“Genuine forgiveness does not deny anger but faces it head-on.” ~Alice Duer Miller
The man who I thought was my soul mate walked out on me fourteen years ago. He immediately remarried a lovely, beautiful woman who was everything I was not.
I am desperate to fall in love. I’m thirty-eight. I want a baby. I want a relationship. I feel alone.
A year ago, I fell unexpectedly in love with my photographer. Yes, star-struck romantics, it was just like the movies. Shy, awkward woman gets pictures taken for her brand-building website, and she is completely unraveled by his boyish sweetness and the power of his lens.
I had never felt so beautiful, so free, so seen, so celebrated. It was a wham-bam-thank-you-mam whirlwind romance. We “hung” out only four times.
But I had felt the life times between us, even if he didn’t. And he didn’t. He didn’t choose me. But that didn’t stop me from becoming a crazy woman. Obsessed.
I cried every other day, made up stories, fantasies. Of course we had shared past lives together. He was my “real” soul mate.
Even if my mind was making up the stories, my body remembered. Why else would I be so upset? I felt like I was dying, my heart was being squeezed into blackness, and all I could do to get past the tears was scream.
I had many, many moments that looked like this:
Imagine me, on my bed, with a box of tissues, crying from the pit of my soul. Snot coming out my nose and spit out my mouth, all dripping into a sticky pool on my bed. I’m angrily screaming out and yelling “Why?!? Haven’t I suffered enough pain? I’ve done what I thought was right. I’ve prayed. Meditated. Done good deeds. Challenged myself. Don’t I deserve love? The man I want? What can I do differently? What is wrong with me? Why am I not blessed? What do I have to DO-O-O-O-O-O-O-O?!”
Not a pretty scene.
It was gut-wrenchingly painful being in that victim hell realm. I had to get out. But how?
How do you get out of your own way? How do you survive when you are drowning in a pit of dreadful dark emotions and thoughts? All I could think about was that penetrating question, “Universe, what do I have to do??
Do? What do I have to do, right? Because obviously, I did something wrong or didn’t do something right to win his love.
In this two-lettered word, do, I realized everything. It wasn’t about doing. It was about surrendering, letting go, and trusting in the organic flow of life.
I constantly forget this, and the universe kindly reminded me of my sticky attachments to the external, yet again. Then, to make matters worse, that little voice crept up and said in its annoying voice, “You need to look inside for love, not on the outside.”
Who’s heard that before?
And I say back defiantly, “Easy for you to say. I’m only human. I’m not an enlightened being. I want love, damn-it. Love!”
Then, I stopped. I took a breath, dropped into my body, and surrendered. And then surrendered some more.
Finally, I said to myself, “It’s okay to want love. It makes me a loving human being. It’s even okay that I became a crazed, angry woman, mad at the world, making up fantastical, delusional stories. It happens. But, mainly it’s okay because deep, deep down inside myself there was a lie I was telling myself.
I was telling myself that it was my fault for being so unlovable, so broken that these men didn’t choose me. And of course, I know that’s not true.
At first, I felt like an idiot. Geez, not the stupid loathing-lack-of self-love-thing again. But then I remembered to give myself empathy. I forgave myself for my lie because I know that many of us on this planet have the same one.
That is what makes us human.
Self-acceptance, forgiveness, and self-love washed over me. And I felt a little bit better, lighter. I felt like I was thrown a divine rope to pull me out of that pit of despair.
I went through this routine about 100 more times, until one day, months later, I felt normal, clearer, and joy eventually snuck in again. I haven’t met Mr. Right yet, but I’m hopeful. I’m more grounded, more open, more trusting, and less attached.
And when I start to feel the chatter of my mind and those icky feelings bubble up again, I remind myself of what I learned months before. There is a universal process of forgiving and letting go. We each have our own way of describing it, but mine goes something like this.
1. Acknowledge what you are feeling, your anger, your sadness, and your pain.
2. Release it. Express it (safely, away from blunt objects, and in the comforts of your home). Don’t hold it in your body to fester and turn into disease!
3. Ask yourself the tough questions, and answer truthfully until you get to the very bottom of your pit of despair. There, you will find the treasure: the lie you have been telling yourself.
4. Be gentle. Accept your lie. Forgive yourself for telling it.
5. Lovingly let it go and rewrite your story. For me, it was: “I’m not unlovable. I’m lovable, and love will come to me in its perfect timing! Yahooo!”
6. Finally, chuckle at the absurdity of it all, and remind someone else of this human process of death, rebirth, and growth through your own sharing, storytelling, and your art.
Breathe. Breathe. Breathe. And smile.
Photo by Randy Heinitz