When I was first released from that relationship from hell, I wanted desperately to heal my relationship with my daughters,
I had done a lot of things over the course of those almost 5 years that had hurt them deeply, betrayed their trust and caused them enormous pain.
It was tempting to stay in my victim place of ‘it was all his fault. He was a liar, manipulator, abuser” but the fact is, I was 100% accountable for everything I’d done and said that caused them pain.
Only I could do the work to regain their trust and ultimately, their forgiveness.
In the first tumultous, foggy days of my freedom, it didn’t seem possible.
How could they ever forgive me when I couldn’t forgive myself? And that’s when I realized, everything is possible when I begin with forgiveness.
Forgiving myself was hard until one day I decided to make it easy. I decided that the only path to forgiveness was to just keep repeating the statement, “I forgive myself.” No qualifications. No timelines. No repitition of the litany of my transgressions. At times, the list felt so long I feared I’d be buried beneath its weight. Carrying that weight didn’t feel like a healthy thing to do. It definitely didn’t fit on the path to healing so, I let the list go and simply stated, many, many times a day, every time a thought of my ‘unforgiveness’ entered my mind, “I forgive myself.”
I did the same with thoughts of him. I put up imaginary STOP signs in my mind and reminded myself whenever a thought of him entered, “He is not part of my life today. STOP.” And I’d turn my thoughts from ‘him’ to what I needed to do, right now in this moment, to create healing and light in my life.
And then, I breathed and did whatever that healing thing was.
And with every breath and every action I blew life into my dream of reconnecting with my daughters, of returning to that place of grace where we shared our lives, laughed and chattered together, ate meals together, watched movies, danced, sang, shared stories and adventures. That place where I was blessed to applaud them and cheer them on every step of their journey in life.
It wasn’t a straight line to healing.
It wasn’t a continuous one step forward, never looking back.
The past had such a significant hold on my psyche I had to sometimes look back to cut the threads that kept entwining themselves around my feet, sneaking up into my thoughts in moments of despair and doubt when it felt like their forgiveness was an impossible dream and I would never again know their love.
I cannot say the moment when I knew I was healed or that our relationship was all better. Healing is an ongoing process. Better is a relative term. What I can say is that in having journeyed on that road to hell and come back into the light of living this life right now in loving kindness and joy, our lives are far different and we are all much stronger than we were, even before he walked into our lives.
Sometime ago, my youngest daughter told someone that she didn’t regret that experience. While it was hard, it made us all stronger. I agree.
A couple of years ago, my eldest daughter, Alexis, and I shared our story of healing and recovery at a one day conference. Working on that presentation together was challenging. So many pains from the past to walk through to get to the beauty of today. So many moments when thoughts of ‘if only I’d taken a different path, the road would have led somewhere else’, slithered into my thoughts. As we wrote and talked and wrote some more, I was constantly reminded, “I cannot change the past. I can heal the future when I walk in forgiveness and love today.”
Even today there are moments when triggers from the past flip open, or something will happen in one of my daughters lives and I will immediately leap to thinking it was a in some way connected to what happened in the ‘then and there’. In those sticky places, I must spend a few moments in forgiveness, reminding myself “I forgive me”, and then, I must breathe deeply and get present in the loving kindness of the here and now.
Once upon a time, I fell in love with Prince Charming and instead of finding myself on the road to happiily-ever after, I woke up on the road to hell.
Once upon a time, I believed someone else could make my dreams come true.
Today, I no longer believe in making fairytales come true or that someone else is responsible for my dreams or my happiness.
Today, I believe in me.
I believe in Love and I believe dreams can come true, even when they feel impossible, when we walk our path with truth and dignity, kindness and forgiveness as our guides.
And I believe we must all let go of the things that would have us believe we are not good enough, not worthy or deserving so that we can fall unequivocally into Love with ourselves, our life and everyone in it.
This the video of the presentation Alexis and I gave.