"Can you forgive him?" he asked me.
I sat in silence slightly stunned and numb by the question. No one had ever asked me this before.
Within moments, those words… that question… started to create sensations that traveled throughout my nervous system. Something was readjusting inside of me. I went from stunned and numb to experiencing a softening sensation of calm. A chronic tension that I wasn't aware I'd been holding, started to dissipate. I had never experienced anything like this before! It was beautiful! It's difficult to capture the experience in words, but there was a significant shift occurring throughout me – throughout my body and my mind.
It felt as though something was leaving me as something else came into my awareness, almost simultaneously.
What left me were the years and years of pain, shame, and anger I carried in my heart, my mind, and in the cells of my body. What also left was the chronic residual tension of being in fight or flight mode for far too long.
What emerged was a newfound energy.
It was warm and gentle and kind.
I can now describe it as the experience of my heart softening and opening.
Prior to this opening, I had spent years in isolation inside myself with the secret that I had been sexually abused when I was a child. After this secret was revealed to my family in therapy in my early teens, I spent years trying to gain some strength and courage to persevere. To survive.
I did this by taking on the following thought pattern:
I was a victim and he was the perpetrator!
This way of thinking seemed to serve me well. It appeared to be the best way to navigate in my world.
And it became the foundation for how I was able to feel "better" about myself and what had happened.
Or, so I thought....
Over time, I built "strength" in the identity of being a victim of sexual abuse.
For years, I couldn't trust men.
For years, I was tormented with the sense, and the need, to always protect myself from men and from what seemed harmful.
The person who abused me wasn't the only man who acted sexually inappropriately towards me when I was young. There were others, with much smaller offences, of the same ilk.
And, as a result, it seemed quite normal to me to maintain the posture of protection as a girl and, later on, a woman in this world.
I thought I was successful at coping and feeling strong inside myself as the victim of sexual abuse. When I spoke about it, I was angry. And I felt righteous in that anger. I began feeling more and more comfortable with talking about the abuse while maintaining a certain degree of rage against this person. My previous silence turned into anger that then allowed me to feel a sense of "freedom" from the past pain and shame.
But I wasn't free.
All of these mechanisms that I had used for survival for years, came crashing down this one fateful day when a simple question changed the course of my life...
"Can you forgive him?"
That simple, beautiful, and profound question penetrated my mental and emotional walls. My defenses dropped. It dissolved the barriers around my heart that I had spent years building up. The question went deep into my being and changed me. Deeply changed me. I cried while feeling the warmth of an incredibly freeing smile emerge from deep within my heart. I felt a freedom I had never known before.
As I gave it more thought, I wondered about this concept. Forgive him? What exactly did that even mean?
This was incredibly mind-altering to consider. Nonetheless do!
I had been existing in my life, as a young girl into my teens and my twenties, thinking I had been terribly wronged by a man.
And, to be clear, I had been!
Even though I had been harmed as a young girl, I never considered the harm I was maintaining for the many years that followed. I lived my life, for all those years, holding on to anger, disgust, distrust, and shame.
The idea of forgiveness, when asked of me to consider, melted the blocks around my heart.
It was the beginning of deep healing around this issue.
I felt a weight, a burden, lift off of me and a pattern, an imprint, leave my soul.
It was the beginning of the end of that passage of suffering. And a start to a journey I never thought I’d take.
Can I forgive him? As I really took this question in, I knew with certainty the answer was, yes. YES, I can forgive him!
The softening that forgiveness brought, allowed me to see that this man who harmed me must have been carrying harm inside himself. Within his own soul. He must have been tormented too. He wouldn’t have done what he did to me if he didn’t have his own inner turmoil. And amazingly, I came to feel that he deserved to be free of the harm he carried within himself. I began to truly want this for him.
As I saw this… as I released him, in my heart and mind, of the wrong he had done to me, I journeyed through and out of my own inner harm. I felt love and the gift that loving others offers… especially those who have been unloving towards us. I’m certainly not condoning abuse of any kind. I’m merely sharing about the immense freedom that can be felt when we love not only our neighbors but our “enemies” too! In fact, through this opening of my heart and releasing him in my heart and mind, I no longer saw him as an enemy.
I've never been the same since. I remember this experience of deep forgiveness as if it were yesterday. (It's been over 25 years!)
The shift that occurred from allowing and considering another option, other than harm, remained with me through many other painful experiences to come. I was given a reference for another way to be towards someone who I thought, or felt, produced pain in my life. I discovered I didn't need to continue to be the story I had carried for years or be the victim anymore. I also discovered I didn’t need to hold anyone, myself included, prisoner to the past.
This experience of forgiveness and releasing this man of the anger I held against him, set a tone in my life... in my being... that allowed me to come to the realization that it's possible to release even the deepest of pains that seem justified to hold. And not only is it possible... it's necessary for finding true inner peace.
There are many messages contained in the telling of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and this experience exemplifies one of them: that the ego perspective of defending little-mindedness will crucify the Son of God, but the Love of God will overcome even this crucifixion and restore Him in the instant the mind is surrendered again to Love. To understand this message, we must recognize that we are each and all the Son of God. The Son of God is a Christian term that points to a spirit essence that is the creativity-in-motion aspect of the original Source energy, Love. This spirit essence is one singular aspect with many fingers of expression. We are each one of these unique sparks of the creative movement of the Presence and Source of origin that is Love. This... Login as member to read the whole explication