Updated: Jun 24
“Coupled with gratitude is forgiveness, without the first there isn’t the strength to pursue the latter.”
-From the Fire Ring Blog, “Gifts of Gratitude”, Vol.1 No.5, J.M. Jordan
The process of healing from childhood created some climactic moments where I reassured the girl within that I was now safe, stronger, and more capable. Once I became convinced of these things, it was time to focus on forgiveness. This task would take raw courage as I faced the doors that had been slammed shut with fear and rage.
Acceptance of the traumas worked as hinges on the door to my past. Once unlocked and with the door open wide, I crossed the threshold. Waiting for me on the other side was my childhood bedroom where some of the pain had occurred. Standing in this room, my adult self was reassured of her safety and urged to proceed. I turned my attention to the unmade bed and quickly worked to straighten it. Then I took a seat at the desk and slowly the bright colors around me began to fade. With a little urging, I took out some paper and a pen from the desk drawer and began to write a letter of forgiveness. By the time I was done, the vivid color of the memory had turned to black and white. This room no longer held anything for me, and so I quietly left the letter there and walked away.
This was an experience that left no doubt about the diagnosis I’d received. I was in treatment for Complex Post-traumatic Stress Disorder. In this particular session of EMDR treatment, I opened my eyes and felt the rage and fear I’d carried for so long begin to melt away. The swing of emotions became orderly, and it was clear that through treatment and vigilant maintenance, I could begin to live a normal life.
My thoughts turned to Archbishop Tutu who elaborated in The Book of Joy, on Nelson Mandela’s transformation during the length of his incarceration.
“Mandela and his fellow political prisoners had used their time to develop their mind and their character so that they would someday be ready to rule the country.”
Thinking on this and several other examples the Archbishop shared, I began to consider where I was, the reality of it all. Childhood had been like a prison and instead of working toward healing, I’d wallowed in pain and anguish for a long, long time. This was a lightbulb moment. In order to rule my own life, I would have to partner with forgiveness to move forward.
The rebuilding path was not one I could walk alone. Coupled with forgiveness, I had to learn to trust not only the process but the people who joined me in this journey. Fortunately, I was and continue to be blessed with a strong community, children who cover me in unconditional love, and the knowledge of one who also suffered so that I could make the steep climb to a truer sense of self. He is my way, truth, and life.
But I trust in your unfailing love.
I will rejoice because you have rescued me.
I will sing to the Lord because he is good to me.
Psalm 13:5-6 NLT
-From the Fire Ring Blog, Vol.1, No.8