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When someone hurts you, the natural response is to fight back, lash out at your attacker and hurt them like they hurt you. Some choose to retreat inward, holding onto pain and secretly self-shame behind a closed mouth. Then there’s also the outward backlash in an effort to somehow redeem yourself through some form of self-harm or sadly, humiliation. From any other onlooker, these are strong and relentless actions of choice to shield the self from pain, rejections, disappointments and so on. Maybe, even reading this right now might make you feel repulsed at such drastic measures to safeguard some semblance of sanity but in one way or another, we all do it.

When someone hurts you intentionally or otherwise, it hurts you to the core. The pain can be so overwhelming you have no idea what to do with it except, lock it away to never be seen or heard of again or wildly fight it with every fiber of your being, in every circumstance and with everyone. Even the slightest thought of facing it head-on can be so daunting–sometimes the choice to numb ourselves out seems more likely the better option. Pain can be so disruptive that we often forget there may be other growth potentials and deeper healing opportunities at the ready. Usually in hindsight, you get to see these other directions amplified. Seemingly, they go against the grain of such insolence and all the emotional baggage it brings along with it. There are other avenues one can take, however, like: letting go, acceptance, understanding, commitment, growth, peace and most of all, love.

Forgiveness is a fickle and multi-layered spiritual concept, it can easily be tossed around like a hot potato, “You have to forgive. Forgiveness is key. Forgive not for others sake but for your own.” The idea of forgiveness gets thrown around like it’s a simple thing to do and it’s not. It takes guts and drive to forgive and when you’re on track, it becomes a vehicle to view beyond what occurred and allows you to observe the potential for greatness. My dad left when I was at the ripe, young, impressionable age of 5. I adored my dad. He never saw me in the same way I saw him but it didn’t stop me from loving him all the same. Then he left without word, care or concern for me or my family’s well-being. I was devastated when I realized he was never coming back. I naturally assumed I did something wrong or he didn’t like me, perhaps, he was just tired of being my dad. I couldn’t understand how a parent could just leave their child behind, as if they never existed in the first place. My deepest wounds and greatest disappointments did not land in the fact that my dad left but sat rotting inside me. I blamed myself for his actions because I didn’t understand.

You see, it’s a natural instinct is to fight back, withdraw or sadly, use some form of self-harm. I was too young to fight back so, my little-self withdrew and later, used self-harm and numbing to cope. I didn’t understand. I retreated in shame and carried the weight of humiliation that comes with the impact of such a striking rejection. I carried that heartache for close to 35 years without recognition and the experience shaped my life, decisions, relationships, and choices in ways that were not very favorable. I became my father: neglectful, rejective, abandoning, emotionally unavailable, inconsiderate and selfish. I found myself treating people the way I was treated not because I wanted to but because I didn’t know any better and I sure as hell was not going to get hurt like that again.

I read somewhere, “Forgiveness is admitting we are like other people.” I didn’t begin to understand my dad’s behavior until I looked at what I was doing in the same ways. That was the first time I opened myself to forgiveness. It didn’t come easy, there was a lot of heartache and a lot of work. I had to let go, accept where I was, be clear about what I wanted and who I wanted to be beyond the wounds. I had to learn new skills and behaviors and practice consistently. I fell down often and got back up again and again, in pain, through pain and beyond pain. My fight was no longer against me or even him, it became a standard of commitment to my growth, in finding peace and most importantly, in discovering my capacity to openly give and receive love, freely.

You can’t just throw the idea of forgiveness around like it’s a game, you have to discover it within you. You have to commit to yourself, to a clean slate, be where you are now not in what was done to you. You need to be able to be a better presence inside your pain, become an advocate for yourself because the pain you feel is your healing path. It is your potential for growth and transformation and once you understand it, pursue it with passion.

Let forgiveness become an Evolution of Experience and love will become naturally the icing on the cake. Forgiveness really has nothing to do with the other person. It is the symbol of a soulful journey with a special gift and promise of a greater self

DISCOVERY EXERCISE: If you have experienced some form of rejection, you may see a cycle or pattern of dismissing parts of yourself. Important parts: like your strengths, natural gifts, core values, and beautiful qualities. Take a moment to highlight, reclaim and nurture those aspects of yourself that were wrongfully discounted or dismissed. Write them down, read them every day and speak them into existence, every chance you get! It may take some time to find understanding and the growth potentials in your forgiveness circumstanc. It’s not an overnight or weekend stay. Sometimes, it may take years and even when you think you have it all together, there’s more. However, there is one beautiful thing you can do toward forgiveness and that is to be kind to yourself.

Every day, every moment, take the opportunity to be conscious when your pain rises to awareness and soothe it. You may not understand what happened and what the intentions and behaviors behind it are but you can validate what you feel in the moment you feel it. Be kind with your pain because it just wants to be heard. Be kind with yourself for having endured through it. Just simple be kind because this moment, right now, is all yours to create exactly what you want in kindness and love.

~ Jennifer Circosta, AFSI Blogger, Health and Wellness Coach

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