this out loud, but the thought that my mind and body started to adapt to was that I was not good enough. At this freighting time in my life, why was he not there to comfort me, to show me he loved me, to protect me? Not having his presence there hurt; I felt as though I was not good enough to be loved. That feeling became part of my being, and my body held on to that thought for decades.
Coming from this space of hurt and anger, I wanted to understand why, so I started to see things from a different angle. I had to step back and strip away the labels of “father” and “mother” from these humans that raised me.
If I carried with me all of that shame, fear and unworthiness that kept growing with time, then what hidden feelings must these two beautiful humans carry with them? What examples and behaviors were they exposed to? I pictured them as children who had also adapted their own pain, now navigating the world the best way they know how, not knowing how to communicate their hurt. Through these clear new lenses, I started to love them, love them hard, love them deeply, love them unconditionally, love them because out of anything in this world, that’s what they’ve needed the most. For someone to believe in them and to see them beyond the pain.
I know I can’t change who they are, but I can certainly change how I see them, which has also helped how I see myself.
Through all the pain, and through any labels, they are worthy of being loved, to be forgiven, as I am.
Making the space by letting go of that which doesn’t serve me (resentment) and filling up that space with that which sets me free (love). Starting by self-love.
*Forgiveness, of course, does not mean that you will let anyone walk all over you. What this means to me is that you don’t let a situation affect your energy to love or change who you are. It means that you set boundaries, and stay in a space where you can still love and respect yourself. When someone causes you pain, shames you, mistreats you, this truly is a reflection of how much pain they carry with them. When my father didn’t show up to love me how I wanted, I now understand that he has never shown up to love himself. I now know to not take it personal, and to find it in me to see them through the lenses of compassion and love.*
My Beautiful Humans...