Recently, I was asked, “What is the bravest thing you’ve ever done?”
I didn’t stop to think about my answer. It rose from my heart without hesitation.
“Apologize to my daughters for deserting them. Being a mother is a sacred trust, and I violated that trust — and while I know I was in the throes of an abusive relationship, I am 100% accountable for the pain I caused them. It wasn’t about asking for their forgiveness, it was about forgiving myself — and those two things, apologizing and forgiving myself, took great courage and self-compassion.”
That was the first part of my answer. The woman who asked the question (she wanted to put my name forward for an award) wrote back for clarification. I responded:
“I didn’t want to apologize. I wanted my excuse to be — I disappeared for four months because I was so broken and lost in that relationship. The truth is, I was broken and lost, and so were they. They needed my apology more than I needed my excuses and in apologizing, I accepted my accountability and set myself free to forgive myself.
In forgiving myself I opened myself up to forgiveness which allowed love to flow freely within me and between us. Apologizing and accepting my accountability for causing them pain allowed me to step into their anger and pain, rather than resist it because I feared it would break me. It gave me the space and courage to be compassionate with myself when I felt overwhelmed by the sorrow and grief of all that happened to the three of us through that relationship. And, it opened me, and the both of them, up to the joy that comes from letting go of the past so that we could move forward through LOVE.”
I do not believe I would have recognized the power of forgiveness, or even known the power of being accountable, had I not gone through the Choices Seminar in 2006.
When I went through the program, I thought I was in pretty good shape – at least emotionally. I’d just spent three years rotor-rooting to the core of my being, healing from a relationship that almost killed me.
Fact is, I was doing okay. But if better is possible, is good good enough?
For all the richness and joy in my world, I didn’t see that there could be so much more if I was just willing to trust in the universe and let go of the mask I wore that said: I’m okay. Everything’s under control.
There were many parts of my life that were ‘under control’. And then there were the parts that weren’t.
It was those parts and my desire to control them that were creating the pain, the irritation, the unease. Yet, because I was wearing my mask, I was hiding the truth from myself — my daughters were still hurting and because I was so determined to make everything ‘okay’ and to keep it all under control, they didn’t feel safe expressing their unease.
Along with the simple tools Choices teaches to live a better life every day, I found space to love myself unconditionally; wounds, warts and wisdom.
That means, loving the mother who was so lost and broken she deserted her children. It means, loving the woman who was abused and the woman who had the courage and commitment to grow through the pain of the past to embrace wholeheartedly her beautiful, joyful, life, and self, today.
When I learned to love all of me, including the broken pieces and the not so pretty ones too, I set myself free to live this one beautiful and awe-inspiring life without fear of never being enough.
What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done?