I’m ready to dive into the murkier stuff. I hope you’ll accompany me. This will be easier if we’re all together. (Make sure you’ve read Forgiveness I and II first.)
Recently I decided to rewrite “The Story of Me.” This is the narrative we tell people as they’re getting to know us and we update it as we see fit. The story I told all of my adult life had a significant dose of victimhood in it. Entering my sixth decade has a lot to do with my willingness to change. (“If not now, when?”)
From a young age, I was the recipient of what might be called a dark legacy. My mother’s father was killed when she was 10 years old and her alcoholic mother raised her. Her response to unresolved trauma shaped her world into one where anger and violence entered. So, I inherited the issues that come with that experience. I protected and fed these issues like my own precious children, ensuring that they’d stay close to me for a very long time. Mistrust, Inertia, Over caring, Perfectionism, Judgment, Blame– I brought an alphabet of negativity to every relationship in my life, especially the one with myself.
So where is the gift in this? I wondered the same thing until I learned a simple truth (from the Course in Miracles teacher Marianne Williamson). I can wake up from my mother’s nightmare. Wow!
However you came by your issues, they’re yours now.
So, I’ve rewritten my story, on paper, in longhand. It makes no mention of my wounds. There’s no place in it for us to bond over our shared misery. Victimhood is conspicuously absent from the tale I will tell going forward. More importantly, every nugget of gold dust, all the good that can be mined from my life experience, is spread throughout. From cellar to attic I’ve cleaned my psychic house. I’ve paid attention to what matters and, in the process, made space for new experiences.
I can hear you saying “Yea, but…” And I get it. What do we do with the parts of our experience that were painful, wounding, and still creep into our thoughts and perhaps our nighttime dreaming? For this we need the watchfulness of an alert animal. Our mind will make us aware of areas as yet unexamined or unhealed. The skillful practice is to note these ghosts from the past, preferably in writing. With a trusted friend or counselor you can then look at them together and then tear them apart. Literally, tearing or burning the paper on which you wrote them down is a ritual that allows you to move into your future without them.
The topic is Forgiveness. What role does that play in our ritual, in the path ahead of us? I like the simple prayer “Please remove any thoughts that do not serve.” (You can add Lord or God to this if that is your inclination but it works either way.) The removal of thoughts of judgment, blame, and attack are essential for the liberation that comes with Forgiveness. You are setting free whomever it is that victimized you and freeing yourself in the process. You may have to do these Forgiveness practices for a long time before you experience relief at a visceral level. There may still be turbulence on your journey to Forgiveness but peace and serenity await you. Again, observe the wisdom of nature where movement and change bring continuous renewal. Go for it!