Updated: May 10
Forgiveness is up for me lately. Truth be told, it is always up because to forgive is to accept myself and others as innocent, guiltless. Forgiveness is not taking the high road, which simply puts my ego above yours and establishes guilt in its attempt to forgive. No, forgiveness is to recognize that nothing was done, and there is nothing to forgive. Since nothing can change the love and acceptance of God, sin and guilt can only be real in the illusory world of our creation.
When we forgive, we create another world, full of love and miracles and peace – we get constant reinforcement of our worthiness and our love by the way we feel. When we feel peaceful, joyful, loving, accepting, we are living in forgiveness. When we feel negative emotions of any kind, we are mistaken, not wrong or unworthy or unlovable, we are simply mistaken. The mistake is always the same, we’ve judged ourselves or another as wrong and believed in their guilt. The remedy is always the same, forgiveness. Remembering that everyone is innocent, this single teaching, alleviates all my anxiety and increases my joy and peace.
When we begin the journey with A Course in Miracles, it can seem an arduous task to watch the body for cues that the mind is mistaken, then watch the mind for the mistaken belief. The ego-mind wants the higher mind to stay asleep, and it is endlessly cunning in its attempts to stay in control, to keep the guilt-based world of its existence intact. But the higher mind is infinitely more powerful, so one sure step toward healing ensures you will succeed in freedom if you so desire.
But then, with practice, life becomes a fascinating mirror, reflecting the thoughts and feelings you hold so that your experience of the moment is showing you your progress and illuminating any hidden beliefs that need healing. Now, the negative emotions we all desperately try to escape are beautiful! They are best friends who gently tell you the truth you are hiding from yourself. Life becomes clear and gentle, and everything makes sense. We attract to ourselves the experiences we need to heal, and as we heal, we attract more love, connection, fun, and joy. Then as we heal, we become healers.
A miraculous healing opportunity has come to me, and I am fascinated by how it manifested in my life. This moment is asking me to heal a story that I have believed as formative for nearly my entire life.
When I was 15 years old, I was crazy about a boy in my biology class; we’ll call him John. He and I had been crushing on each other for about 2 years already, but he was a class ahead of me and had different friends, so we only really saw each other in school or ran into each other sometimes around town. He was tall and had dark skin and dark eyes and dark hair, and he was just absolutely adorable to me. I believed I was unattractive and did not think he would ever be interested in me. But he was, and we started dating. I fell so helplessly in love with him.
The one problem was that by the time he and I started dating, I had also fallen into a terrible eating disorder. I was severely bulimic/anorexic by the time I was fifteen years old. That summer, I went away to an inpatient eating disorder rehabilitation program. I remember the moment I told him I was sick. We were sitting under my back deck around a glass table with plastic chairs all around and ashtrays crammed with my brother’s cigarettes. I would have hidden it from him forever because I was so ashamed, but I was leaving in the morning for the hospital so I had to tell him. I remember his tender heart; he pulled me onto his lap and started to cry because he loved me.
Unfortunately, the inpatient program didn’t work for me, and I was back in the hospital only two months later, this time for a few months in a full-time outpatient program. I missed two months of school if I remember correctly. It was during this time that, unbeknownst to me, John was told that he was doing me more harm than good, that he was a distraction. He was a few months shy of seventeen then, and he took this very seriously. Deeply attached, he stayed with me for another year, observing that I was not getting better.
In my version of the story, John was a jealous boyfriend, and even though we had an intense, deeply soulful chemistry between us, things could also be explosive. John tended to feel possessive over me, and there were a few stories that still sting to think about. Out of the spirit of forgiveness, I am choosing to leave them out. At sixteen years old, I really couldn’t see this dynamic for what it was, and I was happy to appease him and just wanted to be whatever he wanted me to be. I was lost to myself anyway, and all of my focus was on him, loving him and being loved by him.
