November 12, 2010

forgiveness or death

I googled forgiveness. I really needed to. Forty and just now arrived at the implosive conclusion that I had to get divorced, I was at an emotional precipice in 2004. With two beloved daughters, only five and not quite eight years old, I could clearly see how far we all could fall if I didn’t get this just right. Only thanks to nearly twenty years of asking again and again, really, what is the truest truth I can honor was I barely able to admit to the uncomfortable fact that the only common denominator in all of my life’s suffering was… me. That no one else could release me from any suffering. That I could wring neither change nor retribution out of anyone, and that such more common efforts and explosions would change nothing anyway. That THE ONLY THING I could do to do this right was to change myself. To simply, and profoundly, let go of all pain… to forgive.  But HOW?

Six years ago, I felt so far away from forgiveness. I typed the word slowly, and desperately. Out into the farthest ether of electric words, my fingers were clawing around for a way, any way, to forgive.  It is so dark here!  I am so alone!  Please help me!  Anyone!!!

On that very first Google page, someone I will never know did help me. Someone I would have assumed that I could never forgive. Someone who folded his deeply considered truth into a shock of wings and reality, flew it out from between his own bars and changed my path, and my heart, forever. He offered this:

What Forgiveness Is:

Forgiveness is a form of realism. It allows us to see our lives as they really are, probably for the first time. It doesn’t deny, minimize, or justify what others have done to us, or the pain that we have suffered. It does, however, allow us to look squarely at old wounds and scars and see them for what they are. And it allows us to see how much energy we have wasted and how much we have damaged ourselves by not forgiving.

Forgiveness is a sign of positive self-esteem. It allows us to put the past into its proper perspective. We no longer identify ourselves by our past injuries and injustices. We are no longer victims. We claim the right to stop hurting when we say: “I’m tired of the pain, and I want to be healed.” At that moment, forgiveness becomes a possibility — although it may take time and much hard work before it is finally achieved.

Forgiveness is letting go of the past. Forgiveness doesn’t erase what happened, but it does allow you to lessen and hopefully eliminate the pain of the past. And more importantly, the pain from our past no longer dictates how we live in the present and can no longer determine our future.

Forgiveness is no longer wanting to punish those who hurt us. It means that we no longer want to get even, or spend time dreaming of how we will make them suffer for what they have done to us. It is realizing that we may never be able to “even the score” and that even if we did that nothing we do to punish them will help to heal us. It is discovering the inner peace that we feel when we just let go of the past and forget thoughts of vengeance.

Forgiveness is moving on. Forgiveness is in recognizing all that we have lost because of our refusal to forgive. It’s in realizing that the energy that we spent hanging on to the past is better spent on improving our present lives and our future. It’s letting go of the past so that we can move on.

Michael B. Ross

Death Row

Somers, CT

Isn’t it strangely beautiful? How the universe won’t release us from any agony until we let go of it ourselves? And isn’t it very beautiful, the blessed fact that there are so many ways on this earth—faiths, practices, words, rituals, and the examples of countless souls—with which we can let go? And go on? Any of us? And, I do mean any of us.

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