When we choose to forgive it is incredibly healing, but the only way forward is to look back into our past.
Forgiveness is something that I have been confronted with time and time again. On the list of people to forgive are ex-boyfriends, ex-friends and even bullies from my school years, but my mom is the person that I have had the most difficult time trying to forgive. It has only been until recent months that I have been able to shift my perspective and see everyone who has ever slighted me in some way, through a lens of compassion. I have come to see these people as my teachers. Each and every one who I have felt in the past had done me wrong has taught me invaluable lessons about myself.
The saying “forgive and forget” really triggers me. In fact, I completely disagree with the idea. Having gone through a total shift in perspective myself in the timeline of “before” I suffered from my postpartum mood disorder to “after”, I truly believe that I have had what some would call an awakening. There was a moment as I was coming out of my darkest hour, where I decided to dedicate my entire being to heal myself, so that I would become completely whole again. Over the past year, I have been doing a lot of inner-child work, as well as Teal Swan’s “The Completion Process”. Teal’s school of thought is that we need to reintegrate the aspects of ourselves that we abandoned long ago. It is when we suffered from trauma in the past that we separated from our own being and in turn, fragmented ourselves. Now as an adult, we need to look back in the past each time we are triggered in the present in order to reintegrate all of these aspects of ourselves.
Since actively following Teal’s process and doing inner-child work with my psychologist, I have found that looking back into my past has been an integral part in my recovery. With the compassionate lens that I now look through to see into my past, I can now see that the people who have hurt me, have suffered from their own trauma and this is likely why they did what they did. I have even begun to make progress with forgiving my mom. I have been exploring an exercise where I imagine her as a child and this helps me to see that she was once innocent too. She had a difficult childhood and her parents weren’t able to provide her with what she needed growing up. I have also realized that this is actually a problem that has been passed down from one generation to another, in my family.
For me, the idea of “forgetting” after forgiving someone who has hurt me feels like I am abandoning myself. It feels like I have to swallow it down and forcefully make peace with someone who has caused me pain. The pain that I have felt isn’t something that is easily forgotten. I would absolutely consider these past instances to be traumatic and therefore they have visceral affects. In fact, some might argue that your neural pathways have been altered as a result. So, for me when I am going through the process of forgiving, I need to allow my past “self” to feel what it had felt like in that past moment in time. Since it isn’t until we reach adulthood that our past childhood memories surface, a grieving period is neccessary to complete the forgiveness process. Most of us have learned how to stuff down our feelings and as a result we have lost memories, but they will always resurface into the present so that we can deal with them. So being able to grieve something that happened in our childhood, is an important step in this process.
Another part of the process is coming to a place of acknowledgment and acceptance for what has happened. This doesn’t mean forgetting what has happened. In our minds-eye we can visualize ourselves standing with our past ‘self’ in that traumatic moment and let that ‘self’ speak to us about what happened and invite them to tell us what they need from us. If you allow yourself to come into a meditative state and ask yourself these questions, you will have to trust the inner voice that is providing you with the answers. This is when we can truly heal and reintegrate the past. After this process, we can become self-compassionate and we are able to see in a whole new light. We find ourselves being able to forgive more easily and we can begin to move forward and let go of the past. In no part of this process are we forgetting what has happened. We use our past experience to reclaim our power.
When we choose to forgive it is incredibly healing, but the only way forward is to look back into our past. We pick up the pieces and put ourselves back together. We learn from our mistakes and the mistakes of others. We take all of this back into the present moment and give gratitude to these moments that have shaped us into the people we are today.
Sending so much love and support to each and every one of you reading my posts. xoxo