It seems the current buzz words to find ultimate happiness are gratitude and forgiveness. Forgiveness is such an interesting concept because we are confronted each day with moments of struggle and then eventually (hopefully) finding understanding. How long do we stay mad at the driver that cut us off or the person at the store that bought the last donut 😊 Seemingly innocent interactions throughout the day that can get us cranky. I wonder how often we really dig deep into the idea of true forgiveness.
Forgiveness can so easily live on the surface but not go into the depths of the real pain. When I was in my mid-twenties I started to explore the concept of forgiveness. I was told to heal from my past, I must forgive those that hurt me. Easier said than done, right? Well I dug deep. I thought if I could really connect to the anguish I would be able to see these childhood situations differently and forgive those involved.
What I am about to share only comes with one intention. To paint a picture of the level of forgiveness I had to come to in my life to be happy. Please understand this is difficult to share mostly because I hope no one comes away thinking “poor girl” or labeling myself or my family. I hope you all connect to the higher purpose of truth, honesty and my own personal journey to true forgiveness.
I had a beautiful loving childhood filled with memories of big family love and all the joys that come with it. I’m flooded with wonderful memories, such as baking bread with my grandmother, cooking and baking anything really, that woman was always in the kitchen 😉 Or hanging out with my aunts and uncles, cruising with my mom in her Toyota Celica or working with my dad on his bike. Some of best memories were hanging out at Roosevelt park with my cousins, smelling the hundreds of roses in bloom.
Sounds perfect, right? Unfortunately, like most lives, there was also some ugliness and despair. For me and my family that pain was that my grandfather drank. When he drank he hurt people, my people, my family. He was viscous and had no mercy. I don’t recall every being physically hurt. I don’t think my family would have let that happen and I don’t believe my grandfather would have physically hurt me. I will forgo the ugly details but to provide an idea of these traumas, it would be like watching a movie with the kind of violence that you close your eyes or look away from the screen because you just don’t want to imagine that pain happening to another person. I have blocked or let go of most of those imagines and the only negative memory that fades away more everyday is hearing my family shout, “Dad’s home, hide Mercy. “
One day my family was saved. My grandfather was diagnosed with diabetes and he would never be able to drink again. I was still a young child, around eight years old, but I could see how it changed everything for us. The biggest gift was to start healing and begin to know my grandfather without the demon. Yeah, of course he’s human and still became angry but the violence subsided and eventually disappeared.
As I entered my adolescents and early twenties, I had little tolerance for my grandfather. I was quick to be angry with him or kept my distance. As a few more years went by and I was being pulled by the universe with a need to grow, heal and be a better person. I started to learn about forgiveness. It seemed to be a very easy concept to grasp. You remember the good stuff, seek to understand a person’s perspective, forgive them with compassion and find peace in your heart. Super easy, right?
As I embarked on my own journey, I started to remember all the things I really loved about my grandfather. How he would tell me and my cousin’s stories, or always ask me to help him with his vegetable gardens, cook for me, care for me and under all the anger, really love me. Mostly I remember seeing so much light in his eyes. The light you see in someone really connected to the universe. By my late twenties, my relationship with my grandfather had shifted and I felt love and kindness for him. I had moved passed what he had done to me and my family and during that process released a great deal of trauma. I thought I had found my way.
So here I am thinking I’m all great at forgiveness, but what I didn’t realize is I only touched the surface of the concept. I had found forgiveness for my grandfather mentally but not nearly as deep as the spirit needs to heal. Luckily, the universe guides us on the healing journey. I believe the first steps I had taken years prior was exactly where I needed to start the forgiveness process. If I would have tried to heal my mind, body, spirit all at once, it would have been overwhelming and likely not possible to go into the depths I eventually uncovered.
The final step to my forgiveness was so unexpected and almost a decade after I started my work on it. I’m sitting on the couch in my crooked little house (yep the miracle house 😉) reading a Reader’s digest article written by a man that had a mean and violent father (still looking for this article to reference.) I didn’t really think anything of it, until the events and situations he described sounded similar to my childhood. The man goes on to talk about how his father had been in WWII and how these vets leaving the war and returning to their families (after seeing so much death and destruction) had no support system. Back then there was no groups, psychologist or counselors, and certainly no systematic approach to support our war vets. Even if there had been support, seeing the worst sides of humanity could fundamentally break a person.
At that moment a flood of sadness washes over me. I instantly remember my grandmother saying “he was never the same after the war.” My grandfather had been honored with metal after metal and was recognized for saving other men in the war. He was a hero and he was cast away when he returned to the states to suffer in agony. I felt so much sorrow for him that I truly understood his pain. My grandfather had passed away several years before this day, but I still spoke to him. I told him I was sorry for everything he had been through and everything he had seen and for the torture and pain he must have had to carry around every day.
You see my final journey to forgiveness was compassion. It wasn’t just remembering the good things about him, but truly understanding this man’s pain, his perspective and his daily struggles. One could say, I’m making excuses for him or he could have decided to be a better man but that would be coming from a view of judgement and not compassion and connection. My grandfather was a great man, a hero and someone I am proud to say I knew. And my forgiveness for the wrongs he did will last lifetimes. Now my very first thought whenever I think of my grandfather is his smiling eyes full of light.
Love you Grandpa. I hope you have found peace in heaven.
If you are working on forgiveness, I hope you can dive deep into your spirit. That you can explore what the real pain is and uncover the deepest trauma. And once you have uncovered the pain, you can start healing by focusing on the positives of that person and find compassion for whatever may have occurred in their lives. In my experience, this brings you to true forgiveness and a healed spirit. May you be guided and surrounded with love and support through your own healing journey.
Love and light, Mercy