In this week’s episode I explore forgiveness. Initially my idea was to talk about forgiving others but I started to realize (with some help) that my life only started to flourish when I started to forgive myself from a place of honesty. It is always easy for us to say “I am sorry” or “I forgive you” to someone else when we feel hurt. How frequently do we show ourselves that kind of compassion on a daily basis?
I go on to mention two phenomenal women who changed how I see the world. They are Elizabeth Gilbert and Brene Brown. I spent hours digging into videos by them when I was knocked down by life. I discovered Elizabeth Gilbert through the movie eat pray love. Though not everybody agrees with me on this, I like the portrayal of the hero’s journey in the movie. There is a particular line at the end of the movie that I like that goes:
“I’ve come to believe that there exists in the universe something I call “The Physics of The Quest” — a force of nature governed by laws as real as the laws of gravity or momentum. And the rule of Quest Physics maybe goes like this: “If you are brave enough to leave behind everything familiar and comforting (which can be anything from your house to your bitter old resentments) and set out on a truth-seeking journey (either externally or internally), and if you are truly willing to regard everything that happens to you on that journey as a clue, and if you accept everyone you meet along the way as a teacher, and if you are prepared – most of all – to face (and forgive) some very difficult realities about yourself… then truth will not be withheld from you.” Or so I’ve come to believe.”
Though the message is simple, those words have nudged me to expand myself on multiple occasions.
I became familiar with Brene Brown after watching a TED talk of hers where she discusses shame and vulnerability. From that moment onwards, I started digging into every video she appeared in on YouTube and that led me to listening to a few of her audiobooks. There is a quote that Brene Brown brings up frequently called the man in the arena speech by Theodore Roosevelt and it goes:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
As a quick summary, if you show up to your life you will get your ass kicked but trying and failing is better than not trying at all.
Somewhere in between going on my own internal journey and having the confidence to show up to my life with no guarantee of a good outcome, I started to become more forgiving. When I was able to forgive myself, I started to be able to forgive other people.
One of the people that I struggled to forgive for years has been my father. We have had a rocky relationship for most of my life and the only story I read in this episode is about that forgiveness process. The title of the story is Forgiveness.
My father and I have had a complicated relationship my whole life. This is for him.
1992 – 1960 = 32
My dad was 32 when I was born
He was living in a foreign country
He was speaking a new language
He was constructing a life
He was doing what needed to be done for his family
1987 – 1960 = 27
My dad was 27 when my brother was born
1 year older than I am now
He was practically married to his high school sweetheart
They were both living in a foreign country
They were both speaking a new language
They were both constructing lives
2018 – 1960 = 58
You are 58 years into your journey
We are more similar than I care to admit
We think in a similar way
We act in a similar way
I am aspiring to be a version of you
I am because of you
The more I travel, the more I notice mothers and fathers with their children. Though admitting this is hard, I do not think any parent (except for a few) would intentionally try to scar their child. We are all doing the best we can with the information we have in the moment. it is hard to admit this because it requires you to own your past. Suddenly you have to own that your “good intentions” will be the source of trauma for someone else.
A few weeks ago a friend of mine got a puppy. She is at the phase where she trips over herself when she runs. My friend has started to train the pup. Though the idea of the pup responding to “sit” seems simple, the idea is quite complicated. In one way or another we are all training the pup passively or actively with our actions. Though we all want the pup to sit on command we each have a different style. On one end of the training spectrum is always paying attention to the pup and on the other end is yelling and chastising when the pup misbehaves. I have been watching each person’s strategy intently. It was a stretch but I found a way to apply these observations to my own childhood. Hear me out.
My father was trained by his father. From what I hear my grandfather was similar to me but heavy handed. From my birth till about 23 my father worked long hours. He disciplined and was not one for small talk even though he is a prankster. I say that but most of my childhood traumas star my dad. In all of these memories, he is mercilessly trying to drill something out of me. He was training me. There are days where the hatred I have over these memories cause me to spiral into depression. 2 years ago nobody could have been able to convince me that the man was not pure evil. At pivotal moments when I needed nurturing I got fury! My father’s triggers were programmed into me
In recent times, I have gotten along with my dad. For the most part we can talk about almost anything intellectually. He was triggered by the things he was not able to do as a kid for various reasons. For reasons I have only experienced in the last few months, I get it. Now being able to live a life you want because of your past is hard. It’s even more difficult when you see your own child doing those things everyday. Though I do not have a kid, I experienced a similar feeling for about 6 months.
I have now dealt with chronic pain for almost 10 years. To be honest, the hardest part has been finding my limits. in the beginning I was irritated and sometimes sad because I could not do what I wanted to do. My body did not let me. To compound this, I worked in the professional kitchen and my worth had become tied to 12 hours of high level cooking. When the pain turned 12 hours to 1 overnight, I could not handle it. I felt completely worthless. I did not realize how much the kitchen triggered me till I started working side by side with someone who was on my skill level.
Everything from the way he held a knife to the way he corrected irritated me. I felt anger bubble up in me at odd times. If I did not have control over my anger, I would not still be friends with this guy today. In these moments I saw myself as my father. The only difference was that I was able to remain calm and move through the discomfort. I traded my dads anger or silence. I stay silent when I should speak because I fear getting angry. I am afraid of the sound and weight of my own words.
Recently, I have been working through this fear. Some days, it is effortless and on others feel a knot forming in my throat. Tt keeps me from speaking my when I should. it keeps me from fighting for what is important. Most days I lose mercilessly. The knot becomes anxiety and it holds my whole body still. it is slowly getting better but it is no easy fight. In the midst of it, its hard to forgive but I must. The trigger shows me the obstacle I need to overcome to become the best version of myself.
I have tried for the last 3 years but finally I can say these words with honesty. I forgive you! In the past when I tried, suppressed emotions would bubble up and remind me that I was lying to myself. Now all I feel is peace and occasionally I even smile. It is fascinating how bad or traumatic memories can completely wash away the good aspect of a person. They completely cloud memories until all that is left is what is bad about them.
Digging into the past is hard if you dare to do it (I am not sure if I recommend it). It requires you to see events as they are and not as you remembered them to be. Making the choice to forgive or not is another hustle but I am learning the benefits slowly. I have less anger in my heart for people I do not know. it has been much easier to put myself into the shoes of another. You are me on a completely different journey and that is okay. We do not have to agree on everything. We do not have to share everything. I am okay with our relationship in any way it presents itself.
I forgive you and this time it is not a lie.
Thank you for checking out this post. If you resonated with any part of it feel free to leave a comment and let’s start a conversation;
Mentioned in this episode
Feel free to check out these videos if you are curious about knowing more
Lisa Nichols – Impact theory – Phenomenal Interview about overcoming struggle