Soaring high on a radiant crest of inner joy and well-being,
Feeling exhilarating freedom as I open into my true identity…
… as a Child of God…
… a perfect expression of His creative power and Love…
… and connected through Spirit to all of Creation…
Wanting this ride to continue forever,
this wondrous height to carry me always,
but I am dashed onto the unyielding rocks of my past,
and left splayed and raw and oozing…
… pain I thought I had healed,
… tears I thought I had shed,
… anger I tried to ignore,
… and judgement I tried to hide.
What message can I find in this pain?
What lesson is there in this experience for me to learn?
I thought I had forgiven my ex-husband and his wife for the pain and grief I experienced because of their affair, the ripping apart of our family, and their subsequent marriage, all seemingly oblivious to the wounds left gaping in me and our children. I have been working on healing and inner growth for years, and I thought that I had made significant progress in terms of healing and forgiveness. In fact, I have written about the forgiveness work that I have done. Recent events have made me realize that healing and forgiveness are not accomplishments that I can tick off a list of healing work to be done. They are processes that take me ever deeper and help me to reveal and release pain and anger that I have buried deeply and covered with years of coping and moving on. Finding my own strength, learning to love and care for myself, and opening into my true identity have been important and essential milestones, but the journey must also open and cleanse all past grievances, no matter how deeply they are buried and how many layers of living have covered them up, so that only love can remain. Covering pain doesn’t make it go away. We just tell ourselves that it is gone because we don’t feel its incessant grip on our hearts anymore. Not feeling it doesn’t mean that we have dealt with it. It is there, waiting to be revealed and released when we least expect it.
Over the last few months, I have been experiencing pain and swelling in my fingers, hands, knees, and feet. I have sensed that this recurring pain has to do with healing work that I need to do because I believe that when we lock pain into our bodies, that pain causes disease (or “dis-ease”) within our bodies. At a yoga and meditation workshop I attended recently, the instructor talked to us about paying attention to the messengers that arise in our bodies and in our lives. I believe that this pain and swelling in my joints is a messenger for me, and so I have been focusing on reading and reflecting on forgiveness passages in A Course in Miracles and visualizing those I need to forgive as my spiritual brothers and sisters, emanating the Spirit of God and the pure white glow of His Love. I did that work in a space that was removed from any physical interaction with these people. I believed I was making progress, until circumstances placed my ex-husband and his wife in my place of work for an extended period of time.
Previously, I have shared with you the illuminating power of stream-of-consciousness writing. When you pose questions to your Higher Self, to the presence of God within you, you will get answers. They rise up from within you and tell you what you need to know when you are open to listening and paying attention to the answers. I want to share with you the answers I received in two of my last written communications with God (you may want to call it your Higher Self, your soul, the Universe, your Divine essence — the name doesn’t matter; what does matter is the meaning behind the name which only serves to point at that which is beyond words) because they illustrate the ongoing nature of our healing journeys and the guidance that is always here for us when we choose to remember and to go within to our true Teacher and Guide. (The answers that rose from within me are italicized. What always amazes me is that they often rise from within me before I even finish writing the question. Sometimes, I need to wait in quiet openness, but most often the answers are there within me immediately.)
I keep experiencing pain and swelling in my fingers, knees, and feet. Why am I experiencing this?
You are holding onto pain from the past.
How do I let it go so I can heal?
Let it rise and feel it.
Will the pain and swelling go?
[Tears rise up and I cry.]
When will the pain stop?
When you let go of the past.
Is the presence of _____ and _____ in the school a messenger for me?
Yes, you still need to let go of judgement and pain from the past.
How do I do that?
Feel it and let it go.
[At this point, I cried hard again as I felt the pain and heartbreak rise up. I realized that this pain had been locked in since the affair and my ex-husband turning his anger and hostility on me. In order to survive and be there for my children, I had locked in much of my own pain. In those moments, I was reminded of my counselling sessions when my counselor would urge me to feel my pain and to allow my anger to surface. I couldn’t. It was already locked in. In these moments during which I was writing to God, I could feel it opening and rising up for me to finally release. As my tears subsided of their own accord, I wrote the following prayer.]
Help me to let go of all of this pain and help me to forgive _____ and _____. Help me to forgive myself for feeling like I failed in my marriage. Help me to forgive myself for feeling like I failed my kids and that I couldn’t give them a loving, traditional, two-parent family. Help me to forgive myself for feeling like I had to do it all by myself. I was never alone. You carried me, guided me, and supported me.
Help me to let go of all of the pain of the past. Like a snake shedding the skin it has outgrown, let me shed this pain and emerge whole and healthy as a vibrant expression of the healing power of love.
Then, just a couple of evenings later, I wrote the next letter after a day at work during which I encountered vivid reminders of my painful past.
There is so much pain welling up inside of me. Work has become “déjà vu” all over again — my ex-husband’s wife in the staffroom, people watching me to see my reaction, sometimes both my ex-husband and his wife in the building, coming out of rooms together — it’s like no time has passed since I lived the experience of working in the same building at the same time as they were having their affair and proclaiming that nothing was going on.
What do I do? How do I heal this pain, anger, bitterness, and judgement? It is all there as raw and painful as it was when it was happening. How do I heal this? I want to be able to forgive, but I can’t.
DO you really want to forgive?
Good question. Deep down, I don’t think they deserve forgiveness, especially my ex-husband’s wife. That’s it. As much as I know I should forgive her, I can’t because I still hold a grudge against her. I am still bitter and angry… at what she did to me and what she did to my children… and it’s just hurting me. It’s certainly not weighing her or him down.
[and then the following realization]
So that’s it. I can’t forgive them on my own. I am ego talking and my ego says no. I am in the grip of my ego-mind.
Yes, you are, and your ego will never forgive. Your ego will only judge.
I need your help to forgive, don’t I?
Yes, you need the Holy Spirit to help you.
Will that ease my pain and help me let go of the past?
[With that profound realization, I wrote the following prayer.]
Dear Holy Spirit,
Please help me to forgive _____ and _____ so that I can release all of this old pain. Help me to see them with God’s vision. I thought I was a big enough person to do it, but I’m not. Dear Holy Spirit, please release my pain and anger and help me to forgive — to truly forgive.
Dear Holy Spirit, I am reminded of Jesus’ words: “They know not what they do.” Is that the case here?
And so, dear spiritual brothers and sisters, I continue to delve deeper into forgiveness, with the realization that I need the Holy Spirit to help me find the deep forgiveness I seek.
I leave you with these words from A Course in Miracles, which give me such strength and hope:
God is the light in which I see.
God is the Mind with which I think.
God is the Love in which I forgive.
God is the strength in which I trust.