I was sitting on a white, sandy beach in Mexico last week, doing my morning meditation ritual.
It had been a blissful four days of doing absolutely nothing more than working on my tan, reading a trashy novel, drinking Mai-Tais by the pool, and spending my evenings watching the sun set from the hotel lobby as I worked on the outline for my book.
But on that particular day—day four of what was meant to be a zen-like self-care retreat for my normally overly-committed and extended self—I was feeling less than zen.
I was, in fact, feeling quite f*cking pissed off, resentful, and angry.
Nothing out of the ordinary had happened to trigger these unpleasant and unwarranted emotions during what I had come to call paradise these last four days.
What had happened was actually quite ordinary. As was my usual practice, no matter where I am in the world, I ended the evening engaging in silent prayer and meditation, giving thanks for the opportunity to be here at all on this gorgeous, sandy beach with nothing to worry about in the world except myself and what I wanted to be doing in that very moment.
But here’s what kept coming up for me:
The same white hot rage, hurt, and anger I had been pushing down and denying for years at one particular person who had deeply and gut-wrenchingly hurt me.
And not just hurt me. Without being overly-dramatic, what this person did changed my life and affected my capacity to love and trust others in ways that will never in this lifetime be repaired.
As I’m sure many of you can relate, when we are on a spiritual path, when we’ve spent thousands of dollars trying to heal ourselves and find a path toward forgiveness and compassion—whether it be through therapy, coaches, workshops, religious ceremonies, Shamanic journeys, Kundalini yoga, transcendental meditation, self-help books, podcasts, YouTube videos talking about The Power of Now, forgiveness, and letting go, and all that other self-help crap—we sure as hell don’t want to admit that we are still unable to forgive.
Because we’re suppose to be above this kind of thing. We, of all people, are supposed to be more than capable of soldiering through this sort of stuff.
This should be easy-peasy for us so-called “enlightened spiritual warriors” working so diligently on ourselves.
But you know what, all you spiritual warriors? I’m gonna let you in on a little secret. I had a huge revelation in Mexico. And I think it warrants sharing.
You can still walk a spiritual path; you can still be a lightworker; you can still spend your days spreading love, peace, and compassion in the world because that’s what you believe in; you can be a teacher of self-growth and healing, and consider yourself a phenomenal human being—
—and you still have the unequivocal right to decide you simply cannot forgive a person for what they’ve done to you.
Can I tell you how liberating this thought was for me?
Do you know the freedom I felt, giving myself permission after these agonizing years of trying and struggling and ultimately failing to convince myself that until I was able to forgive this person, I could never truly be happy again?
That it was perfectly okay to not forgive them?
You know why?
It’s just not authentic for me.
I don’t feel it in my soul. And if there is anything I’ve learned through the therapy, the coaches, the workshops, the meditation, the self-help books, and the deep soul-searching over these past several years, I’ve learned that if it doesn’t feel right in my soul, then it’s not right for me.
And so today, I gave myself permission to be imperfect in my humanness. I gave myself permission to not forgive this person who did not know me personally, yet inserted themselves so intrusively and destructively into the most sacred, intimate, and personal parts of my life.
Perhaps one day, my spiritual path will lead me to that golden sacred palace many of us struggle in our humanness to get to called “The Palace of Forgiveness.” I have hope that I will get there, since my journey on this planet and in this realm are not yet complete.
But today, I’ve come to accept that I can be exactly where I am and still take comfort in the fact that I’m still a lightworker, a believer, and an activist for love, peace, and compassion, a woman devoted and dedicated to teaching others how to heal and love themselves through the messy, sh*tty, imperfect moments of their lives…
And a phenomenal human being.
My inability to forgive one person does not take any of that away. Nor should it for anyone else out there trying to do the same.
Author: Dina Strada
Editor: Catherine Monkman