Pain is Normal
Ouch! Holy Hell that Hurts. OUCH!
|He took that away from me.||Why?!||I’ll never get that back.|
|I’ll never trust again||The world isn’t fair.||How could you be so evil?|
|God, I was such an idiot.||I wish I could feel happy again||You should have known.|
|She should have known better.||Why did I just _______?||They hurt me beyond words.|
|How come he didn’t just _______?!||Ugh, I should have seen that coming.||That was the worst.|
|If only I had remembered to _________.||My week/month/year/life is ruined.||I wish they were dead.|
These comments all differ immensely. Some are more intense than others, some speak to situations in which others hurt us deeply, some are moments in which we’re beating ourselves up for a stupid choice or misplaced trust. Some are centered on getting even, or at least getting back what’s ours, others speak the despair of losing something irreplaceable.
And all of these statements speak our pain loudly and clearly.
They yell ‘I am in pain’ …. ouch!
But the documents that follow are only partially about that pain; mostly they are about relieving and working through that pain. They are about honoring our pain through recognizing it as a normal and natural part of human life; and these documents are also about the voice that cries out inside us, whether loud or soft, and urges us to make the pain bearable, to move with and through the pain to other places where the peace is greater. That voice could be the beginning of forgiveness.
So how do we make this seemingly impossible leap from pain to peace? Why think about forgiveness? What is its role?
The following pages frame, reframe and suggest several paths through the woods of forgiveness. Your path will be as unique as the event that cries out to be forgiven, yet will be made easier by these various steps and tools.
And, if you’re sitting here thinking ‘forgiveness is bullshit’ or ‘that person hurt me more than anyone in my life; I’ll be dead before I forgive them’… then we have something in common. Many of us have been in that place, holding on to a moment of pain and loss.
Before we move forward, there is something for you to know:
This path of forgiveness is NEVER about ‘letting go,’ never about forgetting, never about making things Right. ¹
Forgiveness is first and foremost about returning the power to yourself; about reclaiming your ability to act and choose how you want to live your life. Forgiveness is about opening up your possibilities, and putting you back in control. Forgiveness is about finding spaces of self-empathy and safety. Forgiveness will remind you of things you know about being human and living in this world.
There is an abundance of research and strategy on mastering forgiveness, a hearty stew of forgiveness methodologies.
You are invited to treat this like a choose-your-own-adventure book, in which there is a core story, but a diversity of pathways.
Becoming the Person You Wish to Be
Think of the person you would like to become. Perhaps that future you is a teacher, or a listener, a guru, a guide, a hero or a friend to all. That person you want to become is likely honest, confident, humble, trusted, loved … perhaps that person is funny, smart, kind, level-headed, inspirational and caring. Whoever he or she is, that person is a beautiful magnification of the qualities already present in you that bring joy to yourself and those around you… that person is like the purest version of yourself.
Because of this, we rarely, if ever, affirm that the person we want to be is wicked, hurtful, angry, egotistical, demanding, sad, betrayed, confused, jealous, or vengeful. And yet, we all experience these emotions.. They wash over us in certain moments, and can remind us that we are not the person we want to be … yet. These reminders can be intense, sometimes crippling. They bring up past hurts and sadnesses from our history. ² They can leave us in despair, with the secret and horrible belief that we may never become who we wish to be.
These moments and emotions can also be powerful reminders that we are human, and that we are all on a journey to move a little closer to who we want to be each day. We stumble, we fall, and we get back up, a little bruised, and yet a little further on our path.
‘Forgiveness” is one way in which we pick ourselves up and take the next step on the path to who we want to be. Forgiveness affirms that our true selves are not who we are at our worst, but rather who we imagine ourselves to be at our best.
The Path of Forgiveness supplies us with the tools to bring the purest form of ourselves into the present. In these pages, we will learn that anger, sadness, vengeance and wickedness are not who we are, but are rather our attempts to negotiate a complicated world filled with complex people. These ‘negative’ ³ emotions are like developmental road-signs; they point to the places in ourselves where we need forgiveness. They underline the moments when we fall short of who we want to be; and, they open us up to the greatest gift we can give ourselves: forgiveness, the ability to live with our sadness and to embrace ourselves and others on a journey of becoming more than we were yesterday.
Forgiveness is the gift we give ourselves, the one that says with loving certainty that we are being the best version of ourselves right now, and that we can be better “tomorrow”.
These collected pages are about that journey of becoming.