The TOOLS: Tool #2 - The Path of Tears
See also: : The Pattern Pages: Guilt/Blame
|We set the intention to forgive with our minds, and we build the house of intent of love.|
But then we allow our true feelings to express within those safe walls.
True forgiveness can only be achieved through evolution of the damaged soul.
|WHEN OTHERS HAVE HURT US ...|
When someone hurts you...
- Cry your pain
- Cry your heartbreak
- Cry your rage
- Cry your grief
- Cry your terror
- Confronting an abuser from the past rarely solves anything. It certainly doesn't heal anything. There's only one way to heal your wounds. (See the above list.)
- If someone is actively abusing you in the now, heal as much as you can and leave the situation without confrontation if possible. There is no need to fight with them, or try to get them to change their behavior. You may want to state your boundaries, and you may want to let them know that their treatment of you hurt you. But usually this just turns into an argument about what they did (or didn't do) or how wrong they are, or how crazy or wrong you are, etc. etc. It's usually best to just leave.
- There will be situations where you know the person who hurt you will never ask you for forgiveness. This is a source of pain in itself. The original thing they did that hurt you is one pain. But feeling like they don't care about your feelings enough to make it right with you is another heartbreak. Rage then wants to hammer on them, to make them see how they have hurt you, to make them CARE. But there may be times when you have to accept that they don't. Then, all you can do is cry your own hurt, and just let them go.
- The most important thing about forgiving others is -- you can't just choose to forgive. Forgiveness is a feeling. It's an absence of pain and anger and blame, but it's also acceptance and love and understanding. Forgiveness without these elements is not truly forgiveness. It's just lip service.
We receive quite a lot of pressure in our culture to "be forgiving". But every child on every playground knows that "making nice" and "saying sorry", really means "FAKING nice". If we hold grudges or stay angry when somebody says they're sorry, we're judged as hard-hearted or unloving. But the truth is, until the hurt and anger are completely healed, it's not possible to really FEEL forgiveness for the person who caused the hurt. The only way to get to real forgiveness, is to cry through all the pain. And then forgiveness is reached naturally, unforced, and at the deepest heart levels. You may still choose not to be around the person. You may need to stay safely away from them. But you feel love and understanding for them, and accept that they are where they are.
When You Can't Forgive...
There have been times when just the *thought* of forgiving my abuser brought up such rage that I thought I'd explode.
There have been times when I have been SURE that it was impossible to forgive.
There have been times when my rage felt totally justified in staying angry forever.
If you've been badly hurt, I know you know what I mean.
But what you must know is that the powerful feeling of rage is covering over a bunch of other feelings - fear, heartbreak, vulnerability, betrayal - and all those feelings need to be healed. Not for the abuser. Not in order to forgive him/her, but for you. Pain unmoved is a poison in the system. Pain unmoved can build and eventually fragment, and you lose a part of yourself.
What often happens is that we start working through the pain, and we hit this wall of rage that seems to go on forever. We cry and cry and cry and the rage never seems to heal. Even if we say that we have conscious intent to heal, something within is holding onto the rage, refusing to let go. And when that happens, no matter how much rage you cry, you will never get past the wall. You will never be able to connect with the deeper feelings.
Rage gives us a false sense of power over the pain. It masks the pain of feeling helpless and hurt. We cannot find our REAL power until all the feelings have been healed. In order to get past this particular wall, we have to "cross the pattern". We have to interrupt the ragey spinning, and we have to interrupt it at a deep heart level. We must set an intention to find forgiveness for our abuser. When we set that intention - and when we mean it - we interrupt the record that is playing on auto-loop, and then we are able to reach down into the layers of pain beneath the rage to find complete healing. Actually, interrupting the pattern will be the hardest part. Once you have successfully crossed the pattern, you'll know it because your feelings will come bubbling up, erupting like a volcano. You may feel like you're vomiting pain, spewing out toxic waste through your tears, out of control. Try to let yourself go with this process, and just cry as long and as deeply as you can. This is the explosion of all that's been held down behind the rage wall. And this is the stuff that needs healing so you can reach your own completeness and power.
|WHEN WE HAVE HURT OTHERS ...|
There are 7 elements involved in forgiveness of the self (not necessarily in this order):
- Owning what you've done.
This is the beginning of bringing acceptance to the situation and the step that requires the most courage. We start by admitting to it, and looking at it honestly. Feeling the feelings involved, ALL the feelings, not just shame at having done it.
- Making a commitment not to do it again.
This is the beginning of bringing love to the situation. Heart is extremely sensitive to the hurts of others, and is wounded by every heartless act, including our own. Broken hearts armor up or fragment away. When we commit to behaving differently, we help our heart feel safe to come back home, and come out of its self-protective armor. We set an intention to bring love to the situation. Of course, it's never just as simple as setting the intention. There is still much healing work to be done.
- Healing the cause.
