Are you struggling with memories that are keeping you stuck thinking and living in the past? Are there places in your life where you just don’t want to go? As an abuse survivor, for years I felt imprisoned by my fears and anger, thinking and believing that I could never forgive such horrible acts of invasion. Whenever I was reminded of anything remotely painful, soon after I’d find myself reaching for food to make it all better. It was a constant battle of trying to fight off my cravings and need to soothe myself and balance that with being strong. One day someone introduced me to Emotional Freedom Technique and I learned that forgiveness wasn’t just for the person being forgiven, but a gift that I could give myself. From the moment that I began to feel forgiveness in my heart and compassion for the man who had hurt me so much, my life began to bloom in ways unexpected and unimaginable. All was well for awhile, but then the hurt came creeping back. Since then I discovered that forgiveness has layers like an onion and although you may think you’re at peace with someone, you may need to focus more effort on releasing your resistance and letting your light shine. Here’s how it worked for me.
Are there parts of your life that are still hurting, keeping you angry, feeling helpless and hopeless, pushing you to feel like giving up on yourself or others? Are you still living in the past holding onto old resentments, betrayals and hurts or have you given yourself the gift of forgiveness?
I’ve been out of touch for awhile because I’ve been living through and facing a lot of my own challenges. Some of you know that I’ve spoken of my abusive background and mentioned how with the help of EFT, it became not only possible but essential to forgive those who had hurt me. Back in 2004, I forgave my mother’s husband, Jorge for all the harm that he had inflicted on me as a child. I thought it was behind me. I thought that I had risen above my anger and was able to handle the past. Whenever I called my mother and he would answer the phone, I was cordial. But it hasn’t been easy accepting that she chose to remain with him (even knowing what he did so long ago) for the past 35 years.
Many times I’ve wanted to vent my anger on her for making that choice, but because she suffers from bipolar disorder, it never quite seemed like the right time. She always seems so delicate and frightened. Her affliction and evidence of her weakness has created a wider rift between us. Over the last 15 years that she has been ill, it seems that whenever she comes to visit within a day, she is soon out of touch, nearly incoherent and staring at the walls. It’s been heartbreaking to see her this way and to know that I couldn’t help her. Despite my wanting to settle her closer to us, she continues to reject my offer in favor of remaining with her husband. Whenever I ask her, “Mommy, why are you still with Jorge? She says, “Because I love him and I want to be with him.” Her response to my question, “Is he being good to you, is always “Yes.” I’ve resolutely come to accept that he has had some kind of magical power over her that keeps her under his spell. Over the years, it’s become clearer to me that our relationship flourishes best on the phone as opposed to seeing each other face to face. In many ways I’ve written her off as a lost soul, and often have said that perhaps in her next life she can be at peace and actually have a life.
Several weeks ago I spoke with my mother on the phone and she asked me to pray for her husband because he was going to have an operation on his heart. He is a diabetic with heart problems. At first, as soon as she asked me to pray for Jorge, I felt conflicted but I vowed to give her my support. The next day I went to church and when it came time to share, I began to ask the congregation for their support for his healing as well as their prayers to help to repair the rift between my father and I. When I began to speak about Jorge’s condition and ask for prayers, I was immediately struck by feelings of great sadness, and I was unable to continue speaking loudly enough to be heard. My minister, Rob came over to me and listened patiently as I continued to share my request between sobs. My daughter, Cara held me close hugging me tightly. By the time I finished my tearful sharing I felt as though a weight had been lifted from my heart. After church, many people came up to me to offer their support.
Since then Jorge has been admitted to a nursing home and my mother has been living alone. That has opened up so many new fears and concerns for my mother that I never even considered. I didn’t realize it, but Jorge’s presence has been a blessing to my mom in that he was able to care for her when she was unable to care for herself. But now since he’s been absent I’ve done my best to provide as much care and security as possible despite being so far away.
Rather than calling her every couple of weeks or on the occasions when I’ve feared facing her depression cycles, every couple of months I’ve been speaking with her several times a day and seeing a bit of my old mom again. It’s been incredibly heartening seeing evidence of her strength and gusto reappearing.
There Are Layers of Forgiveness
This morning as I returned back to church I shared again thanking everyone for their prayers. I told them that I realized that there are layers to forgiveness, and despite the fact that I thought I had forgiven Jorge for hurting me all those years ago, when it came time to ask for help for him, I was deeply, deeply, deeply conflicted and felt like a hypocrite asking for prayers. I shared that I had come to a new realization that by the simple act of my asking for his healing, I was getting healed as well. I can’t say what will happen with my mom and if she will continue to be as strong as she’s been, or if she will accept the help that I have to offer, but I do know this. I am now realizing that as I go deeper into my own ability to forgive, my life is becoming richer and I’m beginning to see more blessings springing forth where before I only saw darkness.
Today Rob’s sermon was on being a light to those around us. He explained how the light in our lives is really the result of our ability to resist our own darkness. That’s how it works with light. There are resistors in the light that hold back the darkness. By asking for prayers for Jorge, I moved past a great resistance that I was feeling not so much toward him, but toward my mother. Rob said that when we spread our light, it can’t help but touch others as well. Now I realize that I gave up on my mother too soon, thinking –What can I do? I can’t make a difference. She’s too far away. Nothing I can do will help her. But I see that I was wrong. It’s those really small things that can make a difference. Maybe she’s clinging on and holding back her own darkness because she’s looking forward to something again in her life. Maybe I can be that little light that can shine and touch her life.
Are You Shining Your Light?
How ’bout you? Are you shining your light? Is there someone in your life who you may have given up on too soon who may need you now? Today think about what spots in your life are still hurting and consider what you might need to do to start the healing. Will the healing begin with a phone call, a letter, a knock on their door, a prayer request? Give yourself the gift of healing today and focus on shining your light to resist the darkness.
forgiveness, loving, Andrea Amador, The Juicy Woman, Lovin’ the Skin You’re In: The Juicy Woman’s Guide to Making Peace with Food and Friends with Your Body, sexual abuse, Emotional Freedom Technique, EFT