Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Will I ever get over it and be able to Forgive?

I remember a friend telling me how long it took her to realize and fully understand that the best thing she could do was to forgive her husband when he walked out on her. In the beginning she was devastated. She felt so stupid that she did not see the “handwriting on the wall.” After all, she loved him and wanted the marriage to work. Yes, there was emotional abuse but she never expected betrayal and certainly not infidelity.

As Kathy continued telling me her story I encouraged her to go deep within herself and allow whatever she was feeling to come out. There was so much anger, grief, pain and shame; so many emotions that at times she wanted to scream, then cry making her feel sick inside. We’ve all been there, feeling that these memories will be seared in our hearts and minds always to return with unexpected emotional force.

Yet, telling your story is the beginning of your healing process. When you feel able, talk about what happened to someone you trust and who will be supportive of you. Tell your story as completely as possible including not only the emotions you are feeling as you tell the story, but what was going on inside of you as the events began to unfold. When you first tell your story, it may be incomplete. You ma need to retell your story to bring all the pieces together, what your feelings were, the meaning of what happened to you and perhaps to those around you. Talk about the question of guilt and responsibility. This may help you later in reconstructing a system of belief that makes sense of undeserved suffering. Remember to breathe as you tell your story. Breathing will help you manage strong emotions. If it is too difficult to tell your story, write about it or draw your story.

An exercise that can help you with your healing process is to do some journaling. Think of a situation where you feel you need to forgive someone and want to work through your painful emotions. Write your story describing what took place in detail. What happened to you and what possibly led up to the situation that you may not have been aware of at first. What were your thoughts and feelings and what meaning did you give to the event. What are your attitudes and beliefs about what happened. If there are several events, develop a separate script for each one. Don’t be surprised if new memories are recovered as you explore old ones. Write down everything you feel about the situation and the person causing you pain. Allow a stream of consciousness to flow across the pages of your journal and spare nothing. Remember that this is your private journal for no one else to see. After you have written everything down, ask yourself, “If I were face to face with this person, what would I say?” Let out the anger and the hurt in what you write and keep on writing until there is nothing left to say. Some questions to think about are “Why did this situation happen to me?”, and “What happened in that other person’s life that may have caused pain and brought him/her to the place they are today?”

You may need to rework your story until you have all the pieces together and that is ok. In my next blog I will help you deal with your strong emotions that you may be having difficulty with and how to put your emotional life back together again.

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