The past can define us. The past can control us. The past can be forgiven. The past can be let go of. The past can have tools for growth. The past can be released. It can be released with forgiveness and gratitude for never having to revisit it, gratefulness that those experiences helped shape who you are today. The past has the potential to take us over or to set us free. It’s up to us what we want to do.
Holding onto hurt.
”Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies” – Nelson Mandela
I’ve had a lot of reasons to hold onto past hurts and wounds from people in my life.
At least I thought I did.
To me, life was being thrown in my face, hurts were the regular and I was holding onto every single one. As I saw it, it was my duty. Who else was going to hold them accountable?!
As time went on, I carried my pain and resentment upon my shoulders, my heart, and my mind. Time went on and still no apologies came. I fasten more baggage and more pain to the unconsciousness of people in their refusal to own up to mistakes they made.
I felt justified.
I felt a righteous anger within me, and maybe that was good for a time. I had justified my hatred for so long and had let it take root deep within me.
I have no remorse.
I let it go on for so long that the contrast to who I once was and who I was becoming was very apparent.
I realized that I was not meant to hold onto this pain any longer.
It went on like this for years before I got fed up and cried out saying, “Whatever I’m doing is not working, something needs to change. I give up. I don’t know what to do!”.
The moment I said this, my Inner voice responded in that small way it does, “Forgive.”
To this, my heart broke.
Was my unforgiveness causing all of this pain?
I knew, deep down, it was.
I then responded, “How do I forgive? I don’t know how.”
I really think that just the admission of not knowing how to forgive helped. At that point I really wanted it and it became something from beyond myself that allowed the offenses to be let go of. I saw the connections and ties I was making. I saw how, if I’d hold onto them, they would continue to hold on to me. That I’d be in a cage of past hurts that were not my place to hold onto anymore.
That knowledge alone helped me.
Knowing that I was now living in a place of cages and chains, I had to let go. I had to forgive.
What forgiveness means to me.
To me, forgiveness doesn’t mean that you’re justifying the persons actions as “OK”. It just means that you’re moving beyond the hurt, because you’ve learned that it is holding you down instead of setting you free. And it’s enabling you from what you were supposed to learn about yourself. Holding onto it no longer serves you.
Just feeling the warmth and light from the idea of never having to hold onto that pain again was incentive for me. I felt the freedom that I’d feel if I could truly release the people who hurt me.
I started to ask for my mind to switch it’s thought patterns. I asked for understanding. And I got my request.
I started to see that these sucky situations I was in, these horrible circumstances, helped make me who I am today. How they made me question everything about life and our purpose in it. It led me to not just believe what everyone else was saying, but to truly believe the things that were revealed to me in the stillness. In the quiet places of my heart. I saw the power that was being handed to me because of owning my own story and working through and beyond past hurts. I felt so strongly that it encouraged me to move beyond the circumstances and to see the big picture.
I had the thought, “I’m not going to hide my light anymore.” I can’t. I can’t stay in the past with those hurts because I have things to do that are being drawn and pulled out of me. So I let it go. I didn’t excuse or validate the actions of others but I did thank them for helping show me this beautiful, powerful, and encouraging woman who I was finding through all the pain.
So I chose to let go. I chose to unfold and bloom.