I went through many transitions in 2018. Change can be emotional and transformative. For me it was both. It was a constant wave. Crashing over and over and over and over. First, I left an art teaching job I had for five years. It was a challenging job with people I loved and students I adored. I grew into an art teacher at this school. My blood was purple and gold. I loved it so much that I gave too much of myself and needed a change. Leaving was hard. I felt I was abandoning my kids and letting down people. Starting my new job was no picnic either. Building new relationships is really hard. Then in November we found out that our two-year old dog had mouth cancer. This was heartbreaking. Our house became a hospice for our sweet pup until we had to put him to sleep. He was so full of love and joy until the end. I felt guilty for the times I took his presence for granted. I was thankful to be able to kiss him a lot and tell him I loved him before he left us. About two weeks after this, I found out I lost a very dear friend of mine to a sudden accident. She was also my long time therapist. I still regret missing my last appointment with her. It was the day after we let our dog go. I was drained. I forgot.
Elizabeth was more than my therapist. We had a unique happening of becoming close friends. I wish I could have stepped out of the client role sooner. I still needed a good therapist and she was already in-it-to-win-it with me. Our last appointment we even talked about traveling together. She was a brave courageous woman who spoke fluent French. She could probably go anywhere in the world in one long cool stride. Well, not anywhere hot, she hated the heat. Needless to say, I feel extremely guilty and sad for missing the appointment. Or any of the times I may have taken her for granted. This grief initiated a deeper reflection of my life. In the face of loss it can be easy to start cataloguing ALL your pain, loss, grief, guilt, shame, etc. It is easy to close your heart and become afraid. To hide away.
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I am currently trying to figure out how to propel myself forward. My energy is stifled. I am not ungrateful for my life. It is true that my past makes me into the person I am today, but tell that to the baggage my body is holding on to. I am trying not to become bitter or angry.
Letting go to what does not serve you is a purging process that is incredibly healthy, but unbearably hard.
I have let go of plenty of things. Items such as clothing, DVDs, memory boxes of letters and knickknacks I held dear. My heart has a little more trouble letting go of its severely outdated items. The ones that have caused me trauma, fear, insecurity, and doubt that have rooted deep inside my soul. So how do I let these go? How do I let go of these horrific memories or mistakes? The negative energy that feeds on my light? I have heard the solution is basic and yet very difficult. I can let go through forgiveness.
Wikipedia states that, “Forgiveness is the intentional and voluntary process by which a victim undergoes a change in feelings and attitude regarding an offense, let’s go of negative emotions such as vengefulness….”
“But sometimes I want them to suffer as much as I suffer” and “Sometimes I feel I deserve to suffer if I have made another suffer.”
Then you have not let go. You have not forgiven them. Or yourself.
This is where it gets complicated. What makes us human is that, at times, we fail to be our best. I have had many times when I have not lived up to my standard of integrity. It is easy to say, “I’m sorry” when something small happens like bumping into someone. What happens when the act is unforgivable? What if you never see the person ever again? Does it matter if we are human in these circumstances?
It is hard to process transition, transformation, and loss. They parallel and intersect and often become tangled up inside us. You must let it flow through you. Even knowing this, the process is extremely painful. You miss out on joy when you are in pain. I walk a line between “Dorothy, feel your feelings” and “Dorothy, get over yourself”. At times I can fall into a loop of self-suffering. This is where I have to stop tell myself. You deserve Joy. You deserve Forgiveness. You deserve to Let Go.
I am told that I have the choice to let go. That I am the one in control. I know that this is true. It sounds incredibly easy. The concept of letting go of something that is toxic. I love that idea. It sounds so refreshing to just box up all my traumas, errors, misfortunes and mistakes. I could take them to a second-hand store so someone else can deal with it. Please, take my heartache, insecurity, doubt, fear and all those negative patterns that have built up from my childhood to present day. Please, make them someone else’s lessons. I am so done with learning these lessons. They are way past their expiration date. Instead, I wear these memories like a really ugly itchy sweater that I hold onto, just in case. Letting it take up space. A reminder of all those painful memories. Memories of people who have failed me, who have left me, and of times when I left and failed myself or others. I have a suitcase full of cries for help that I lug around in my soul. These items make me so exhausted and heavy. I am ready to let them go.
To err is Humane; to Forgive, Divine.
I have been trying to reflect on what forgiveness really means. What it means for others and what it means for me. What does it look like to give or receive forgiveness? It is a harder topic than I would have imagined to write about. There are so many degrees of pain and suffering. It truly is not a human trait to just forgive. Because I am not divine. I am human.
Are we Monsters? How could we do such a thing? Because of our feelings, desperation, fear, or abandonment? Because it felt good, or we didn’t mean for it to happen, because we wanted to? Because we are only surviving at being human.
So ask yourself, “Did I hurt someone in the process?” Yes.
“Did I care that I hurt them?” That answer is probably yes too.
“Did I intentionally or maliciously hurt someone?” Of course not.
“Did I care enough to stop?” No. Unfortunately I did not.
“Did I learn or grow from this?” I hope so.
The concept of forgiving is a practice. Or a delusion. Forgiveness of others is truly an art. You never forget. You have to recalculate your being. Transform into something else. To place the pain in the past and leave it there. Even if it scary. Stay positive. Center yourself. Let Go and Forgive the situation.This is self-love.
I have a hard time forgiving myself. I know insecurity is due to fear of oneself. As a human we naturally seek out our flaws. I am an empath, so my feelings run deep. Therefore I deepen my flaws. This makes it hard to see that I am worthy of my own forgiveness. I deserve forgiveness. This is also self-love.
GratitudeI know through hard work and building of relationships I have a wonderful life. I have had a great many hardships in my lifetime, but I know that I would not have been able to go through this alone. I have had legions of amazing people come into my life, if only for a brief time, to contribute to my experiences. I am not ungrateful. Through grief and pain you must reflect on moments where you felt safe and loved. You must appreciate even the smallest of life’s joys. This may be the food you are eating or the roof over your head. Acknowledging the simplicity of life eases the pain of it. There is too much joy to hold onto suffering. You do not have to forgive the person, but you can forgive the situation. You may not be given words of forgiveness, but that does not mean you do not deserve joy. Be thankful for what you have and be gentle on yourself. Set yourself free.
Losing Elizabeth has made me look at loss and pain differently. It has made me examine the small things I appreciate in life, like breathing. Through my current grief of her loss I marvel of how lucky I was to have found such an amazing and compassionate person. I am trying to reflect on love and forgiveness for myself and others through this. I know there is freedom in letting go. I learned this from her. I know I deserve it.
Elizabeth was intelligent, hilarious, an amazing therapist and my friend. She read my heart the first day we met. She could see that I tried to not let my past control me and that I did not want my life to be led by my mistakes. I was honored when she said we should be friends, even after I told her EVERYTHING about my life. I was more honored when she stayed by my side to help me heal. I know she would not be mad that I missed my last appointment. She would console me now if she could. She appreciated any time we had together.
Hanging onto hurt poisons our minds. I am working on cleansing my soul. You may not be someone I know anymore. Perhaps we will never talk again. So if my life abruptly ends today, I would like to say I am sorry I had to leave unexpectedly. I am sorry if I ever let you down. I am sorry if I let myself down. I hope we can work through the shame, guilt and anger of what happened. I wish for us to let go and set ourselves free.
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Art Teacher, Artist, Light Seeker, Writer, Human
The art of being happy lies in the power of extracting happiness from common things. ~Henry Ward Beecher
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