Forgiveness. A word we hear a LOT. Today I am thinking about this word and just how I got myself to finally forgive. What is forgiveness? Well, by definition according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, to forgive means “to stop feeling anger toward (someone who has done something wrong): to stop blaming (someone) or to stop feeling anger about (something): to forgive someone for (something wrong).” Reading this definition is quite simple when trying to understand what it means to forgive.
Is forgiveness really that simple? No. And is it always about someone or something else? Not entirely. It needs to start with yourself.
As someone who has been handed some of life’s toughest challenges, I have often thought in the past about the term forgiveness. After all, it was a word that was thrown at me quite often. I remember one night, after my Mother found out about a violent rape that I endured months’ prior and she was chasing me around the house as I was screaming and throwing anything I could get my hands on.
I was ANGRY! My Mother is a Minister and I was always raised to follow the Lord. I attended Church growing up and remember the Sunday school lessons at home my Mom would do with us after church, to retell the stories that we learned. I heard it all, I let it soak in but I denied its truth.
My childhood was a very confusing time, with its own challenges, pushing me away from Love. In a way, I was stuck in my childhood, never growing and exceeding to a Higher place of self-acceptance and Love. I never loved myself and on that fateful night in the summer of 2000, when the rapist decided to take my innocence as a young woman, I shut down. My heart and emotions became frozen. And forgive? No way. That was off my radar.
If my life was like a movie after that night, it felt like I was always dreaming…but the dream wasn’t pleasant. It was a total nightmare. I seemed to have made wrong choices and life was confusing. My confidence was zero and I pushed most people away. I was constantly on the defense (despite the wonderful friends and family that surrounded me). Most of all, I stayed in victim mode for a long time. Ugh! No way to live life. I seemed to have allowed darkness to take over in my soul.
Forgiveness had become a foreign word to me. Little did I know that was the path to freedom.
On November 12 2013, I lost my son Joseph, who was a stillborn. More anger developed again after three years of trying to manage it down in therapy. My anger was off the chart and so was my judgment of myself. I felt such guilt. I blamed my body for being unable to carry him successfully to term.
I may have heard the word forgiveness mentioned by caring people, but it did not register in my mind. It was as if the word was in another language. I blocked love from entering and making its way to my heart and soul. How can I possibly forgive myself?
At first losing Joseph only added more layers of hatred. I hated life. I hated the people who cared most for me. I hated God. And I absolutely hated myself, hating my body even more. My body at this point had failed me and done nothing but bring me pain. It was just an empty vessel to me needing to be filled, but I didn’t know how.
It had been brutally abused by a man I didn’t know and it failed to keep my son safe. That first day out of the hospital after I said goodbye to Joseph was the darkest I had EVER been, despite the fact that the Angels miraculously made themselves known to me in the labor room, I chose not to believe that I was worthy of their light.
Little did I know just how hard they were working to Awaken me and how much Love they were pouring into me. My soul yearned to believe, but my mind kept love away. Rape is a violent act in which the victim is terrorized and forced to surrender their body to the perpetrator and the after effects destroys the victim’s mind, body and soul.
Losing a baby or even not being able to conceive, is one of the most difficult challenges a parent can go through. And for a woman, who holds the womb in which the baby is supposed to grow, infant loss and infertility can tear her heart and emotions down completely.
A woman’s womb is the window to the world, the veil between Heaven and Earth and it is our job to see that this is done under the best possible circumstances. Therefore, when things go wrong, how can we not cast judgements on ourselves? How can we not have anger and sorrow?
The anger we feel toward ourselves is so severe that being able to forgive is unbearable. We feel as though we are not allowed to, for if we dared to forgive the judgments we cast upon ourselves then we are betraying the baby we miss so much. If we forgive those who harm us, then we must take responsibility for our own soul’s transformation.
Happiness after losing a baby feels so wrong for some Mothers. Yet I have come to realize that happiness is a responsibility to our growth. Letting go of these judgments, itempowers us to receive Love that has always been there. And for me, this mean forgiving myself for letting myself continue to be a victim of rape as well. By doing this, I am forgiving myself and taking responsibility for my healing. I know now that without forgiving myself healing is impossible.
Yes, someone took advantage of me and yes, I did not take care of myself well after that but it is not the reason Joseph died. My nine-year-old daughter reminds me of that every day. I birthed her, healthy and strong in the middle of the turmoil aftermath of the rape. Yet, somehow over the years I have meshed together all of my hardships and judgments into one.
And it was time to stop. Time to forgive. But how do we do this?
There is not a magic wand that one can wave over you to erase the past. Forgiveness takes work…a lot of work. Soul growth is the hardest part when balancing mind, body and spirit. But it starts with this step: acknowledge the judgments you have made on yourself from your past.
Then asking yourself some questions: What are the judgments you have made? What have you learned from those challenging times? What part of that do you judge yourself for? How do you see your experience as part of your purpose?
So begin by telling yourself what your judgments are and perhaps saying them aloud, journal them in a notebook or simply think about them. Do whatever works for you. For me, I judged my body for the rape and for losing my sweet Joseph.
I realized that I looked at my body negatively as though I was constantly saying “YOU DID THIS! YOU FAILED ME! YOU ARE WEAK!” That kept my soul from going toward love and peace and in a place of darkness. I had to release the judgments so I could move into a Higher Consciousness and into the light. Know this: the Light above will find you! The soul seeks for you to be Awake and all you have to do is forgive yourself and those who may have harmed you.
And while prayer, yoga and exercise, meditation or any form of self-care keeps you grounded and stronger to push through hard times; margaritas and laughter with the girls can be a good option too!
Stay connected to your tribe my beautiful sisters out there because while fear is powerful, LOVE IS MORE POWERFUL!