What are you forgiveness? What do you really mean? How do I embody you?
It has become apparent to me, in my explorations on this potent but rather misunderstood word, that forgiveness, like love, is in fact a verb. It requires action. It doesn’t happen to you. There is no voilá, I am free of my resentments and no longer a victim.
Rather, it is a conscious and actionable choice, a tender process of releasing oneself from anger/hate/grief - and comfort really - because as contradictory as it may seem, our resentments are familiar and so they are comforting. Sometimes the letting go feels scarier than the trauma itself. Our trauma is the badge we wear, we have identified with it and the question then becomes, who are we without it?
In my explorations around binary thinking, I started to move away from the intense polarity of good/ bad, dark/ light and realised that both were necessary parts of the whole. As I stepped outside of my attachment to my personal pain body, I realised that what had happened to me, was firstly more common than I realised, and was often a result of a pain that had happened to the person who hurt me. This is not to excuse what had happened, but rather to expand my thinking and witness the very many wounded humans that continue to pass trauma on, generation after generation. Epigenetic's are now proving that trauma is indeed genetically inherited.
In this journey of healing, one of the hardest acts is forgiving ourselves. I remember reading somewhere that forgiveness is acceptance and acceptance is freedom. I recently wrote a letter to an ex where I decided to make the conscious choice to not hold onto my disappointment and to release my expectations. I needed to admit where I had been afraid and take full responsibility for my choice to leave. I did this for myself. Because when I do not forgive, I feel tired. I feel constricted. I feel contained. I want to feel expansive. I want to feel free. I want to open my heart again and so I wrote to him,
I am sorry.
Please forgive me.
I love you.
This prayer is from the Hawaaian Ho'oponopono teachings and is simple, profound wisdom. Writing it brings me straight into my heart and I can feel my wet eyes glisten.
Hawaiians consider it to be a sacred and effective practice to create love, peace, and happiness in one’s daily life. It is defined in the Hawaiian Dictionary as, “setting it right; to make right; to correct; to restore and maintain good relationships in a family, and in supernatural powers.”
When we choose to let go with love and approach a situation in this way, we become right with our offenders (who are really our teachers) and we become right with ourselves. Some may think this unjust or unfair, especially if our story is one of great trauma, but when we dig under every story there is another story that lies just underneath. A story about the person who was wronged and who wronged again because they did not have someone to hold their hand or the space to work through their wrongs. Whether we are conscious of it or not, we all carry trauma and the gift is that we are living in a time where there are so many beautiful tools and people available, if we so choose it. It is time for us to defrost the frozen emotions of our past. Traumas that some of us have been carrying as excess baggage for centuries and centuries.
I believe forgiveness starts the melting process. As we melt, we may find that there are emotions that have been stuck inside our bodies. Buried deep, left to freeze or sit stagnant, smelly and dis-ease creating. Emotions require motion, the waters must flow. Keeping these traumas frozen requires energy, leaving us feeling exhausted, depleted, hopeless.
The other night I sat with a friend and we spoke about the range of emotions. I am a strong advocate for rage. Rage is sacred and I believe strongly that women, in particular, need safe space to express their anger. My friend disagreed and I could feel his resistance to making space for his partner's rage. He believed her anger was threatening and that there was a more mindful and 'spiritual' way to 'overcome' her emotions. I felt my body respond in contraction, remembering a time when my partner called my expression of anger "abusive." As we unraveled the conversation and I explained how necessary anger had been in my journey of healing, he began to uncover why he was feeling so resistant. He said anger did not feel safe and so it was uncomfortable for him to allow his partner to be in her rage. He was concerned what her rage would activate in him. What he was really afraid of was his own unfelt rage.
I have complete respect and compassion for my friend because I know too well this feeling. This work of expressing emotions is sticky and we must have clear communications with those who are present or holding space for us. There must be consent from both sides and there must be boundaries. Many of us suppress our anger because we worry what will happen if the lid is lifted. Will we be able to control it? Anger can be very threatening. But what is more threatening is denying its place because when the lid does eventually pop, the explosion can be far more damaging.
