Forgiveness is a big part along the path to self-love and self-acceptance, to loving and accepting yourself fully.
I was sexually abused by my father growing up. Mostly, from that experience, I have learned about forgiveness. He has transitioned from this life now, about 10 years ago. I had the fortunate experience to be able to have a relationship with him for the last 7 years of his life. We had some talks. The first time he apologized, after some yelling and crying on my part, I nervously accepted his apology. I didn’t want to talk about it but, I DID want to talk about it. For me, it was a very uncomfortable situation. One which a big part of me wanted to avoid. At the same time, part of me knew that the conversation had to happen. I am so grateful the conversation happened. In this very moment, as I am writing, I realize how much courage that it took, on both our parts. I feel blessed to have been able to confront and forgive the person who partook in creating a traumatic experience in my life.
Well, I thought that I forgave him. I said I forgave him. I meant it when I said to him that I forgave him. After he passed, years later, I realized I hadn’t forgiven him completely. Then I realized that I needed to forgive MYSELF! I found it harder to forgive myself. When an experience like sexual abuse happens, some of the emotions that can arise are shame and guilt. I feel guilt that I could have done something differently. I could have told an adult, I could have screamed or I could have runaway. I did runaway sometimes, but it was to escape to the back of the car in the driveway! When I think about the different actions I could have taken, I can be very judgmental with myself. But the truth of the matter is, that I have no idea what the outcome would have been had I made any of those other choices. So, here I sit with the choices I made at that time. Forgiving myself. It is futile telling myself that if I would have done something different, the situation would have been “better.” What is NOT futile, is forgiving myself. Allowing the stored anger, sadness, shame and guilt to come up, feel the emotions and let them go with love.
I was in a therapy session one time, and we were talking about my divorce. I was in the thick of emotions around it. After the hour, she walked over to her bookshelf, grabbed a book and said, “This is for you. Take it home and read it.” I looked down and read, “*The Courage to Heal: A Guide for Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse.” I said, “Okay, thanks.” What I was really thinking was, “Uhhh, I’ve done the healing around this experience. Why is she handing me this dictionary of a book?!”
I got home and put the giant book on a table. I was in the middle of reading a Pema Chodron book my sister sent me. As I was reading, “*When Things Fall Apart,” the book, “The Courage to Heal,” was staring at me… And staring at me… And staring at me. Yes, it was a profound time!!! Finally, I said “Okay! I will pick you up!” I told myself, “I will just read the first few pages.” I got to the 4th or 5th page and thought, “Hmmm, I kind of resonate with what this person is saying…” I finished the first chapter and put it down, but something compelled me to bring it up to bed with me. I woke up at 2am that night and couldn’t fall back asleep. I decided to turn on the light and take a look at THAT book. I read 3 more chapters and began crying. I cried like I have never cried before. The kind of cry where your chest is heaving and you are trying to catch your breath. I cried for 3 hours straight. It was unbelievably cathartic! The emotions I had stored deep down in my body in my cells, were coming up to be expressed and felt. It was beautiful. I literally felt lighter in my body.
It was challenging to forgive myself. I am not sure that I have 100%, and I figured out why not too long ago. I realized how convoluted having a sexual abuse experience is. What a peculiar experience to have. Sexual abuse is different from other traumas in that it stimulates the body to feel “good” yet, I knew as a child that something was wrong. Think about that. Making a connection between a good feeling in your body and something being wrong. That creates a duality, a dichotomy within. I associate feeling “good” with being wrong. It is like, I am not allowed to feel good. If I feel good, I often fear it will be sabotaged. I will sabotage it. I have and sometimes still do sabotage myself when I feel too joyful. It is like I don’t deserve to feel joy. Intellectually, I know that’s rubbish. It is my birthright to feel love and joy, as it is everyone’s!
I realize that I have more forgiving to do with my dad and MYSELF! I could say, “I forgive,” but I want and need to feel it in my body. I need authentic forgiveness with compassion, acceptance and love. By doing this, I will be changing myself and helping others heal too. There is an energy around similar experiences in life. When one person heals from a trauma, it helps assist ALL who have that experience to heal. The energy begins to shift.
This is part of my voice. Part of what my soul wants to share and express. I share my voice with the intention of helping others to speak their own truth, to feel those bottled up emotions from trauma and to come into love and acceptance. Let go of the past. “It is an experience I had. It is not who I am!” Live in the moment. Scream with love, “This is what I’m doin’!”
Do you need to forgive someone or yourself? You must let those stored emotions come up and be felt so that you can fully forgive and let go. Let go, so that you may live in the present. Become empowered from your experiences! Don’t let them stay stored in your body. Become free from the trauma to live more fully in your heart center. Love and accept all of you! Find YOUR voice. Continue to discover your truth and share it with the world!
love and light