“Forgiveness is the final form of love.” ~ Reinhold Niebuhr
Not long ago at a conference, a woman I was sitting with was saying how happy she is to have no contact with her children.
These comments are not unusual.
In fact, according to Dr. Josh Coleman, author of When Parents Hurt, the phenomenon of complete dissolution of relating is increasingly common. As a psychotherapist, he has counseled people on both sides, but acknowledges that regardless of what side you are on, the termination of the parent-child bond is a seminal one and more difficult than many anticipate.
Many therapists agree that our earliest parental conflicts and betrayals are the seeds of our adult relationship issues. At the very least, they are an energetic body that filters, and even predicts, the kinds of emotional challenges that we face throughout our lives. I have spent most of my adult life distancing and trying to come closer to some of the most challenging relationships with my original family, so I understand fully the real need to leave those past relationships behind.
At the same time, as a mother of four kids who are my most favorite people in the world, it is heartbreaking for me to imagine them terminating our relationship for any reason.
The space between my childhood relationships and my parenting relationships was grounded in years of releasing the judgments and betrayals in my past, as well as learning how to listen and pay attention to the minor injuries that happen in the course of daily relating.
The only rule that was never broken in our home was walking away angry from an argument. Even silly childhood arguments stew and form into ways of relating that can last for the life of the relationship. Paying attention and healing the small hurts that happen in the course of daily relating goes a long way in building relationships with lasting power.
Yet for many of us, all the injuries that have remained unhealed and all the apologies that remain unspoken coalesce into one of the greatest challenges of the year as we come together with family.
The hurt at the holidays is all the more poignant because we all crave the sense of belonging and acceptance that holiday times espouse. For most of us, there is no simple apology that would suffice; nothing less than radical forgiveness is in order. Sometimes, when I bring up this idea with clients they react indignantly—these people don’t deserve pardon.
What most people miss about forgiveness is that it is an act we perform to free ourselves; letting go of past injury is the key to freedom in the here and now.
But how do we let go? What is the magic secret that frees us to be more of ourselves?
We drop the story line by dropping it. We become more interested in how things are in the here and now. We learn to move closer to reality as it is in the moment. We see how other people are in the moment and feel compassion for the ways that some of our relatives are stuck in the past, in some past version of who we are.
This is the work of a heroic life.
Even if you can’t witness the healing around you, know that the act of bringing the present moment into any interaction sends out ripples of love, changing the fabric of relationships with people you might not even know.
Besides that, befriending reality and letting go of the rest offers us the most precious gift of all—it hands us the best version of ourselves.
~Ed: Bryonie Wise
Like elephant Family on Facebook.
hot on elephant
A letter to the Anger that refuses to Leave Me. 1,407 share Learn to Rock your Social Media & Write Mindfully with Waylon Lewis & Elephant’s Editors. 5 shares 2017 is The Year of Kali, Goddess of Endings & Beginnings. 22,417 shares If you Love her, Don’t Destroy Her. 14,739 shares The Best Marriage Advice from a Divorced Woman. 2,074 shares How to Disentangle ourselves from Karmic Relationships that Drive us Crazy. 160 shares The True Meaning of Friday the 13th (isn’t what we think). 5,263 shares The Technique that helps me make Decisions under Pressure (& has Saved my Life More than Once). 430 shares The 6 Best Spiritual Teachings of Wayne Dyer to help us Get Over Ourselves. 1,858 share Use This Buddhist Practice to Overcome Self-Doubt. 426 shares