I am writing you this note of encouragement as I am aware that you have fully accepted your reality and are living into it, with all of the pain and exhaustion it brings. It is now time to take the next step in Living Hope that will lead you to freedom: forgiveness. Unlike many parts of my journey, forgiveness did not occur in a single moment or through inspiration. Rather, I was set free by becoming aware of what comprises forgiveness.
There was such depth to my anger as my marriage dissolved. I agonized over all the ways I felt wounded by The Former, all the ways in which I had wounded myself, and at the depths, all the ways in which I had wounded him.
In my therapeutic work, I often began my session wailing, “How could I have let this happen to me?!” Once the scales had fallen from my eyes, I was truly mystified at how I had allowed the relationship to continue in spite of so many obstacles. Through the Practices of Honesty and Curiosity, I grounded myself in the truth of what had led up to the point of impact. I knew all the ways in which The Former’s pain had shaped his actions, and I had identified the ways in which I had contributed to the situation; but a new wave of grief surfaced at recognizing that, while it was much more comforting to blame The Former, it was imperative that I hold myself accountable for the ways in which I had contributed to the outcomes.
The resistance to accountability is shame. Its emotion burns so painfully that it prevents your movement forward, corroding the self-love that leads to redemption. I had to go back to the beginning of my relationship with The Former and confront each time I was fully aware of the dysfunction but chose to ignore it; I had to feel empathy for the trauma that had contributed to his behavior; and then, most importantly, I had to lovingly forgive myself for seeing the dysfunction and choosing to stay in it.
I had to explore the feelings of fear and unworthiness that controlled my codependence and truly feel deep compassion for the girl who was slowly transforming into a truer representation of who she was called to be. In finding that compassion, I was able to forgive myself for having been fully aware that, for the decade that The Former and I were together, I had seen and ignored all of the warning signs that the dissolution of our marriage would be inevitable, regardless of how hard I tried to fix, change, manipulate, or control him and the situation.
I began the Practice of Forgiveness by owning up to my part in our story. I had to come to terms with the fact that, while he had hurt me deeply, I, too, had things that I had to own up to. When I was faced with the opportunity for deep empathy for The Former, I was able to see his pain from a new perspective — one that released me from taking the blame for his actions and included my own contribution to our relationship’s downfall.
In laying bare my trespasses in need of forgiveness and acknowledging the wrongdoing by The Former, I was finally able to find release from the pain, regret, shame, and failure that our time together had produced. And what was left was an appreciation of what my time with The Former had led me to: freedom.
You will begin the Practice of Forgiveness when you are willing to peel back the layers of blame you keep placing on others and on yourself and have empathy and acceptance for the root cause of the pain, both inflicted and received. By doing this, you are acknowledging your own need for forgiveness. It is then that you will find the release needed to move forward unburdened.
You are loved.