– Contributed by Wee C
“When you hold resentment toward another, you are bound to that person or condition by an emotional link that is stronger than steel. Forgiveness is the only way to dissolve that link and get free.” – Catherine Ponder
Oh boy. Ain’t that the truth. “An emotional link stronger than steel.” Swallow that boys and girls. Take a big deep breath and swallow that. Hits like a ton of bricks, eh? Even the most forgiving amongst us isn’t free from memories of things people have said, done, or NOT said or done to us, making us inextricably tied to those people in our lives. Yeah, yeah, we may think we’ve forgiven, but I’d argue that we’re much less likely to forget (which really means we haven’t forgiven at all…following me?). Yes, I may have theoretically forgiven the kids who teased me about my highly-womanly body (that’s a nice AKA for chubby), or the boys who broke my heart (many of whom had no idea they were the source of my angst), or the people who made me feel as though I wasn’t cool enough, smart enough, fabulous enough (perhaps we should do a comparison now, yes?). But let’s be honest, even following my seeming forgiveness, I’ve been holding onto those memories like a lottery winner with a death grip on their winning ticket. Too bad what I’ve been holding onto hasn’t been nearly as liberating…
But wait. Could it not be? What if all that stinking baggage could actually be a source of strength? What if situations that at one point caused angst, anxiety and anger could bring peace, strength and serenity? That’s where Big L and I landed over pizza and wine (the food of philosophers, of course). Perhaps it was time to shed ourselves of all that silliness, to truly forgive, and to melt that steel into a puddle of mush. But you can’t melt steel with your kitchen blow torch, and, likewise, you certainly can’t melt emotional steel with a box of tissues and a few tears. No, it takes something much bigger than that.
Enter my November maintenance and one of Big L’s 30 Things. Our strategy for conquering the steel wasn’t complicated, but it was intense. It involved Thai food and Sangrias (we do our best thinking over food), a stack of plain white paper, some pretty markers and two very open minds. Sounds threatening, yes? Here’s how it went down: November 10, we gathered at my homestead, and quietly wrote letters to everyone who we felt we had to forgive. We wrote about how they had hurt us, upset us or made us feel less than we are. And at the end of each letter, we forgave them. Silently, we exchanged our letters, read one anothers and nothing more was spoken of them. I knew Big L’s deep dark pain and she knew mine and the unspoken understanding between us said way more than any verbal commentary could.
Tell me you don’t think we stopped there? That’s not nearly dramatic enough. The next morning we burned those suckers to ash. That’s right. We burned every, single last one of those wrongs and shed them from our lives forever. Well, the forever part might be a bit of a stretch, but what I’ll tell you is that in burning those letters we burned our ability to indulge in distant memories and hurt. We have shed that baggage and when it creeps into our minds, we know that we have no choice but to excuse it and move on. We’ve already dealt with it…it doesn’t get any more of our time or energy.
I know, I know. All this business may feel like a bit much for some of you well-balanced readers, but I’m telling you, there’s not one of you out there that’s not carrying anger or hurt towards someone. And if you’re self-aware enough to recognize it (perhaps a wee bit backhanded?), then take this challenge on yourself. It’s less about the burning and more about forcing yourself to write it out and forgive the person or people. But don’t leave the burning out. It’s a pretty liberating experience…and perhaps the most important step in melting the negative emotional link(s) between you and the people in your life.