by P. Braithwaite

I have reached the end of my 30 day forgiveness journey, and today seems like an appropriate day to reflect on forgiveness, prayer, and moving forward. It was drafted WEEKS ago, but I’ve been resistent to share….

I am writing this in a beautiful outdoor space surrounded by tikki torches and twilight. I am alive, and the past is actually behind me.

I did forgiveness work around my ex. Ya’ll read the blogs; you know the one. Prior to this challenge, the mention of his name made me nervous. I had anxiety about the memories and the lies. My stomach would tighten when I heard his name (his name is also an adjective, so I heard it and saw it more often than I liked). The first thing I realized:

1. The lack of forgiveness, the inability to let go was in some crazy way, a desire to “feel” in control: If I worried, somehow I could affect change. If I didn’t forgive, I wouldn’t have to move on or move forward. I wouldn’t have to look in the mirror and see myself in the present. I wouldn’t have to see a single, magnificent person capable of taking care of herself. To withhold forgiveness, was a desperate attempt at staying the same.

This process had its tests and strange occurrences. While I never actually heard from him (thank god…), the universe kept bringing me people and circumstances that were testing my forgiveness work. The universe is good for that, bringing you ways to kick up feelings . Thus the second thing I realized was that:

2. Doing forgiveness work around one man, impacted my relationship with almost all the men in my life: It’s easier to forgive a ghost than a father you see everyday, or a former lover you run into every day, and what I think the universe was trying to tell me by putting me in these trying situations was that I can trust myself to take care of myself. I can trust myself enough to let go of hurt and still be solid, complete, strong, resilient…which brings me to my third lesson…

3. I am resilient enough to forgive: Intuitively, I think we believe that letting go makes us susceptible to being rehurt, but I’ve come to understand that it doesn.t When you forgive, you create a space between the person who as a “victim” and the person who currently exists.

See I didn’t do forgiveness work around my father, but I could have. We’ve got a long history of sarcastic comments and cunning remarks. Most of the time, we’re pretty funny, but sometimes they cut to deep – they bleed for years, they stain the carpets and the walls. We don’t know how to say we’re sorry to each other.

We both need to forgive. Every time a remark cuts too deeply, I am eight years old again and I am hurt. I am angry. Around 16 years old, I learned that I can be just as hurtful and quick-tonged. So, at 28, that’s often how we interact – I am perpetually a 16 year old, protecting her eight year old self.

That’s what happens when we don’t forgive. We walk around as wounded children in grown up bodies. We interact from a place of perpetual injury. Forgiveness separates us from our wounded self. Forgiveness lets us see that we’re not “there” anymore.

4. Forgiveness doesn’t make us vulnerable to attack; it sets us free.

I’ll say it again: I didn’t do forgiveness work around my dad, as I felt it more imperative to heal the resentments from my last relationships, but (in the process) I realized that a man, is a man, is a man…and daddy issues are a m*ther fu*cker. Letting go of one hurt allowed me to heal and deal with others. I am now responding to my father from my 28 year old mind and heart. This is a radical thing, I assure you…

Finally, in an awkward turn of events, my exboyfriend’s “lady friend” sought my guidance on some issues she was having with him. I’d never met this woman, and I was shocked she reached out. I was also a little taken aback by her…but her words, the level of urgency in her delivery, the sincerity I felt coming from her….reminded me of myself. And so I spoke to her with an open heart. I protected my ex’s privacy while trying to help this woman. When I tell this story, people ask me why I didn’t curse her out or ignore her? The truth is I absolutely couldn’t because I saw myself in her words and her questions. When I stopped being so angry at the ex, when I let go of the anger…there was compassion. I suddenly had compassion for him, for her…but mostly I had this overwhelming compassion for myself. Forgiving him allowed me to forgive myself. I didn’t realize it until I spoke to his home girl. I tried to tell her everything I wished someone would’ve told me (while respecting my ex’s privacy..which in itself is kind of huge). Helping her felt like I was helping myself. And so my final forgivness lesson was …

5. We are only ever in relationship with ourselves. Forgiving him was really self-forgiveness in disguise: When we hold on, we re-live. When we hold on we abuse ourselves. We hold ourselves captive and we are actively in the process of being unkind to ourselves. Forgiving someone else is truly a selfish act – if I’d known that I would’ve tried to do it sooner.

So those are my thoughts! Marianne Williamson’s 30 days of forgiveness was hard but worth it. Writing this reflection? Even harder, but I hope it inspires you to find forgiveness in your own way. I promise you…as someone on the other side (I use the term “other side” loosely, I’m not inviting this dude over for tea or anything…I just don’t hate him anymore)….you will see shifts.

I’m interested to hear from someone who tries it with someone whom they MUST interact with? I’d love to hear how that turns out…