The Sacred Practice of Forgiveness: The Fourth Energy!
It’s through our relationships with those close to us that we get to work out our spiritual growth — and I am no exception!
My relationship with my mother was a container in which I received some of my deepest hurts and also have experienced the redemptive power of forgiveness, which is our Fourth Energy, Love.
From my earliest days, I had such a love-hate relationship with my mom. She was a very complicated, confusing woman. She was absolutely riddled with contradictions. Like, if someone rang the doorbell and we weren’t expecting company, we had to immediately get away from the windows so no one could see us. But at the same time, she loved to show us off and have us look a certain way, dressed up like little dolls with curled hair and perfect clothing.
She wanted to control everything — and me being me, I wanted to rebel, so we’d butt heads constantly. I was supposed to behave according to her rules. But at the same time, she’d be totally lenient in other ways.
I remember wanting to skip school because I hadn’t studied for a test. She made up an illness for me and let me stay home. She was both my friend and tormentor — the definition of “frenemy.”
When our family finances fell apart, the whole family fell apart. We were all a mess, emotionally and financially and spiritually. I was deep in my addiction to drugs and alcohol, and nearly lost my life to my addiction. I was out of control and out of balance in so many ways, including in respect to my fourth energy center, where love, compassion, and forgiveness reside.
Creating a Balance of Love and Compassion
Through my recovery, though, I created some physical and emotional distance from my mom, and started to move more into a balanced energy.
She tried to guilt me back into an unhealthy relationship with her, and I felt like a horrible daughter for putting up boundaries. I still didn’t understand her. I still was hurt and resentful, and told myself a story of being a victim of her bad behavior.
But I was slowly beginning to pull apart the threads of what was “her” and what was “me” so I could separate and create my own life.
When she got brain cancer a few years after our family’s financial collapse, our relationship still was not the stuff of movies (at least, not happy movies!).
I had so much anger and resentment about the way she’d raised me and the rules that I had had to live by. But through my spiritual practice, I began to see our relationship from a different viewpoint, one that let go of the idea of victim and victimizer. I was slowly learning compassion.
I didn’t learn until this time the roots of my mother’s fear. As I mentioned in my last blog my grandfather was killed in a concentration camp in Dachau, and my grandmother was killed during a bombing in Berlin. My mother was adopted by a Christian family and told to pretend she was Christian. She lived in desperate fear of being discovered and killed for who she was.
No wonder she carried that deep-seated fear with her to Canada, and raised her children in an emotional stew of fear and worry! She was terrified that if anything about her — or her daughters — was different, it could literally lead to our death.
Forgiveness Is in Your Hands
I came to the point where I wanted to have love and forgiveness in my life more than I wanted to have blame and resentment and victimhood. I took to heart the statement that it is better to understand than to be understood.
I didn’t need her to change in order for me to have peace. I chose to see her as an individual dealing with her own fears and hurts. Learning her story gave me space to see her, and our relationship, differently. All the things I thought were controlling or manipulative, were actually from her deep desire to protect me.
Just a few days before she passed, I was able to visit her in the hospital, hold her hand, and apologize for the problems I’d caused in our family by being an alcoholic. At the same time, I could also see her for who she was: A woman doing her best to keep her family safe. I told her how I could understand why she did what she did, and we made peace. I really got that she really loved me, and that all along she was being the best mom that she could be.
Writing a New Story of Freedom Is a Choice
Today, I am so free from the burden of the past I carried so long. I’m a different person as a result of forgiving my mom, her forgiving me, and me forgiving myself for being such a difficult daughter.
It has brought unbelievable inner peace and integration. I have a completely different story now about the way I was raised. Yeah, some of what I went through was definitely a little odd, but I can see it through a lens of compassion, and I say, “Wow, she must’ve been in a lot of fear. She was trying to keep us safe” The story I have now is I am the child of a Holocaust survivor who did the best she could to protect me.
But at the end of the day, my understanding of her changed so dramatically that I was able to completely erase the pain. I was able to open my heart to my mother and to myself, choosing to own my part in the dance we’d been playing out and forgive myself as well as her.
If you’re struggling with feelings of resentment and pain from the past, handle your emotions gently. You’ve been carrying a heavy burden for a long, long time.
It may be scary to consider what your life and relationships will look like without the structure of unforgiveness. Direct healing love into those places. Recognize where you’ve been hurt. Give yourself permission to be curious and kind.
We often accept the stories of the past without question, assuming they are 100 percent accurate and true. Be willing to allow for new interpretations, ones that move you into alignment with the greater energy of love and unconditional acceptance.
As compassionate beings, our goal is to lessen the pain and suffering of others — and that includes yourself.
P.S. Forgiveness is a sacred practice that transforms your experience of the world around you.
Loneliness, depression, anxiety, low self worth, and nursing resentments may be signs that your fourth energy is out of alignment. Take this free quiz to see where your energies are out of balance — and then receive some amazing supportive resources to restore harmony!