THE JOURNEY TO FORGIVENESS
August 1, 2019
When I think of the idea that friends are the family that we choose, my heart warms. And as I reflect on the friendships I’ve chosen that have been poisonous for me, my heart drops. It is the responsibility of family that make the ups and downs of friendships feel different than the ones you experience with the kin assigned to you at birth — “family” means that the feuds and traumas you experience are at least partly your responsibility and your doing. These are the people you chose.
To avoid sounding like a tabloid, or go on a diatribe, I’ll keep it brief, and say that I intentionally cut out people in my life who were toxic and betrayed me in the worst ways I could imagine. At this moment of my life, this statement feels true, dramatic and big because I’ve lived more; but at the time, I felt deeply betrayed and abandoned by people who I thought were friends. I discontinued these relationships, and the ensuing loneliness and despair led me to a spiritual practice (along with other traumatic events) that eventually led me to forgiveness.
If I’m being truthful, I never believed in forgiveness when I honestly reflected on the word, and more importantly, on the idea behind it. Forgiveness felt a gift to those who’d harmed me. Why extend goodness to people that brought me toxicity?
There are countless new age, spiritual and religious ideas that echoed the notion that forgiveness isn’t for the other but for oneself. This idea escaped me until I removed myself from the friend group, that turned toxic.
There was the normal surface residual emotions you’d expect from a situation: a bitter taste (if you seek them out), a brief memory of harmful incidents experienced, and an impulse to defend oneself from the accustomed attacks. Such reactions turned into calling cards for my soul. I became someone more concerned with being hard, cold, and untouchable — unable to be harmed — and those goals became essential to my personality. I could feel myself being less likeable, more insatiable, and more distant from the world. I avoided new people and environments because everything and everybody wasn’t neutral in my mind; it was all a potential to feel pain again.
Every second living like this felt like an eternity inside of Hell. I did not know how the people who harmed me and I separated, but I knew I was miserable. I knew that I wanted to either fall back in love with living, or die.
After last night, the Super Black New Moon in Leo has arrived and everyone is priming themselves to spiritually manifest something. One of my social media followers asked me if I had any rituals in order to manifest the things you want. The question immediately returned me to the experiences of bitterness: I thought about how happy, how grateful, how enthusiastic I am about life now versus how suicidal and nihilistic I was then. I knew that the only accurate answer was letting God’s (or Goddess’, or the universe’s, or the Divine) light shine in my life, and emptying those places where I held a deep, dark bitterness towards people that are — although estranged and toxic — my family. I had to tell my online friend that the ritual was “forgiveness,” although I had not thought of it like that.
Once spring cameI’d listen to Pharoah Sanders and walk around my Brooklyn community, and envision everyone that harmed me totally in love, totally happy, and absolutely enveloped in abundance. Good health, good love, good money, good spirits. I found that this practice alchemized the tense feelings and ideas I had towards those people into something softer. It had nothing to do with allowing the person to be in my life or believing their behavior to be innocent; it was perspective.
During those walks I thought about how sad it was that we live in a world where personalities and moments are crafted by oppression. Many of us have been put into situations of harm by those that love us, because for a brief (or, in some cases, elongated) moment they forgot humanity’s primary project: to remember that we are one. Regardless of bodies, histories, beliefs and personalities, the great project of all of our lifetimes is to get past the moments, and return to love, to explore love. I couldn’t do that in the past; and today, I’m grateful I couldn’t do it then because of the elevation of the integrity of love I received in my current relationships. However, I recognize the inherent tragedy of feeling this way, because part of my project for the foreseeable future will remain incomplete.
It’s in the recognition that I had to forgive myself and begin to wish my own self wellness, abundance, and love — able to believe it because if I turned my foes into family, if only in my imagination — so surely I could do this for the most important relationship that I’ll ever hold in this lifetime: the one with myself. It was then that I was able to to manifest everything I wanted, including my bliss.