How does one begin to heal when their heart feels broken by another? Perhaps it was an intentional choice initiated from them and yet, it felt cruel and unexpected to you? Maybe you never saw it coming. Maybe when you finally did see it coming you then contributed in some way to the entire miserable experience too. Now what?
First, we have to forgive ourselves for all we did, and, all we failed to do. That takes a lot of courage and a deep look at our actions and reactions and how we manage our emotions. It’s not an easy introspective task when we are wounded and hurting. It has to be a conscious decision to heal, learn, and grow from our experience. Our unfinished business, (fill in the blank), will continue to control us and cause us suffering until we honor our grief, and acknowledge our feelings. As we just sit and be with them, the wisdom within us will lead us to a deeper understanding and our next steps.
I had a powerful experience of my own, related to how long this process can take sometimes as awareness and healing continue to gently unfold within us. It’s a little like peeling the layers of an onion. Each one can make you cry. On Mother’s Day I went to the graduation of the second oldest of my four grandchildren. Such a happy time in her life as she said good-by to a wonderful high school experience, and is looking forward to saying hello to a new life in college! I was so excited with her and all the family and, so surprised at my strong emotional reaction when the procession into the auditorium began. Upon reflecting, I recognized it as an anniversary reaction that in that special moment revealed and touched a place of deep sadness within me.
In that unexpected instant, I was emotionally transported back to 1992 and I found myself also remembering my own graduation procession as my family looked on from the upper seats of the auditorium. They were so proud of me and I was too! As a returning adult student I had collected my college credits from every place I had ever lived with my little family of 4 during our 6 moves in 12 years. I had finally completed a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Services. It was both a joyous time for me, and a bittersweet one as well. I was going through a divorce I never expected, and facing a future filled with hope – alone.
I still needed a Master of Science in Human Services and Counseling from the main campus in order to begin my career path toward becoming a Licensed Professional Counselor. I enrolled and drove from Naperville to Evanston, Illinois - often 6 days a week. The divorce was completed shortly before I graduated. I chose not to walk this time in the final graduation ceremony with my classmates. The reality of both my accomplishments and my overwhelming sadness was simply too deep for words.
I have discovered, forgiveness does not make someone else right-it makes you free. Until you let your past rest in peace, you can’t really live into your future. I have learned, you have to embrace acceptance, and let it go…
I have spent so much of my journey as an adult learning and growing in the school of my life. I never would have guessed when or how the wisdom and insights would come. Many of my professors, 2½ years of being a client myself, and my beloved family, and friends also shared a part of my path to learning about forgiveness. Two quotes I love on my bulletin board have reframed my story as well: Aristotle wisely said, “What we learn to do we learn by doing.” And the words of Charles Swindoll: “You who have endured the stinging experiences are the choicest counselors God can use.” I have humbly agreed and said many times in the last 25 years, I am the best example I know about some important things.