Forgive! Are you Crazy?

When we forgive, we set a prisoner free and discover

that the prisoner we set free is us.”

Lewis Smedes

The prompting for this post was a discussion of sorts on my friend’s blog. http://www.morningpageswriter.wordpress.com  Monsters of Our Childhood … last evening.  I can’t remember all the comments but it was about finding forgiveness for those that have abused us in horrible ways as children or adults.

I never even thought about forgiving the people who had abused me, raped me, given me away, caused me pain…the list is endless.  I was so filled with pain and disbelief in human nature that when someone said to me, “Someday, you will need to forgive them and move on,” I wanted to shoving their words down their throat.  How could I possible forgive.  I was handed over at birth with no name, no thought, no love.  Handed over to live in a nursery probably not even held for who knows how long and then fostered by a middle-aged couple for two years as they waited for a boy, which was what they wanted.  If a boy became available I would be “sent back”.  They finally settled.  She, not wanting children at all and he, wanting a boy to fish and hunt with.

They settled and I paid the price.

Forgive!  Are you crazy?  I’m given away only to be abused by strangers who didn’t want me in the first place.

Raped and nearly beaten to death, not once, but several times and you want me to forgive?

I could go on and on with the specifics which, now are just that…specifics.  It doesn’t matter how much has been done to me, with me, around me anymore.  I set out on a journey to heal and to heal I knew I would have to forgive and let go of the past.  I know the exact moment it began.

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The word is where we all get stuck, especially if you were indoctrinated as many of us were in religions where everything was our fault since we were born sinners anyway and meant to spend the rest of our lives atoning for our sins.  We were taught/brainwashed to believe that we deserved everything we got or at least I was.

If I fell and scraped my knee, I deserved it.  If I spent a night licking my wounds from words and hand mirrors, it was because i deserved it.

 Of course, then when I was first raped at 16, in my head I could hear her words, “Well, look what you were wearing, you are a child of Satan.  What do you expect.”

 When I was critically ill in the hospital at 17, I could smell her breath as she leaned over droplets of spit landing on my face and said, “Go ahead and die.  You weren’t meant to be born anyway.  You don’t deserve to be here.  You are dead to us.”

Forgive?  You want ME to FORGIVE?

I wish someone had said to me years ago, “You don’t have to forgive.  Forgiveness is for them.  Letting go is for you.  When you’ve expressed enough anger, enough sadness, enough fear, then you’ll be ready to think about letting go.”

If you remember nothing else, remember that.

The truth is that yes, forgiveness sets you free and yes, I did forgive and have compassion for her now.

Forgiveness is a form of realism.  It doesn’t deny, minimize or justify what others have done to us nor the pain we have suffered because of it.  What it does is encourage us to look squarely at those old wounds and see them for what they are.  It allows us to see just how much energy we have wasted and how we have damaged ourselves by not forgiving.

Forgiveness is an internal process.  There is no forcing it and it sure doesn’t come easy no matter what you call it.  What it does do, is bring a great feeling of wellness and freedom.

Forgiveness/letting go means we no longer identify ourselves by our past injuries and injustices.  We are no longer Victims.  We can claim that right to stop hurting when we say we are tired of the pain and want to heal.  At that moment, forgiveness/letting go becomes a possibility.  We no longer want to punish those who hurt us, the pain from the past will no longer dictate how we live in the present, nor will it dictate our future.

Part of the healing is finding our own voices, speaking our truth, being vulnerable and courageous and writing blogs and books, speaking out loud our long-held secrets.  Dig through this layer and you will rescue your heart.

 This will be one of the most difficult parts of our journey only because our Ego doesn’t want to let go of the power that comes from being wronged.

Read that one again and again…

As long as we feel hurt and damaged we give ourselves the right to blame and judge.  We are the Victims.  Ego can point the finger and feel a certain power.  The Ego has to be put on the shelf for this one.  Forgiveness is an act of compassion but it doesn’t mean we forget.  It just means that there’s no longer an emotional charge from remembering.  It’s a gift to yourself.

You are worth having such a gift

Vulnerability and Shame……FINDING HEART HORSE COVER REVEAL

So, I couldn’t figure out how to incorporate the video into the post so it came first.

