If you are struggling to forgive yourself or someone who hurt you, abused you, rejected you, or ripped your heart right out and stomped on it multiple times – then this story is for you.
“Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies”
– Nelson Mandela
I spent a good chunk of 2013 working on forgiveness.
If Mandela could do it after 27 years in prison then, dammit, so could I!
I knew it was an important component of recovery and so I made a list of everyone I needed to forgive – from those who’d blatantly harmed me to those I just harboured a lingering grudge against.
I used a method called ‘The Work’ by Byron Katie, and tackled each one.
I managed to forgive all of them (yayyyy!) … except …. for my Dad (ahhhhh).
I just couldn’t let it drop.
I thought I had, but then I’d feel the old smouldering anger (at times a fire of rage) and it was all the evidence that I needed that I couldn’t logic myself into a place of forgiveness for him, when in my heart I was still pissed as Hell.
But my intention was to get there, so I just stopped trying and thought I’d figure it out eventually.
Then one day in the shower (I can remember it so clearly) I suddenly felt it…
a great big wave of forgiveness.
A deep release.
A complete letting go.
Followed by a massive rushing in of love to fill the void.
I suddenly saw the truth. I saw the little boy in my dad who’d had the most awful childhood. The little boy who, with a lust for life and a sparkle in his blue eyes, had been born a loving and joy-filled sponge (just like me), but who was showered with abuse and toxicity.
And he absorbed it all.
Until that became who he was too.
It wasn’t his fault.
Just like my depression, rage, insecurity and bulimia weren’t mine!
A double whammy.
Two for the price of one.
I forgave him and I forgave myself all in one go!!
And all because of a shower and a sponge 😉
“We are not responsible for our trauma, but we are responsible for our recovery”
The bulimia didn’t stop that day.
I still had lots more work to do in turning that deeply ingrained behaviour (and mindset) around.
But forgiveness was an absolute game changer.
It made the burden of recovery a whole lot lighter and opened the door to feeling truly free.
Forgiveness, compassion and grace for ourselves and others (who are doing our best even when we cock it up royally sometimes!) is the magic sauce that makes freedom taste even sweeter!
My brain has been a MUCH nicer neighbourhood to live in since then.
Here’s to you on your forgiveness journey.
(And here’s hoping that you have your own shower & sponge moment asap!)
Helen “Shower Power” Bennett
PHOTO: My dad & I back in the day.
Caught in a moment of gentleness and love.
I like to think that there’s still a flicker of light and love in everyone – even the most damaged.