I believe that my journey to healing began when I decided to leave my abusive marriage and started over as a single mother of three beautiful kids. I had enough of all the drama in my life and had no intentions on raising my daughters in an abusive environment. It wasn’t easy and, contrary to what I though, it was only the beginning of a long road towards healing and recovery.
The first years after I left were quite difficult, I received no child support and had 2 kids in daycare. I had to work 60hr/week as a nurse to make ends meet. I also had to pay lawyer fees as I went through a nasty divorce riddled with lies and deceit. As I had feared, I turned to drugs and alcohol to numb the pain, addictions I had struggled with since my early
teenage years. It was hard but I kept going and things eventually did get better. After a few years, we signed a settlement and he was eventually deported. As I fought through the divorce and finally faced the person who had dragged me down for 12 years, I became much stronger and my self-esteem hit the roof.
It felt so confident and empowered, I was ready to conquer the world so I took on new roles. I started my own business and stopped drinking and smoking, I became a union steward at work and joined the parents school council. As I helped others ensure that their rights were being respected, I added value to myself. Everything was going so well, but slowly but surely, the alcohol and smoking settled back into my life. I worked on my personal growth constantly, reading and attending conventions on leadership, business, finances and success. I did grow a lot indeed but at some point, I hit a wall. I knew my addictions were crippling my growth but I didn’t have the willpower to let them go. Why was I so inclined to help those in need around me yet acted in ways which were so detrimental to myself? I couldn’t make any sense of it all, it seems as though I loved others more then I loved myself.
My actions didn’t show it but deep inside I did love myself and so, in April of this year, I decided to get myself a life coach. I embarked on the journey of discovering who I really was and why I acted how I did. It was a self study, I returned to my childhood to learn unlearn and relearn the tools that had helped me cope as a child but were actually detrimental to my present. One of the most important things I learnt about through my adventure was how crucial of a role forgiveness plays into how our lives turn out.
Forgiveness is the master key to the door of freedom and peace of mind, without it we can never move forward and therefore remain prisoners of our past making it happen over and over again. I grasped that as long as I didn’t cut off the ropes that were holding me down, I would never be able to reach my full potential and live the life of my dreams. Everyone has different pasts, but one thing we all have in common is pain. Pain from events or people
that have hurt us and caused injuries that can not be seen on the outside. Unless we forgive, we will keep touching our wounds and so they will never have the chance to heal.
For me, the people that had hurt me the most were the 3 most iconic men in my life; my grand father, my father and my ex-husband which is also the father of my 3 kids. My grand father sexually abused me between the ages of 3-5 which has caused tremendous damage in my life. My father,who I was very close to at the time, did not believe me when I opened up about the abuse at the age of 5 and who also has mostly not been involved in my life since my parents separated when I was 8. Last but not least, I had to forgive my ex-husband who was emotionally and physically abusive towards my daughters and I.
I studied forgiveness by reading about it, mostly I enjoyed looking up new quotes. I was amazed to see that all my favorite role models praised it. Contrary to what I formally though, forgiveness is the attribute of the courageous and the strong, and not a weakness. As a humanitarian, I realized that without forgiveness, there can never be peace and that with it everything is possible when it comes to humanity. It is imperative to shed light on the fact that forgiving doesn’t mean forgetting and surely doesn’t excuse the behaviors that caused the pain.
I have to admit that tackling forgiveness is one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life but I wasn’t going to and still refuse to give up. I sat down with myself and reflected for hours literally and I wrote each one of them a letter; uncensored, real and to the point letters. I let all the anger out, I cried and I felt alive. I let the emotions flow through, a huge weight was removed from my shoulders.
Another good exercise I did was to remember the good things/times. We humans have tendencies to focus on the bad and forget about the good so I decided to write about the positive things that these men brought into my life. The result was amazing and made me aware of how everything happens for a reason, and how life is a constant lesson. These days I try to see the good in every situation and when I feel angry and hurt I go back to review that assignment.
There are many ways to work though forgiveness, yours may differ from mine. One thing is for sure, forgiveness is not a one time thing, it is a process. You will have to forgive over and over again, and forgive not only the past but also the present and the future. Just like a muscle, the more you practice it, the stronger and better you will get until it becomes a natural part of you.
I use to think that personal growth was all about moving forward but now I know that before you do so, you must go backwards and fix the issues of your past. I can say that forgiveness was, and still is, a break through for me. Today, I am doing so much better and I have taken complete control over my life. I feel amazing and unstoppable. I am on a
mission to create programs to help others who are also prisoner’s of their past and survivors of the present. I will bring awareness, support and will advocate to heal the wounded.
As you can see, so much good comes out of forgiving others. There is one miracle that stood out more then others on my journey, it happen automatically as I started to forgive. It was incredibly relieving and I felt as though I could finally breath again, it was…
to be continued in ‘Part 2 of Forgiveness’…