If each of our lifetimes is a string of continuous events, sometimes, the combination of that major event, our reaction to it and the people involved become a bit like a knot that forms in the string, needing to be untangled at some point in order for that experience to serve us and those we will journey with going forward (personally and professionally) in ways that will best serve our growth and theirs. One of the acts of healing that often needs to happen in order to help untangle those knots, redefine the stories that bind us and allow us to be fully available for our life purpose/s again, is an act of forgiveness. How the conversation will look, who it involves (self or others), what each needs to hear and how each of us needs to be loved in those moments to heal looks and feels a little different for everyone.
Sometimes it just feels too big or painful. I know that one intimately. But here too is a working example of this kind of healing conversation in motion. A few weeks back, I was reminded of one of my own blame stories i hadn't forgiven me for while watching the movie The Shack (2017). Many people have heard me talk over the years of my Mum's death having happened 2 days before my 9th birthday (an interesting karmic entanglement i think alone, given that my Mum was in labour with me for 72 hours and it was a very difficult, breached, forcep delivered birth, in which, in my experiences of exploring it, it felt like there was an element of at least fearing one of us wasn't going to make it that went beyond the psychological death any Mother must go through in the process of birth to become a Mother. For that reason, (with maybe a small hint, ok maybe massive pinch of a co-dependent mother-daughter attachment and over-responsibility thrown in) the windows of my birth and her death have always felt undeniably related. But the deeper concern for 8, about to be 9 year old me, was the fact that my Father, my Grandfather and my brother (as well as I) didn't get to say goodbye to my Mother by 5 minutes while at least 2 hours of those last minutes were spent collecting me from a birthday celebration for me I was admittedly already concerned about having at a time we knew was coming close to being her last few days (and after they'd dropped me off, she later took a turn for the worse and the hospital staff decided it was time and so a new string of events for the day was planned.)
After i watched that movie, in which at least one of the characters is an older sister blaming herself for many of the events in the movie, the 8 year old, within the grown up in me came to the surface and cried and cried. To her, to knowingly stop someone from being able to say goodbye to someone they love would be unforgivably, overwhelmingly huge in the direction of a belief that says 'you just don't do that." Her self blame and maybe others at least perceived blame, became a part of one big knot that needed to be healed in the string of my life.
So grown up me had a job to do to help her forgive herself and see the story in a new way. I had to mentally hold her and reassure her that there are a string of so many decisions and events made by many people that lead up that moment, so she's not to blame. I had to tell her that, even if karmicly speaking, our Mother and I did have this weird link between our births and deaths, our Mother's decision and timing of departing, her emotional processes full stop were her own axe to grind and not little me's burden to bear, so to maybe let that one go. And finally, if she was so worried that her being here had done so much harm that in some way contributed to her Mother's departure, as i followed my gut on what needed to be said to heal through this process, I asked her to consider, that what if, (i don't talk about this much all the time now, but in years past, adult me has done a lot of Reiki/hands on healing, as well as Neo-Shamanic work with family, friends and clients and watched some rather remarkable things happen during and after those sessions in terms of halved recovery times, improvements of pain and physical conditions and amazing turn-arounds in emotional wellbeing and life circumstances, which defy logical scientific explanation and testability, hence you can't claim a cure or guarantee an outcome, yet) what if, with all her crazy, funky "healing abilities" or even just being HER, is it possible that, actually she helped her Mother to have another 7 years on this planet she wouldn't have otherwise had BECAUSE she came through as her daughter? How many amazing things happened in that extra 7 years? Her brother was born for one, and has gone on to be amazing and have two gorgeous kids, her Mother was a social worker and lord knows how many more people she helped in that extra time before she got sick. Not to mention she herself grows up to have a fairly positive impact in the lives of tens of thousands of people in the Wellness and other service based industries over the years, helping them to change their own lives for the better....there might just be a little something in that. But in the end, it wasn't her job to do it FOR her Mum, no matter how much help she got, only each person themselves in the end can make the choices and do the things for themselves that will see them heal and grow as adults, or not. In her Mother's case, it was her time. There's nothing more she could've done to change that. So is what she thought still true? Or does she maybe see things a little differently now? And can she maybe let it go? And everyone else's stuff in it that isn't hers go? And get back to that promise she made to give her all to living a life she loves? I finished that imaginary conversation and then left that information, that change of perspective to integrate.
A week later, i now have no charge around something that, 2 week ago it felt completely overwhelming and had seen me altering my behaviour around birthdays, celebrations and in how i engage in relationships for decades. Re-contextualising that story in 8 year old me's head allowed her/me to move from blame to forgiving myself, hence starting to untangle that knot and any related knots and now we/ I am free to engage in life and human connection, in business, in leadership in a whole new way.
That distinction between the blame we hold for ourselves or another, over the power we ourselves have to heal and resolve the situation entirely for ourselves and hence find the thread in the string that leads to forgiveness, is a big one for many of us.
The trouble with choosing “I can’t” or “I won’t” is that we can keep ourselves (and possibly others) tied in knots in ways that prevent us being able to engage in life fully in future, in ways that keep our hearts closed and walled off, or flat out preoccupied with our own process, where we might have otherwise, as Mack says to his eldest daughter in The Shack, have available bandwidth to be there for others, personally and professionally. Our thread, like a piece of wool being fed into the loom, along with many other threads of wool (people around us), when it is tangled, struggles to be weaved into the rich tapestry of life, of love, of Leadership and the picture of service and abundance that we have intended to be a part of. This potentially leaves us with a story defined by pain and suffering to tell too, a story of potential victimhood or loss or war. Over a story of triumph over the odds, of lessons learned, or one of healing, empowerment, gratitude and determination, despite whatever it was that went down.
Does this really best serve what we really deserve in life? Does it really best serve our future relationships, or our clients by the quality of the story we have to tell and how much of ourselves we have available to give? What potential version of a future us would we ourselves find most inspiring, loving and supportive, if we were the one on the receiving end of us? In the end, only each person can choose to go there or not for themselves. That internal sensation of peace and relief that arrives when we arrive at that place called forgiveness, may not always happen on the instant gratification schedule that we wish it would either, especially when it involves forgiving ourselves, sometimes that healing takes a commitment to repeatedly showing up to have a conversation with the part of oneself that hasn’t forgiven and let go, to ask it what it needs now to heal many more times than just one, until all associated mental threads of our own within the knot can accept it or we've cut free the threads of others tangled with our own string within it, But any time we’re struggling to show up for those moments, I find it helps to remember the people we love and who love us the most as well. To remember everyone we are yet to love and all of the people we will go on to one day help and inspire. And do it for them. Be the best version of ourselves we can possibly be for them. No matter what has been said or done, it’s never to late to change the story and choose the path of future happiness and love.
Until next time, have fun, take care
Nat talks about Self Expression, Heart Centred Communication and Lifestyle for Leaders.