 The beginning of shame because I didn’t research how to do it!

I’ve been thinking a lot about vulnerability and shame.  I think, in particular because as you know, I’m getting ready to do my cover reveal for FINDING HEART HORSE.  I just approved the galley text as well which means the book goes off to print.  I have the Hay House Radio Interview and the Video Release next as well and THEN…..THEN…it’s all real.  I will hear it, see it, hold it and be it.

This is where the vulnerability and shame comes in. Intellectually, I know I am stronger because of the life I have lived, the suffering I have endured, the traumas experienced and yet…to share that in the public is one of the most frightening things I can think of.

I have listened to Brene’ Brown’s TED talks dozens of times and the number will go up as the release date gets closer.  She nails it.  She makes it clear that the only way is to just do it.  Put it out there, be courageous and vulnerable.  I so believe her, yet I still feel so vulnerable and shame sneaks in around the edges.

As I re read my galley text and take myself to the place of that young girl it breaks my heart.  She was so vulnerable and filled with shame at such a young age and it shattered her spirit and stuck with her…until she became me, sitting here writing this post.

Shame can be unbearable.  We can equate it with being worthless, unlovable, unredeemable.  It can fill us with terror that we will be abandoned yet again, fragmented, or overwhelmed with despair.  Adoptee’s are born with this ingrained.  That is not to say other’s don’t experience it as well, just that we are hardwired.

“If distress is the affect of suffering, shame is the affect of indignity, transgression and of alienation.  Though terror speaks to life and death and distress makes of the world a vale of tears, yet shame strikes deepest into the heart of man….shame is felt as inner torment, a sickness of the soul …the humiliated one feels himself naked, defeated, alienated, lacking in dignity and worth”

  Silvan Tomkins-1992

Shame really represents an entire family of emotions: humiliation, embarrassment, feelings of low self-esteem, belittlement and stigmatization.  Shame is often a central ingredient in the experience of being.  It can show its ugly face physically or in defence mechanisms because it interferes with our ability to think clearly.

As I was reading I was also thinking how people will judge.  I fully expect that..There is purpose behind my telling my story.  I survived.  I want others to know they can too.  Go ahead and judge.. because quite frankly, I don’t give a damn.  I did what i did in order to survive.

Many adoptees will recognize themselves in my book. Others that come from various walks of life will as well. The journey of searching for self.  The devastation and pain that arrives when you discover your own mother didn’t want you enough to fight to keep you.  Most lost daughters and sons tried to cope the best way they knew how.  The pain and despair is unbearable, even tho’ at the time you don’t recognize where it’s coming from. 

In my life, I ran from abuse at the tender and naive age of 15.  That automatically put me into the place of vulnerability.  Vulnerability is scary, even now.  But it’s also a place of power and authenticity.

I lived  a life of risk back then and still do now.  Having gone through “reunion” and placing myself in the most painful experience of my life, i know now, vulnerability is also the centre, the core and heart of meaningful human experience.  Just as Brene’ Brown says, its a place of uncertainty and emotional exposure with an unknown outcome.  It’s opening your heart wide knowing rejection may be the result.

As soon as I post my cover to FINDING HEART HORSE the external journey begins.  Of course, I’ve had people write reviews, and editors to critique.  Those are the warm up experiences because just sharing with them leaves me in a vulnerable place and embarrassed by the life I led.

I learned through reunion, being so vulnerable and open can also be very painful.  One needs trust when you are in a vulnerable place.  People need to earn the right to hear our stories.  It takes courage to show the battle wounds.  To open your heart knowing it may get stomped on.  Courage=Vulnerabilty

Brene’ Brown concludes about daring greatly:

“And, without question, putting ourselves out there means there’s a far greater risk of feeling hurt.  But as I look back on my own life and what Daring Greatly has meant to me, I can honestly say that nothing is as uncomfortable, dangerous, and hurtful as believing that I’m standing on the outside of my life looking in and wondering what it would be like if I had the courage to show up and let myself be seen.”

And so..with her words behind me, and in me just like an ear worm I embrace my vulnerability and shame and will walk through the doors with my book in hand being held up by courage.

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