Ghost of Christmas Past

This is a story about learning to forgive.

The man I divorced 25 years ago, is still in my life: the father of my daughters, the grandfather of my grandchildren. I see his face in their features. I see his mannerisms in their smiles and gestures. My grandson looks just like him.

I always thought that he caused me a lot of pain and anguish, that he was trying to kill me with the stress he put on me, that he wanted the kids for himself. He tried. He promised them everything and they went to live with him. He verbally abused my oldest daughter and then put guilt on my youngest daughter to get her to stay with him.

Twice I had to take him to court for child support: when he first left and when the girls came back to live with me.

Anger, blame, betrayal, feelings of being used and left to hold all the responsibilities, summarize my experience with him. I still hear about his lack of sensitivity from my daughters.

Forgiveness has always been an elusive concept. What is it? How can deep hurts be forgiven? He did me wrong. I am right. I did the right thing. He betrayed my daughters and me.

This year, on the Sunday between Christmas and New Years Day, I was having a very dark emotional day.

Instead of eating, sleeping, shopping, doing to medicate the feelings, I sat with the darkness, breathed into it, welcomed it and experienced it.

Memories and emotions of the divorce, him, the pain, the holidays following the separation, began surfacing. I stayed with it. By the end of the day, I knew I needed to forgive him. How?

A wise woman I know said to go into your deepest, purest heart and ask to be connected to the deepest heart of the darkness in the soul you need to forgive, whether it is someone else or yourself.

I prayed to understand this and went to bed.

The next morning as I was eating my oatmeal, I started visualizing him as he was at that time in our lives, really seeing him. I asked my soul and Spirit how to forgive him.

All of a sudden a wave of compassion enveloped me. I saw how he had created his own hell. He was in as much pain, if not more, than I was. The difficult part for him was that he had no idea how to deal with it. I had inner and outer resources that came to help me. However, he was floundering in the dark. He had done what was necessary for both of us to grow in different directions. He had done what was necessary for his daughters to become healthier and happier than they would have been with us together. In truth, he had followed his soul for our highest good. He could have handled it differently, but he was not able to do that.

That was the moment I learned the meaning of forgiveness. All need for revenge or retribution or justification was washed away.

I am now able to assume responsibility for my life on a deeper level. I now see people and their actions in a different, more compassionate way.

It is only with the heart that one can see rightly. ..
Antoine de Saint~ Exupery

With deepest gratitude,

Susan Joyce, RN, MEd
Self Empowerment Coaching
12708 Sabastian Drive
Fairfax, VA 22030