The ART of Forgiveness and Releasing Guilt

Today I forgave myself. No that’s not true, I forgave a little girl for being hurt. I forgave a child for the things that she saw and could not control. I gave forgiveness to a teenager and a young adult for unspeakable life choices. I reached out to each of them, wiped their tears and gave them my approval. It was the first time in their lives I offered this to them. It was the first time anyone had offered this to them.

Guilt had become such a standard in their lives that none of them had been able to move on. No matter what tragedies they’ve been through, or what accomplishments they’ve made, guilt haunted them through and through. Guilt tells them that it was their fault and that they were bad people because of it. It suffocated them and stole their words.

The guilt had eaten them from the inside out. They were merely hollow shells of themselves unable to piece back together.  My present self had tried too many times to lock them away, but only encouraged the deterioration. In a very real way, my present self carried them around in the physical and mental scars I bared. They couldn’t let me forget, because forgetting was letting go and letting go was weak.

The little girl was not allowed to be weak. She recalls vividly a moment when her father scolded her for crying. She was told, “the others, they cry, but you know better”. The child was her mother’s best friend, if she was weak, who would be strong for her broken mother? The teenager who failed to revive her long deceased father’s lifeless body, could not afford to be weak. The young adult paying rent at the age of 16 did not know weak. The word had no meaning to them and therefore to avoid such a thing, they could not allow being forgotten or forgiven.

They knew the only effective way to remember was to repeat their experiences. My present self would seek out those same emotions in my life and relationships to satisfy their needs. It became some kind of a drug feeding the victimizations of my past selves. There was a satisfaction in the hurt my present self continued to inflict on us all. Only after the day my present self woke up in a hospital bed as the result of my most recent victimization fix, did it occur to me, that something could and must change.

Change came and wonderful things manifested, but the inner victims cried out still. They would not be ignored and had been for far too long. They clawed at my insides and inflicted their pains. They demanded recognition and explanation for their recent dismissal.

With closed eyes and an open heart I imagined those moments that my present self couldn’t forget. I saw myself approach my former selves and reach out to each of them. I told them these things were not their fault, that they were beautiful and strong and intelligent. I assured them that the struggles were not all for nothing and that now they’d be fearless.

I felt the guilt melt from their bodies and from my present state. I watched the disease run down from my head through my heart and out my toes. I followed with my eyes as the guilt manifested into pure energy. I felt a calm and peaceful sense of freedom for the little girl, the child, the teenager, the young adult and my present self.

I am free now and so are you. You need only act on your newfound freedom within. Begin with forgiveness……

I recently submitted this piece of writing to a popular self help kind of website. Most of their articles are written in what reminded me of a seventeen magazine style. Something like “do you have boy troubles? Try baking a cake with a pretty frosting to cheer things right up! Here are 5 easy steps”. I guess that should have been my first clue that this particular piece of writing wouldn’t go over so well.

I was told to re-write the “article” with more details on “why you cried as a child” and “why your mother was broken”. I don’t know about you, but I thought those things were better left unsaid. The point was for folks to relate to it, like a song in their own personal way. Anywho, here are 5 easy steps on how to forgive yourself.

1.) Everyone has moments in their lives, like snapshots you cannot forget or delete. Those moments that make you cringe and so you quickly dismiss the images. Don’t.

2.) Go to each of those images and re-live the moment, on your own, in your mind. Go to your past self in that exact moment. Feel what is going on, smell it, taste it, be that moment.

3.) Talk to that past self in that moment. Find out what exactly the feelings are that are being felt and what is causing them. Recognize and explain to your past self how holding onto the guilt from the moment is now affecting you.

4.) Speak aloud to your past self. Say to them “this moment is not your fault, these things were out of your control and you must release them, I forgive you” or “this choice in your life does not define you, it’s OK to let it go now, you’ve learned enough from it, I forgive you”.

5.) Imagine a black stream of tar being pushed from the top of your head through your entire body and out through your toes, as you watch it imagine this is the negative guilt you feel. Once it reaches your toes, breathe in deeply and as you breathe out imagine the tar exiting your body as a pure ball of light energy. Take one more deep breath and inhale the new found positive energy into your body.

If the feelings of guilt or sorrow rise back up within you, repeat.

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