breathe on it (lessons in forgiveness part 2)

Since my last post, my list of people to forgive continued to climb. Last night it reached 24. If the last five days has shown me anything, it’s that once I start trying to deal with this s$*! and really move on with my life, more hurt and anguish from the past will surface. It’s like an email inbox that hasn’t been cleared for a long time. You get to the bottom of the 50 or so emails you can see, you read them, reply, file, delete and then another 50 pops up at you.

Last night I started my journey to really let go of the past and the stuff that has been ‘done’ to me. I began with a loving-kindness meditation, focussing on someone I love in an uncomplicated way. Then I directed that love back to myself. To be honest, I wasn’t in a great place last night, so after 40 minutes of meditation, I didn’t feel particularly serene. I still had a knot of anxiety in my stomach and I hadn’t forgiven anyone.

But my beautiful best friend and partner was sitting with me, also meditating, and when I looked over at him, I realised where I could start. I gave him my forgiveness for something that happened a long time ago, was long since apologised profusely for and that I had nevertheless not let go of. One down. If I was hoping for some kind of epiphany, it wasn’t coming. I did feel a little more at ease though and I think something heavy between us shifted.

When I got to bed, I couldn’t sleep, so I looked up Caroline Myss, a well known medical intuitive with a 93% accuracy rate in diagnosing people’s illnesses and their causes. Her work had been recommended to me by my wonderful naturopath, who is also becoming a close friend. I found one of Myss’ lectures on youtube (oh the wonders of youtube!), and lay back to listen.

Caroline Myss doesn’t fulfil the whimsical stereotype of someone whose profession is based on intuition. She is direct, she can be blunt, and several times during the lecture I felt myself shutting down to her words as though they were a personal insult. However I realised that if her words were making me react negatively, there was a strong chance she was telling me some truths that I didn’t want (but desperately needed) to hear.

I won’t go into detail of the parts of Myss’ lecture I found difficult because I cannot do it justice in a few lines, especially as I watched it at midnight last night. Basically she said that many of us find comfort in our wounds. We use them to define ourselves, to cloak ourselves from reproach by others and to slow down the rate of change in our lives. Our language changes to accommodate our wounds and to present them to others. Myss calls this language ‘woundology’.

There were a further five points Myss made that stuck with me. The first was that healing isn’t logical, because it requires forgiveness and letting go of things that have happened to us, even if the perpetrator isn’t sorry. The second was that every good life change is precipitated by major upheaval, even if that upheaval seems traumatic at the time. The third was that everything goes in cycles, so if we’re having a bad time today, tomorrow will be better. The fourth was that we have the ability to experience multiple realities simultaneously, such that even if we are experiencing difficulty in one part of our lives, we can still be okay in the rest of our lives.

The fifth, and probably most important thing Myss said, was that every time we re-live and feel resentment for things that happened in our past, or when we respond to something happening in our present based on what has happened in our past, we are giving some of our power (strength, spirit, soul) to that negative thing. This power, energy, spirit, or whatever you want to call it, is the same energy that gives us life. If it’s stuck in the past, we get sick in the present.

Wow.

That means I have given part of my power to at least 24 different people in my past. And since I need to forgive some of these people for more than one event, my power and strength has been divided even further. I want my power back!

So this morning I got up, and after an hour of procrastinating, I sat down to meditate. I did a guided meditation first and then sat with my thoughts for a further 15 minutes. In that 15 minutes, I managed to forgive 7 people. One of them I realised I wasn’t holding much resentment towards anymore anyway. For the rest, I sat and consciously sent them love, peace and tranquility.

And you know what happened? It worked! It was freaking amazing. As I sat there, I was able to dispassionately reflect on the event I was resentful about and finally see the situation from their perspective. I started to gain insight into the thoughts and feelings these people would have been experiencing at the time.

Two of these people had been going through a health crisis at the time of the event, one of them had deep insecurities about their parents’ love for them and was scared of attachment, one of them had been desperately unhappy with their life circumstances and was seeking a distraction, one of them was constantly stressed and worked up to the point of explosion and one of them hurt me when we were both 17. This last person I realised had, at the time, been watching her parent’s marriage disintegrate at home while she was trying to concentrate on finishing school. She lashed out at me because she saw me as her in-class competitor, having no idea about the troubles I was experiencing myself at home.

So, all up, I have forgiven 8 people on my list of 24. I started with the easiest on the list- those who had done one thing I needed to forgive them for or whose actions were long enough ago that the associated pain had faded somewhat. It was a start. And it felt really good.

Next up, I will be working on forgiving those who have hurt me more deeply. I suspect it will be harder and take longer. But I’ll let you know.

How do you feel after you’ve forgiven people? Does the pain go away straight away?

You can find Caroline Myss’ website here

The lecture I listened to last night is here. It’s in 8 parts and I’ve hyperlinked the first.