In light of the tragedy yesterday I was reflecting on what, if anything, to post and the Hoʻoponopono mantra came to mind. That was instantly followed by a visceral WRONG. It's too soon to forgive. Which brought me to this post on the topic of forgiveness which I wrote on my personal blog several weeks ago. So I'm re-posting it here with an intention of blessings, healing, and light to everyone touched by the devastating events yesterday.
So here goes- Forgiveness. It’s one of the main teachings in every religion and a central tenet of all the woo woo stuff as well (Abraham-Hicks, Course in Miracles, I Am the Word, etc). Forgive everyone everything. When you don’t forgive it’s like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. Sound familiar? I totally get it and 100% believe that our growth is limited by the degree to which we wish others harm. How could it not be? And yet...
And yet. I’ve found personally that all of this forgiveness stuff can also be really damaging. Why? Because my pattern has been to suppress my anger. My home growing up was extremely volatile and I learned that it’s not safe when people get angry. So I stuffed it, and kept stuffing it, for years and years. I’d be in a dharma talk listening to my teacher speak about forgiveness and have this almost smug feeling, like “This doesn’t apply to me. I’ve already forgiven my parents for everything. I wasn’t mad at them to begin with.” But what I was actually doing was bypassing the rage.
And guess what- there came a point when that rage would not be bypassed. Anger is a completely healthy and valid response to having one’s boundaries violated, and I had experienced some pretty egregious violations. It felt like I was sitting on a volcano, no- that I WAS the volcano- and within me there was a boundless pool of seething magma that could erupt at any time. Sometimes during meditations or therapy sessions it would come through and I would sit with it, or shake it out, or scream. That was helpful and I began to learn that it’s not so dangerous, and it actually felt good to release it.
Then, one day several months ago I got into an argument with someone and a LOT of anger came through. So much. It was incredibly damaging and hurtful to this person and our relationship but I felt overpowered. After a few days I cooled off enough to begin to want to forgive this person, but it was impossible. As much as my rational mind and the majority of my heart wanted to forgive, there was a part of me that was not giving in- that was still angry. It was literally beyond my control. No matter how often I did Hoʻoponopono, or prayed, or meditated, or talked it through with my wisest friends, it was not happening. I began to feel like there was something wrong with me, that I was failing on my spiritual path because I could not forgive. Why couldn’t I forgive when in my deepest heart I believed it was good and necessary?
The simple answer that kept coming up was that I just wasn’t ready. Also one of my teachers told me something that was very helpful: she said that sometimes we need to know what it feels like to not be in forgiveness. I don’t yet know why I needed to be in unforgiveness for so long, but I realized that forgiveness isn’t something I can force. I can hold the value and set the intention to forgive, but the actual letting go is beyond me. It’s grace.
It took almost six months and two intense alchemy sessions, but I eventually did arrive in that gracious space of forgiveness (yay!!!) What I learned through all of this and what I would share with anyone this resonates with (or with my younger self) is: It’s okay to be angry sometimes. Express that shit! Let it out! But maybe not directly to the person- I recommend kick boxing and/or a therapist who encourages you yell, hit things, etc. BUT if someone has seriously violated you and you want to let them have it, go for it! There’s nothing wrong with you. The forgiveness will come if you remain open to it. You don’t need to force it. There’s nothing wrong with you. I love you. You’re a good person. I love you.
by April b.
I'm the human behind Mind Altering Reality, and this is where you'll find things I've written about me, about life, and about my practice.