Perhaps one of the most rewarding things that comes to us in sobriety, when we are able to do it, is the freedom of forgiveness. Once we are able to forgive others for their wrongs, and then forgive ourselves, we will experience deeper peace and serenity.
- It has been my experience that forgiveness happens in tiers or stages, over time. Just as the baby tears which grew by this gate in this picture evolved over time and are beautiful, so can forgiveness grow over time, and is beautiful when it occurs.
How do we get to forgiveness when someone has wronged us, led us to a life of anger and resentment over those wrongs? “Ruined” us emotionally… Made our life a shambles… Is the cause of our emotional misery…
How can we let go of this seething power which has control over us, and why in the world would we even WANT to let go of it? We are, after all, justified in our indignation!
This was me when I reached sobriety. I had spent my life being resentful and miserable because of incidents from my childhood. It had left me deeply scarred. It affected me every single day in one way or another and prevented me from having lasting emotional peace.
Everyone kept saying to me, “Get over it. Move on.” Except I couldn’t; that’s what I’d done with my drinking and drugging… tried to get over it. It didn’t work; I numbed out instead to avoid the feelings of shame, worthlessness, hopelessness, and despair. Of course, at the time, I could not name these, I just knew I was miserable – still angry, definitely not experiencing serenity and peace on a lasting basis.
Yet now, I experience serenity and peace every day. It is a place of calm from which my actions, thoughts, and emotions well. I have resolved my anger, my resentment, and have forgiven those who wronged me. That was the piece which was missing for me, which prevented me from finding emotional peace and serenity.
At this point, I need to tell you how I got to that place of forgiveness, but this piece is getting long. Instead, I will save it for tomorrow. I suggest that what you do between now and tomorrow’s post is to do some work around who or what you cannot forgive. Recognize who/what you cannot forgive and clearly define why. See what emotions surface and try to sit with them for a bit. Feel in your heart how wrong their action was.
Then turn your attention 180 degrees. Consider how this has consumed your life and darkly colored it. Do you want something different for yourself? Consider the possibility that you can leave this misery behind and create a new story and become willing to hear about how. Then, wait for tomorrow’s post which will describe how I found the freedom of forgiveness.