All the parts of us that are not inside the circle of loving acceptance have the potential to be perpetrators, heartless, cruel, blind to pain in others, etc. People are only "safe" or "trustworthy" as much as they have themselves healed. Since nobody is 100% healed and whole, nobody is 100% trustworthy. We all have parts that we would not want to own, that have done truly awful heartless things. That does not mean we are bad people. It does not mean that those parts are bad. We must allow ALL our parts to cry through their rage and terror and grief, to fully heal and come back within the circle. When they're healed, they won't act out in cruel ways anymore. This is the only way we can truly become trustworthy.
- Healing the shame.
Real shame can be cried. Remorse shows that you have heart present in the situation. This can be cried and healed. However, shame and remorse are not the same as guilt. Guilt is a false feeling, a pressue, a judgment. It hooks itself onto our real feelings of shame or self-hate, and then acts like a critical voice that actually keeps us spinning in thoughts of self-recrimination and self-blame. Spinning in thought will never heal the feelings. And that's the point. Guilt does not want us to reach self-forgiveness. If you find yourself spinning in guilt-driven critical-thought spirals, you need to try to stop thinking altogether. Take it to the mat. Guilt cannot be cried. So, let the feelings come up as raw, visceral feelings, and get the tears flowing. Then shame will heal, and guilt will have no home within you, no hook to attach itself to, and no tool to beat you with.
- Forgiving one's self.
This is where love and acceptance are naturally born, once the previous steps have been completed. You cannot just jump to self-forgiveness. You can set an intention to forgive yourself, which will open the doors to owning what you've done, etc, etc. But until you have healed the cause and gained the understanding of all the parts that have acted out in their denial, you won't find true self-forgiveness.
- Getting the forgiveness from the ones we hurt.
This is an important step, but not always an easy one. Many people don't ask for forgiveness because it feels like groveling. They fear the other person will attack them or make them "eat dirt" to pay for what they did. If you feel afraid or reluctant to ask forgiveness, then you can be pretty sure you still have shame or guilt held inside, unhealed. Asking for forgiveness is not groveling. It is our heart, reaching out and trying to make things right with the person we hurt. Heart always wants to bridge gaps. Always. And when you have healed all your shame and all the other feelings involved, heart is born in that place where the pain was. When heart is born there, you become parental to your own acts. Then Heart can reach out without shame. You can take responsibility without self-flagellation. You take responsibility for what you have done, without excuse, without kow-towing, and without guilt.
If you're finding yourself feeling defensive, you're still not ready to ask for forgiveness. This is a sign you have guilt sitting on unhealed shame. When the shame is fully healed, you don't have to defend. You admit to what you've done. You can explain why you did it, if they're open to hearing it. But the feelings of defensiveness won't be there.
Most importantly, you let them know that you feel for their pain, and have committed to not hurting them in that way ever again. You don't have to grovel, or let them abuse you (which is where guilt would try to take you). If they need to express their pain and anger, you can listen to it, as much as you are able, as much as feels good to you. You may need to set boundaries around this however. Verbal abuse heals nothing. If they will cry with you, if they can reach ignition, THEN you have truly begun bridging the gap and that is true pure gold.
This step is valuable even if you believe you have done nothing wrong. If you feel the other person is hurt or angry with you unjustly, you can still make an apology from the heart that does not make you or them wrong. You can simply say, "I'm sorry you're hurting." Or, "I'm sorry my actions hurt you. I didn't mean to hurt you." However, since we all have parts in a state of denial that might be acting out a covert agenda, it's not usually possible to say with 100% certainty that 100% of you didn't want the person to be hurt. In that case, you can say something like "I didn't consciously want you to be hurt. If I have parts that DO want you hurt, I will look at that and I promise to heal it."
- Getting divine forgiveness (from Father/Mothergod).
Believing that Divine forgiveness is always there for us is very hard. We all carry a deeply embedded, bone/marrow-level belief that we are here, cut off from spirit and light, because we are bad, because there is something wrong with us. We believe, in our marrow, that we are unforgiveable. These feelings need to be cried too, but it's sometimes the most difficult thing to bring to the surface because its so closely tied in with our survival. The marrow imprint that says we are unforgiveable, also says that if we touch that place of pain, if we show how unforgiveable we feel, we'll have to admit that it's true, and then we'll have to die. So we avoid this place, much like the ways we avoid our own self-hate. Opening to the love of the divine Father and Mother triggers an avalanche of old stuff, and it all must be cried and healed. It's the old story of pouring clean water into a glass full of muck. There is no room for the clean water. As the new lovingness and forgiveness comes in, the old mucky shame and self-hate must pour out.
The love of the Mother is the sweetest, most comforting thing imaginable, and the Father's love is bright and supportive and soothing. There is no act or feeling that they do not accept, and cannot forgive. Unfortunately, we can't just jump to this place and expect that it will magically heal all the other things. It won't. We still have to cry our own parts that were lost, that committed the hurtful acts. We still have to heal our own shame, and find our own self-forgiveness. If you start with this step, you'll find yourself triggered right back through the other steps, so it really doesn't matter where you start. Just know that the process isn't magical. It's pretty simple. It's just not easy.