If you’ve ever hurt deeply, the capacity for that pain to linger far beyond the event which caused it practically escapes logic. Our hearts get stuck, whether consciously or not, at that moment in time. Unless we sit down to examine. To understand. To release. And ultimately, to forgive.
One of the more alchemical chapters of my life occurred while living on a far away island. In this wildly different environment separated from who and what I knew, I gave myself the opportunity to re-decide: who to be, how to show up, and most importantly what to carry forward. I had some help. If you’ve been reading this newsletter since that time six years ago in Bali, you know a whole lot about healer Jim. That’s because in this lifetime we have people that point us forward (if we’re lucky and listening, we’ll have many) and he appeared front and center at the open road of my great unknown, looking anything but priestly.
Turns out spiritual guidance can come in many forms, including one with a bald head, facial stubble resembling light gravel lining his neon smile, surf shorts and an old billabong shirt as blue as his eyes. Jimmy, as I’d take to calling him, asked me about where love hadn’t gone to plan. Five years ago my heartaches felt like they were stacked high and against me. I began detailing the ruptures of my heart. But that was far less important than the answer to his next question – Who do you need to forgive? – which has opened my eyes more times than once.
The answer required no thought: me. I need to forgive myself, I said.
I can see now that the year that followed was a journey through that forgiveness. I thought at the time that I was traveling one of self love: what it looked like and how to do it. It was AND it was more. It was a journey of forgiveness. Because forgiveness is just that, a return to love.
And sometimes, the person that most needs our forgiveness is the same person that we see everyday in the mirror. You need to forgive you, and I need to forgive me.
Forgive yourself for the information you couldn’t have had yet.
Forgive yourself for loving someone at the cost of loving yourself.
Forgive yourself for the million tiny ways that you harmed your spirit in the pursuit of someone else’s dream. The big ways, too.
Forgive yourself for not having the courage to be yourself.
Forgive yourself for the times that you didn’t use your voice, which caused an even deeper silence of your soul.
Forgive yourself for being scared, or hesitant, or unkind or unwilling.
Forgive yourself for the exact reasons you don’t believe you don’t deserve forgiveness.
Where do you need to look back to last month, last year, or what feels like a different lifetime altogether and say to yourself: I forgive you because I love you. And really mean that latter part. I find that when we choose to do that, anyone we’re still struggling with: friends, old flames, partners, bosses, confidants, or family ties…what they “did” is less important and the hatred, resentment, and pain dissolves from our being. Not immediately, but forgiveness rounds the edges as we bump up against the corners of their existence.
Return to love by forgiving yourself first. It’ll give you a stronger footing to begin the long voyage of being able to view someone through the eyes of love again.