This is because anger has a lot of power. Yes, my anger empowered me.
Why? Because without acknowledging that I was fucking angry at what had happened to me. Angry at the people who had wronged me. I would never have taken any action. I had felt sad, I had cried myself to sleep many times, I had been miserable, even depressed. But my sadness kept me stuck. Kept me in victimhood. When I finally met my rage it was as if the fire inside finally began to flicker. I was moved into movement. I remember being in California at the time and having a full-body awakening to my rage. I was riding on a bicycle and pumping loud, explicit hip hop lyrics into my ears while screaming down Venice Boulevard. I must’ve looked like a proper nutter - yes, they do call me Nutters for a reason. And you know what, I did not give a F***K. I had tears strolling down my cheeks, probably a lot of snot too, and was just screaming (busting out some rap lines), crying, letting go of all this rage that I had bottled up for as long as I can remember. I felt more alive than I had felt in years. And I knew, something had shifted. I had accepted that I had been wronged. I had accepted that this had happened. And I was giving myself permission to be angry about it. I was allowing myself to feel absolutely fucking furious. I went swimming in the ocean that day and realised how profoundly healing anger was. And so when my friend admitted that he was blocking his partner’s rage because he was afraid of his own rage, (and then covering it with a light and love story on healing) I observed very cleverly how we can spiritually bypass the deeper work. It reminded me of the times I witnessed the "non-violent communication" movement get twisted into a stoic danger zone, further silencing the sacred rage of the feminine. “Non-violent communication can be violent.“ – Angela Sumner Angela is a real badass witch that sheds light on the dark and is unapologetic about her expression of rage, follow @angelasumner_ to spice up your life. She showed up with her rawness right when I was living through an intense period of gaslighting from an ex who used spiritual tools as tactics of manipulation - ie. using NVC to suppress my Bitch Archetype from awakening.
He would call me words such as 'abusive' and out of control (yes, the "too much" bitch). And his continuing to silence me would just turned me into an even crazier witch! Haha - I knew this was not about him though, it was a necessary journey of letting die the 'Nice Girl' archetype. Part of the beauty of anger, you see, is that the little good girl that got taken advantage of, she goes right to sleep and the Bitch, who is not afraid to speak her boundaries, she wakes up.
If you are feeling angry - honey, there is a reason for it. Something inside of you is being triggered and is wanting to be acknowledged. The feminine in her wildness and rawness has been suppressed for centuries. We were just in a covert and rather chilling way. Of course, I am not advocating for us to all go around screaming at one another and, as Angela says, “spew our childhood traumas and past life tortures onto people” and call that healthy expression. What we can, and must do, however, is ALLOW ourselves to feel the full range of our emotions. The full expression of the wild and untamed *woman. Become aware of the times that you are feeling constricted in your body (controlled) because that may very well lead to violence - an internal violence that implodes and kills the voice of your inner knowing. The part of you that is screaming for you to listen. The part of you that knows the truth even though everyone around you is telling you otherwise. We have to see and feel and taste and smell the ‘good,’ the ‘bad,’ the destructive and the constructive. Life, death, rebirth. I keep coming back round to this very simple law of nature. Without rage (which is fire), which is destruction, there is no death and without death, there is no rebirth. And as we are one with nature (not just a kumbaya thing to say), we too experience these cycles within our own lives. And so I invite you to let your anger light the fire to your own death so you too may experience rebirth. Because rebirth is forgiveness. And forgiveness is freedom. When I accepted my fate and my souls choice to go through these experiences in my life, that is all they became. Experiences. Trainings for my warrior spirit to feel and expand and die and be reborn. I am no longer attached to the story and to the need for revenge or justice. I unlock the cage around my body and soul and focus on what beauty is to be made of this suffering. What life and art is to be birthed from this death? From my forgiving heart to yours, A.M *Woman includes man. By its very etymology: Fe(male). Wo(men) - When I say woman. I am speaking to man too. <3