Nearly everyone has been hurt by something someone said, did or didn’t do. It’s just a fact of life. It’s just the way it is. The sooner we understand that and the sooner we understand that it’s not always about us, the faster we can deal with it and move on with our lives.
When my husband left me with two small children while my mother was dying of breast cancer, the word forgiveness did not enter my vocabulary. I was so busy managing the day-to-day chaos of sickness, a premature baby and an ornery toddler that I didn’t have time for anger, resentment and thoughts of revenge. I can tell you that during that two year span of time where I also went through a foreclosure, and a deed in lieu of foreclosure. I had to sell my car and my dog died. I heard from everyone that I needed to do two things: work on myself and forgive.
The working on myself sounded pretty good, but the forgiveness part burned in my heart like a fever. See after growing up in church, it became clear to me I never really understood what forgiveness meant. All I knew then was it was something I needed to do. My friend who was a doctor told me if I learned how to forgive, I would be healthier, have better relationships, and have less anxiety, depression and hostility. Gee, ya think?
I read all these books and went to seminars that taught me that forgiveness doesn’t mean that I have to deny what happened to me or relieve the other person of responsibility of what they have done. It doesn’t minimize or justify the wrong. It just means I have to let go of resentment and thoughts of revenge. Sounds good.
The one thing I couldn’t figure out was, how? How do you forgive when the wrong keeps paying you back day after day and year after year–especially when the affair is in your face in a daily basis and so is the financial devastation in your monthly bank statement?
I tried burning things. Pictures of him. Pictures of her. A voodoo doll I made. I wrote in a journal mean, hateful, passionate things until my fingers fell off and the marks looked like they had been carved there by Satan. I wrote a manifesto and shredded it, releasing it into the wind. I chanted. I meditated. I burned sage and I burned about 50 white candles to clear out my rage.
Then while sitting in the bathtub at midnight on a Saturday night while my kids slept, I looked out the window and whispered enough. I was ready to actively choose to forgive the man I married for not seeing the gigantic mistake he made in cheating on me. I was no longer going to define myself by how I had been hurt. I wasn’t going to teach my children that their mom was so mortally wounded that life did not go on… and I was going to get better!
Shortly after, I buried my mom. I let go of the grief of the loss of my marriage and replaced it with the grief over the loss of my mother. I won’t tell you that I have found compassion and understanding for my ex-husband leaving me during such a difficult time. I won’t tell you that I have minimized the hurt I sustained from that betrayal and subsequent abandonment.
I will tell you what you probably know. Time heals all wounds. Chocolate helps a broken heart. Do everything non-destructive and non-intrusive to help yourself during your healing process. If you need to dance around naked in your living room with the drapes shut and the kids are on overnight, do it!
There is not one way to arrive at the decision to forgive, it just happens. It happens when you decide to stop punishing yourself for what happened to you. Bouncing with Style is all about how you take care of yourself as you recover from what life throws at you. You can recover, you can rebound, or you can Bounce with Style.