I recently saw someone who a few years ago I’d made a deliberate decision to let go of in my life. This was a person who’s behaviour caused me a great deal of additional pain (on top of an already painful period I was going through due to a significant loss in my life). At the time the decision felt like it was made for me when I let this person go.
I knew to my core I couldn’t have them in my life – perhaps not ever again, but certainly not then, not based on the devastating impact their behaviour and words had had on me.
Seeing this person again, unexpectedly, was not a nice experience. I felt my gut clench and my heart sink. “Oh no – it’s her” was the internal dialogue.
At that moment, a part of me knew I was at an important choice point, that what I did next would be significant on some level, for me.
My choices, in that challenging and uncomfortable moment, would contribute to the emerging picture that’s developing of who I am. If I am committed to becoming the woman I want to be – to being that woman – then it’s in moment of challenge and difficulty that my mettle is most tested.
How would I shape up?
But while all that ‘important choice’ stuff was going on, another part of me was running purely on instinct. I didn’t overthink my response or internally prepare words to say.
On some level, I knew that all my ‘preparation’ for such a moment was already done. It was the accumulation of the years of healing work, of trying to introduce more self-kindness and self-care into my life, and to making more of a deliberate choice to say thank you to the people and for the experiences and things I already have in my life.
I was talking online with one our fabulous members of our premier program, My Year Without Clothes Shopping, earlier today about how shopping is not ‘just shopping’.
Shopping hits many notes, and touches our lives, hearts, souls and minds in many, many ways.
And I know that unexpectedly running into this person from my past and having it challenge me emotionally is part of my ongoing journey of healing.
It’s all part of the same pot of pain, frustration, confusion, overwhelm, feelings of giving up-what-IS-the-point-to-all-this, possibility, potentiality, surrender, grace and hope.
I can’t say I’m ready to thank this person for the contribution they made to my life, and I’m fairly sure this means those feelings are still ‘in progress’. We said hello, and our greeting was civil if not warm and friendly. That old cold ice was finally broken, and my blood pressure returned to normal.
And maybe that’s okay. As my friend Jane told me “You can still be angry with someone, or still have emotions about what happened, and know you have forgiven them. The emotions don’t always disappear completely.”
I hear stories of women who not only forgive the people who committed terrible crimes against them (such as murdering their children), but they grow to love them, and I am amazed at such acts of surrender, grace and forgiveness. I can’t fathom how such emotions and beingness is possible when one has been on the receiving end of such senseless atrocity.
The only way I can make sense of those phenomenal acts of humanity is by remembering something I once heard about forgiveness and how it really works.
Forgiveness is not done BY us, it is not an act we do. Forgiveness comes THROUGH us – we are the vessel through which divine forgiveness and grace comes, and in the process, we, too, are washed clean.
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