They say there is a a freedom in forgiveness. A freedom that allows you to move past what others have done to hurt and betray you – a spiritual relief in not carrying around with you the pain of being betrayed by someone you loved and trusted. As tasty as this sounds, in some cases forgiveness isn’t easy to come by. Sometimes the betrayal is beyond what you can even comprehend and is perpetuated by inexplicable continued acts of anger and retribution. Sometimes there is no apology – no introspection by the person who wrongs you…no opportunity to hear “You didn’t deserve that.” How do you find the peace that comes from forgiveness when you’re never given the apology? Is it possible to just move past the hurt and the anger and reach the point of forgiveness without one?
The answer has to be “yes” because otherwise, you’re still at the mercy and your emotions are still at the discretion of the person who has hurt you. An apology is just someone else’s permission for you to move on…and permission isn’t needed. In fact I think it is even more empowering and enriching if you can find forgiveness for someone who hasn’t asked for it and who may have even proved themselves unworthy of it…simply because you have to make the choice to give it to them anyway. It isn’t easy…but nothing worth doing is.
To move through something that is designed to destroy you and arrive on the other side with your head held high, your dignity intact and your actions reconciled with the person you want to be…that’s beyond beautiful. For the first time in my life, while I’ve certainly made mistakes, I can look everyone I love in the eye and know that I have integrity in asking them to love and accept the genuine me in return. I’m real. I’m not a figment of my imagination or a construct of false realities thrown up to distract others from the real me. While I’m humiliated and it’s been hard to keep taking the emotional punches without a fight, I am so grateful to have a true acquaintance with myself and the grace to be true to myself despite the circumstances. I don’t have to lie or create a back story to hide behind. I am who I want to be – who I say I am – and I have nothing to hide.
So…apology accepted, though not offered, and forgiveness given for what has already happened. And from this I gain the strength to stand tall and say without wavering – I am free of you because I have released everything about you and no longer carry any part of you within me. And in the hole that you left in my life and my heart, I’ve replaced you with an unshakable faith in my creator and in myself.
And with this realization, I say “thank you” for stepping aside and creating the needed space.
“It has been said, ‘time heals all wounds.’ I do not agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens. But it is never gone.” ~Rose Kennedy
As days pass and the things that hurt us the most recede into the past, it can sometimes be a surprise to realize that you’ve moved on…even in the smallest measure. When you’re in the middle of a storm it can be hard to believe that the pain will ever go away, that you’ll smile again and that life really does provide happy endings. The blessed are loved by those who remind them of good things to come when they can’t see it themselves and a faith that sustains them when they can’t face an uncertain future. I am one of these….I am blessed.
Yesterday is gone and I’ve finally released my grasp on its memories and painful falsehoods. Tomorrow isn’t here yet and I’m learning to let it arrive before I worry about it. Today is here in front of me and in it I have learned to rejoice in it…as a precious gift that shouldn’t be wasted.
It’s not a matter of healing…it’s a matter of learning and of growing. From my experience, I am challenged to learn how to trust again but be wiser in who I choose to grant my trust. I am forced to accept my own presence without distraction and to accept my own self without reluctance. I am granted the opportunity to get it right, to do it better and to arrive at the end of my story a better woman than I would have been otherwise. I am here and I am breathing…so it’s not over yet…and I feel like a tender new blossom on a withered tree limb. A tiny bud of hope promising beauty, redemption and renewal and my soul swells and bursts with the realization that I’m not done…I’m not over yet. The best is yet to come.
Perhaps one of the greatest gifts God gives us is the freedom to make our choices and to live a life of free will. To have arrived at a point in my life where I’ve survived beautifully and victory is mine is all the more precious in knowing that I had to choose to arrive here…had to choose this path over the one of revenge and anger that seemed so much easier at times. My course here has been a broken one and my steps are still awkward and stumbling but I feel the voice inside of me now that says “You’re loved. You’re ok. You can do this.” and it helps me stand back up when I stumble and guides me when I become lost.
To be given another chance to get it right…to explore life once again and find its possibilities endless before me…what a miracle. To sleep without the nightmares and to awaken without the pain. To finally be freed from the tearful past and to have the ransom paid for my kidnapped heart and soul. To find forgiveness for those who have hurt me and to find true love and friendship in the arms and hearts of those who know me and love me well. To find a soul within me worth redeeming and a life before me worth living. To be so beautifully alive.
This is joy. This is peace. This is beautiful. This is God.
Our new home is all unpacked and set up and it’s beautiful. Throughout the last four days I’ve attacked this task like the madwoman that I am. My determination was not one born from a need to be settled in our home as much as one derived from a need to find order and make sense of the world into which I’ve found myself thrust. Surely, once the boxes are unpacked and everything has been set up, my world will make more sense. Undoubtedly it has been a lack of a home to call my own that has left me with the gaping hole in my soul that refuses to heal. Hopefully I will start to feel peace when I start to feel comfortable in saying “home” again. If I just keep unpacking and creating a new home for myself and my small family, I’ll find these things at the bottom of the last box…
As I completed the task of rummaging through hastily packed boxes and rediscovering my belongings from a past life, I had expected to find some level of satisfaction. How naive I was to even assume that the act of nesting could relieve the pain of being betrayed by someone I loved with all of my heart. How silly to believe that belonging somewhere else would take away the sting of being pushed so cruelly out of my own home and the life I had built upon the promises of someone whose loyalty crumbled so easily. Admittedly – I’ve landed on my feet and I’ve survived the worst heartache I’ve ever experienced. This should be a time for celebration and a “hear me roar” flavored victory. I should be happy. I should be proud. I should be able to feel my heart healing…at least a little bit.
