and our hurt, mostly - I believe - because we think we will stay safer from any repeat performances.
I have heard the forgiveness stories, and they are powerful. They attract me. I like what they say they deliver: freedom from attachment to the hurt, freedom to grow and live freer. That sounds really good to me.
When my partner died in 2013, it was a mess. His family hated me - always had, and now was their opportunity to let it all out - and during the last month of his life, he sided with his daughters' mean-spirited and incorrect assessments of me. They negated my 13-year relationship with this man, and he - out of his fear more of their anger than alignment with my love - allowed that to happen. That was intensely painful.
Needless to say, when he passed, there were post-death blame-fests to endure. Or were there?
They were his daughters (in their 60's), and they too were in pain about his ill health and his oncoming transition). And I found myself once again under attack, accused of financially manipulating my partner. Would that I had been that type! Would that he had had enough money for me to even have that thought in my head! Woe is me - he was not much more financially well-endowed than I!
In any case, I was finally at the end of my understanding rope. Pushed to the verge, in grief about my loss, I screamed at one of these women that if she couldn't be respectful of me, she could FUCK OFF. And I yelled it. Loudly. So loudly, I sometimes wonder if she could even hear it - it was probably so distorted through the cell phone's lousy sound system. Still, I know she got the message.
I worried about that anger. I called spiritual friends. And to a person - to a woman - they all said it was about time I had said something. Forbearance had gone too far.
There is something that a lot of us women do - and when we are spiritual women we do it to a degree of unnecessary madness - and that is to try to be so understanding, so nice, that we don't permit ourselves our anger, our right to speak up, our right to say NO! By doing so, we are not permitting ourselves our humanness! Our very right to be human!
Isn't that amazing?
A friend of mine told me just last night that she had rather recently in her life learned that she has the right to say "ouch" when something hurts, emotionally. When she is mistreated, disrespected, blamed, shamed.
So, in our collective psyche, somewhere, anger is not allowed.
Which is why, as fierce girls, we have to reclaim it. We have to be allowed to say "ouch".
As for me, after my partner died, and after I got rid of his abusive family, I spent no fewer than 6 months yelling at him, and at them, using words you don't - as they say - use in church. I knew that I needed to say my truths! I knew I would never ever be able to tell these people what I really thought, and I would never ever convince them that they had been cruel.
But there was one person who could hear it, and that was me.
None of my words, none of my emotion, was thrown into a void. I felt and heard my partner's responses of apology from the other side. And I told him exactly what I thought of him.
Is this forgiveness?
It is. In an odd way, it is. It is at least the precursor. If I can't allow myself to be human, to say "ouch", to say "No you may NOT abuse me!", then I can't be complete and whole. I can't have forgiven myself for denying myself the opportunity to be a 360-degree woman, a 360-degree human being.
Now that I have had my say, now that I have gotten some distance from the heat of the experience, now that I understand that forgiveness is not about saying "hey, it's okay you hurt me", but is instead about allowing myself not to cling to that energy, now I can work on forgiveness.
The minister, Rev. Linda, at CSLGC, gave us this forgiveness prayer to say, 21 times, for 21 days, and whenever we really need to just feel even a little bit better:
_________, I love you, I bless you, I forgive you, and I release you to your highest good.
When you use it, don't forget that you can even use it on yourself.
And by the way, where violence is not preferred nor recommended nor applauded, anger is most certainly allowed.
You can contact Lori at support@GoodbyeGoodGirl.com for talks, coaching and workshops.
Lori Ellen Kirstein is a woman whose mission is to empower other women to know their Strengths, to express themselves, to define themselves in empoweringly truthful ways, and to have a nourishing, powerful impact on the world, individually and together.