“Without forgiveness, life is governed by an endless cycle of resentment and retaliation.”
“Holding onto anger is like holding onto a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else;
You are the one who gets burned.”
I suffered a loss about ten months ago. It was the dissolution of a very long friendship. A friendship that had shaped me and impacted my life in more ways than I can even describe. In fact, it was more than a friendship, it was a sisterhood. This woman was deeply and intimately involved in my life for several years. I shared absolutely everything with her. Everything.
And then one day it was over. We had been drifting apart for a few months prior to that day and we both knew it.
We had grown together for years and supported each other through countless trials and successes. We had been as close as two people could possibly be. Truth be told, we were probably closer to one another than we were to our own two husbands. In fact, all things considered, I am sure we were.
Winter was coming to an end and the renewal of Springtime was quietly approaching. I couldn’t put my finger on it at the time, but I could feel a huge shift coming on, and my belief is that she felt it too. And as the days passed by, we were slowly drifting further and further apart. We grew angry and resentful of each other. We no longer shared the same truths, and because we had shared them for so long, it felt like downright betrayal to no longer support each other’s understandings.
Not that either one of us was right or wrong, we were just moving toward newness, and for the first time, it was not the same newness. It was as if we were no longer traveling the life-train together. We were stuck at the same station, clinging to each other, and holding our own selves back from getting on the next train. The fact is that the next train was going to be a solo journey for both of us. We knew it, we could feel it deep down in our bones. But we were truly best friends…we didn’t want to let go so we kept on like this for a good month or two.
The final “day of destruction” was a Sunday. It started at about 8:30 in the morning and continued on well into the night. I am not calling it the “day of destruction” for no reason, by the way. We ripped each other apart that day. We threw away everything either of us had ever learned about compassion and understanding and acceptance. We tossed every thought of respect, kindness, and friendship right out the freaking window. We were mean to each other…hateful, even. We were wrong…what I said, what she said. It was wrong. We acted like third graders with advanced vocabulary. And we hurt one another, very badly.
I know we both tried to force our own realities into the truth of this situation, but like I said, neither of us were right. We were both assholes. We were both wrong. Not that either of the paths we were traveling were wrong, because we are all on equally valid paths. But sometimes we view the flow of life and natural changes of ‘what-is’ as personal attacks against us when they are really no such thing. That being said, the way she and I reacted to the realization of those changes is what was wrong. We both should have made different choices. That day, and for many days after.
Now, its vital to understand that I am writing this ten months later. It took me eight months to even begin the process of forgiveness. I am not going to write about what specifically needed to be forgiven because its unnecessary. Just know that there was a great deal of forgiveness needed by the time this was all over, and these are the two practices I’ve adopted to move in that direction:
1. Letting Go Ceremony
- You need a pen, sheet of paper, and a (controlled!) fire. And then you start writing it all down. Every last thing about it that is making you crazy. Write down the words, the hurt, the feelings, the situation, and everything that happened that brought you to this need to finally forgive. Don’t be shy, in fact, be brutal. Just let the emotion flow out of you on to this sheet of paper. No need to construct it nicely or spell correctly or even think of grammar. This is the time to let your brain just dump it all out. Every negative, lost, angry, hurtful, or destructive idea, thought, or memory. ALL OF IT. Allow your mind to just barf it up like too much tequila. Get it out of you and on to that paper.
- Then you pray about this act of forgiveness, asking for God’s hand in the matter. You make it clear that you’re ready to let go, to move on, to heal, to forgive, and to release the pain. You put it out there, you give it to God, that you seek to be free from this past situation and that you wish to send love and forgiveness to the person or people associated with it.
- Then you actually visualize LIGHT and LOVE radiating from your heart-center (the middle of chest) outward, to the person, people, or circumstances that this whole thing is about. Its hard, yes. I am not saying its easy by any means, this is the hardest part of the ceremony. But you have to try. Send love and light, even if its really difficult to do.
- Lastly, speak a few words of gratitude just for the fact that you have the ability to forgive. Then burn the paper. Tear it up and burn it or simply place it in the fire and watch it go. Just so long as that paper becomes nothing but ashes. Burn it up, burn away all that icky stuff from the past. Give thanks once again and clean up your mess.
2. Forgiving Everyday Thereafter
- You have to keep working in order to nurture the process of forgiveness. It doesn’t happen in one sitting. It takes time to heal and let go. So you continue with this other short exercise every day to support your healing.
- Visualize the person/people that you are forgiving. Picture them as if they are clearly standing right in front of you. Then you speak the following sentence three times, clearly, and with true intention and conviction: “I forgive you, [name], for everything that you’ve done to hurt me, and I wish you well.”
- And you do this, again and again, every single day until you have truly freed yourself from it. You’ll know you are free when its not difficult anymore. When you can visualize the person without getting knots in your stomach. When you can say the sentence with perfect ease requiring no force at all. This is when you know that you’ve forgiven. The love flows freely from you. You’ve accepted your responsibility in the situation, and you’ve allowed the other person(s) to escape from the prison your own mind had trapped them in.
You don’t have to, of course. You can be mad forever and ever and ever if you really want to. I, personally, could not continue that way anymore. I was sick to my stomach with sadness, loss, anger, and guilt. Moving toward forgiveness has liberated me, most certainly. I don’t know if my old friend can feel the forgiveness and love that I try to put out there, and I have no idea whether she’s taken any steps toward doing the same. But I hope so, on both accounts. I hope she receives the love I send, and I hope she has been relieved of the burdens she suffered as well.
But who knows…all I know about forgiveness is that its possible, and while its not easy, ITS WORTH IT.
© Danielle Hewitt (of Loving A Fit Life) and DanielleHewitt.com (including LovingAFitLife.com) 2011 – 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Danielle Hewitt and DanielleHewitt.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.