One day, shortly before my seventeenth birthday, I found out that John had kissed another girl, and I was really angry. When I confronted him about it, expecting him to be remorseful, he broke up with me. He said things were getting too hard. I fell apart. Over the next few days, I experienced the most pain I had ever experienced up to that point. I could not get out of bed; I cried and cried around the clock, not sleeping or eating, and barely even moving. Moving my body at all would trigger a torrent of overwhelming sadness.
I tried to cope as well as I could, but I was becoming very unwell and was having suicidal thoughts. In fear for myself, I drove to his house and told him that I was scared and I didn’t know what to do and that I couldn’t cope. He seemed so sad to me too, and he took me into his arms, and we cried. And when we stopped crying we fell into each other again, and we made love. I remember feeling calm for the first time in many days, and I thought all would be back in order again now. But just then, I noticed that my pictures had already been replaced with those of an ex-girlfriend, and when I asked him about it, he said he was seeing someone else. I left and knew that I would never forgive him. And I didn’t for a very long time.
Later, after processing this, I told myself I had been in a very unhealthy relationship, that he was controlling, and that I would not allow myself to fall in love like that again. The sad thing is that I never did. I never loved anyone again so innocently or so completely.
I didn’t learn the lesson from this for a long time because I couldn’t see it. I didn’t see of course, that this breakup was FOR me! John tried to tell me a few times that he regretted his behavior, that he still loved me. But by then I had moved on. I had hardened my heart and began taking drugs, and overall just numbed myself out of caring for him.
That pain of losing him set me on a path toward finding Truth. I needed the pain of believing that love can be lost. I needed to know the severity of pain that comes from believing in loss of any kind. I carried that pain with me, and, feeling like a victim, I attracted victimizers. This is also something I needed to see. All of the experiences I attracted after this time was to show me the pain of judging and blaming. I attracted more and more negative experiences. I needed to change my mind.
I didn’t fully forgive John for 21 years; I thought I had, but I didn’t realize it hadn’t been possible to fully forgive until I started working with soul retrieval.
Soul retrieval is a shamanic practice that recognizes that parts of the soul fraction off during traumatic experiences. That part of the soul goes back to our source where it is kept safe and awaits its return. It returns when those traumas are healed and when we consciously call it back home. I had been engaging in soul retrieval meditations, calling back pieces of myself that I had given away or lost in my life.
Shortly afterward, I was driving by myself, which is a rarity, and a song came on that instantly reminded me of John. Now, instead of triggering uneasy memories, I was flooded with a force of love and gratitude so strong that my body was vibrating with warmth and happiness. I had beautiful memories of him, and the only thing I experienced was overwhelming gratitude for that experience. All pain, all judgment, all blame was simply gone. I reveled in my memories for quite a while, and then I got a clear message, “Tell him.” It was an inspired idea, and I knew I would have to follow through.
The next day, I messaged John out of the blue. I sent him a link to the song that reminded me of him and told him that it made me happy. I wanted him to know that I didn’t hold anything against him anymore, even though I didn’t know if he would even care.
What followed from this inspired idea was so unexpected and utterly delightful. It turns out that I was not the only one in need of healing from this trauma. John had been holding onto it as well for all this time. He said he found it rather miraculous that I had messaged him because he had just been talking about the regret he felt for the way our relationship had ended. He was so happy I had contacted him. We dove in. We poured our hearts out. He got to tell me everything he wished he had, and I was able to hear it because my heart was open again.
What I see from this healing experience is the mistaken belief of rejection. The pain I felt was from the belief that rejection is something outside ourselves that informs our self-concept. But now I see, after all this time, that the only rejection one can ever experience is self-rejection. If I had not rejected myself, I could never have felt rejected by John. If I had loved myself, I would have seen that his rejection or acceptance has no bearing on my self-worth. I would have remained open, and very quickly I would have been able to hear him when he tried to tell me that he realized his own mistakes.
My anger and my shutting down made understanding impossible. I had to love myself and forgive it all. Once I did, healing was certain…for me and for him too.
You see, forgiveness! It is so miraculous.
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