This morning I sit surrounded by the contents of my unpacked boxes and my new home is crisp in its order and tidiness. Anyone who would visit me might think “Wow! She’s really pulling it together.” What they wouldn’t see is the broken shards of expectations and dreams that still haunt my mind and clutter my vision. The oil painting of my grandmother’s farm looks beautiful on that wall…but I remember how is used to hang above the battered leather couch and next to a plaque that declared “Welcome To Our Home.” The silver dog bowls are washed and sit shining on my kitchen floor…their emptiness reminding me that my pup is living with another family because she, like me, was suddenly unwelcome and undesired in the home that was once ours. The trash outside holds an otherwise innocuous worn black t-shirt that was forgotten by the person who wore it and that tore my heart and soul when I discovered it at the bottom of a duffle bag. The back corner of my closet hides the anniversary gift that was back-ordered and arrived in the mail the same day I realized my marriage was over. The walls are decorated with gifts from a friend that remind me to find “Peace” “Hope” and “Joy” in my new home…emotions I’ve struggled to find and hold onto through the chaos of unexpected change.
Now that my new home is unpacked and in order, I’m left with the unavoidable, but very necessary, task of uncluttering my mind. I can’t avoid that mess that resides within me any longer. I have nothing left to distract me and, quite simply, it’s time for me to face all of those thoughts, questions and insecurities that I’ve been avoiding while I worked my body past the point of exhaustion. It’s time to find a way to let go of what was and work through the stages of grief…making real progress towards true acceptance of what is. It’s time for me to spend some time alone with myself…the one person I’ve tried to avoid for most of my life. It’s time to face the reality of what has been shown to me and let go of my hopes for the past – acknowledging that what I held so dear wasn’t real and my blind faith in someone else was foolish and my unwavering trust was undeserved. It’s time for me to dig through all of the clutter and start rebuilding new hope…and a faith in myself.
For weeks I have been deep cleaning my new home and preparing it for me and my son. I have been bargain shopping for new furniture and carefully walking heel-to-toe measuring out spaces and planning for where everything will be placed. I have cleaned every surface, scrubbed every inch and sanitized everything that will be touched and used by my small family. The hard work has been a labor of love and an exercise in hopefulness…the sowing of the seeds for a new beginning. As the day of my big move to my new home approached, I expected to feel excitement, freedom and liberation. Instead I have been increasingly overwhelmed with fear and agonizing sadness.
Yesterday was supposed to be a day of packing and preparing for my move. Even though it has only been a few weeks since my dear friend opened her home to us when we had nowhere else to go, our belongings have been tucked away and spread around her entire house. What took only four hours to move into her house will take at least two days to gather together and pack up for the move. The truck has been reserved and the muscle has been hired to help – the date of the upcoming move is set and is not negotiable. I have so much to do and so little time to get it done, but yesterday I spent the day in my pajamas and curled up under a blanket. Instead of preparing to embark on the next chapter of my life, I spent the day alone – crying and screaming insanely at the realization that I would never go home…that I was officially taking the final step away from everything I had once held so dear and believed in so fervently.
“I want to go home” I texted to one of my dearest friends. “I want to wake up from this nightmare and find myself in the home I thought I’d never leave and with the family I thought I’d never lose.”
At some point yesterday I finally dropped to my knees in prayer and asked for a peacefulness I can no longer achieve on my own. “Take this pain, God….it’s too much for me to bear. Please give my mind the peace it needs to be focused on what needs to be done. Please give my soul the strength to believe in new beginnings that will bring my family the redemption and purpose that You promise. Please help me. I’m lost again.”
How satisfying it would be to write that my prayer was answered in beautiful clarity and that I was infused with unwavering determination and an enduring joyfulness. How proud I would be to say that I changed out of my pajamas at some point yesterday and spent time being productively engaged in preparing for moving into my new home. How deeply I would like to be able to truthfully report that everything is ready to go and I no longer carry within me the fear and sadness that brought me to my knees yesterday. I would like to say all of these things, but I would be lying. This morning I’m not wearing pajamas and I’ve managed to put a good dent in the task of packing. I’ve found some level of productivity but my mind is still whispering the doubts and my heart is still beating too quickly from fear.
I guess it is true – the true measure of bravery is not the absence of fear and the accurate measure of hope is not taken when circumstances are all well known and the outcome discernable. Today is a new day and tomorrow will bring the unavoidable task of moving into a new home that brings a new set of hopes and dreams…and will never be filled with the same hopes and dreams of my yesterdays. My feet are uncertain and hesitant and my heart is reluctant, but I’m taking the steps forward and away from my past. Sometimes I guess you just have to celebrate every step, even the small ones, and each accomplishment toward moving forward and away from events that shatter and scar you. My steps may be small and tentative…and they may be embarrassing in their clear demonstration of my significantly impaired ability to be independent and strong…but they are steps in the right direction. Upon these baby steps I will strive to build a foundation of believing in myself again…of being a woman who can look back some day in the future and speak of this time with a healed heart and soul.
Baby steps may be the only kind of progress I’m capable of today…but I’m blessed to have found the balance to take them and for my faith in leading me to move away from my past and into the future that has been designed for me. I am humbled…and tomorrow, I will be home.
And for these baby steps, I am grateful.