I recognized the walls that I once made
I had to stop in my tracks for fear
Of walking on the mines I’d laid
~ Sting: Fortress Around Your Heart
We all do it – build those walls around our heart so that we will never hurt again. It seems logical, but the outcome is actually the reverse…those walls store the hurt within us and we spend our lives tiptoeing <<compulsively!>> around the hurt, and in so doing we no longer experience the spontaneity of life.
Yet, once we re-visit the hurt, which is never as painful as we imagine, we discover that true forgiveness is a very selfish act for it returns those precious parts of us that we abandoned: our joy, our love, our faith in the decency of human beings.
Reflected Upon Me
During one of my forays into a pain-filled-castle, in which I had stored the most painful wounds of my life, I found a room which surprised me. This room not only held the memories of my hurt, but it reflected upon me all the hurt which I had inflicted on others. As I stood within this room and felt my deepest pain mingle with the hurt I inflicted, I wept. I did not understand the ways I harmed others, until I understood my own pain.
This was the moment of great humility that I spoke of in my first blog on Forgiveness. I was no longer able to blame or shame others for their actions, for I too was a messy human that harmed others.
Lion? or Lamb.
My initial response to this realization was revulsion of myself. How could I harm others when I knew how badly it hurt? How could I be so arrogant as to judge others when I too was ‘that person’? The lion within me that harshly judged ‘that person’, now harshly judged me.
At first, I looked for a way to continue judging others so I reflected upon the immense betrayals and wounds that others inflicted upon me and compared them to my own actions that wounded others, there did not seem to be any comparison, mine were not near as egregious…but, then…I do not know how deeply others felt the wounds I inflicted…so, how can I say who is ‘worse’?
In this space of reflection, I felt my own wounds and surmised that others may feel the same; it was a moment of clarity as I began to understand the complexity of being human; I was the victim, I was the perpetrator, I was wounded, I had wounded, I was innocent, I was guilty.
This clarity brought my judgmental lion to rest beside me as a lamb, and I began to lick my own wounds, along with those I inflicted.
Healing Myself, Healing Others
It never occurred to me that by healing my own wounds I might offer healing to others. Well, this is a bit of a stretch, I cannot heal others, but I can take responsibility for wounds I inflicted, whether I acted maliciously or innocently; I own them all.
So, I began to assess the damage I had inflicted upon family, friends, lovers…and when I felt it was appropriate I offered an apology for my actions. Some of my apologies were in person, others were tucked into a card and mailed, a few were via email and a small portion were simply to the universal Divinity that transmits apologies when it is not wise to engage with a certain person.
A sincere apology is more than words.
My first journey into true forgiveness was the longest, the hardest and most painful. I felt lost and confused many times, I kept thinking that it should not be so difficult. But, looking back, I realize that I was ‘learning to walk’ and so I stumbled and fell down, quite a few times.
Now, when something in my life triggers an old wound, I may feel a few moments of that initial freshly-stung hurt, but it passes, mostly I experience something I never expected, gratitude; instead of feeling the old hurt, the trigger is often a gracious reminder that I have resolved the past, and the pain. I can live, free from the fear of pain.
This is the part of the journey where we begin living in the here and now. After having re-visited all our painful places, having practiced and practiced standing in ‘that persons’ shoes and releasing our desire for Justice, having reflected on the hurt we caused others and sought forgiveness, and having bathed in humility at the complexity of humans, we discover a web of jewels that is messy, beautiful, terrifying and precious.
Indra’s Web of jewels, reflecting back upon each other.
The story of Indra’s Web is a long one so I will only share the main premise. Life is comprised of individual beings, each a sparkling jewel contained within an enormous web that connects and cascades into One jewel; one affects All.
Try gently touching one slender thread of a spider’s web without causing the rest of the web to vibrate: impossible! Try placing a dot on one jewel without causing the rest of the jewels to reflect the dot: impossible!
Our individual actions reverberate throughout Indra’s web and affect ALL other beings.
<<which is the main premise behind my Thoughtful Thursday endeavor; we are individual, we are a Web>>
So, as you move through this journey of true forgiveness, remember that your healing will bless those near plus those far, far from you; those which you may never see or know.
The words I have written on the topic of true forgiveness are offered with a blessing from deep within my heart because this was one of the most difficult journey’s of my life.
There are many people who cannot understand why this journey was so difficult for me, simply because they have not been harmed or betrayed in a manner that undermines one’s ability to believe in humanity…if this is you, you are blessed!
I wish you continued peace.
If you read these words and know all-too-well the challenges of recovering your joy, your love, your faith in the decency of human beings, this wish is for you.