ARE YOU READY TO FORGIVE? The complicated, gritty path to grace.
It’s complex. It’s confusing. It’s deeply particular. It’s the through-line of most mystical teachings:
I’m a “Forgiveness Aspirant.” I’m just as good at holding a grudge as I am at letting it go, but for the most part, I want to be as gracious as possible, and I really do believe that forgiveness is the primary Light source of an illumined existence.
That said, choosing—at a critical moment—not to forgive was one of the most spiritual, Soul-affirming acts of my life.
For me, divorce was like having my bones broken very, very slowly, one limb after the next, and then each rib—which made it difficult to breathe for a long time. It was brutal. It didn’t matter that I was the one walking away. I had to crawl my way back into the Light. The dismantling of the marriage agreement itself was very civilized and straightforward. But I had no idea that the real work had just begun. You can’t move on to a new life until you unpack the old one—or burn it down to the ground.
So, I unpacked. I also torched, and past-life-regressed, and journaled, and therapized, and danced, and raged, and grieved, and owned my way through every inch of the journey. I had to go back and do some of it over again, just to make sure it was out of my system. I was not going to take the past into my future. I held up each memory and emotion to surmise: is this a Truth or is this a lie? I was extremely thorough. And when my work was done, which took way longer than I would have preferred, I had become one of those rebirthed, empowered woman clichés. All I could say when asked was, “I’m better than ever. Like,better than ever.”
Toward the end of that long trip, I was working with an exquisite healer—she’s a total energy ninja. We were working on getting my adrenals back in shape. Cutting some energy cords, putting some astral protection into place...you know, the usual. I’d had a series of disturbing dreams that week, indicators of “intrusions,” you could say. I was ready to analyze them, up my frankincense oil intake, chant some Durga mantras, and keep on keeping on.
At the end of a text exchange we were having about the effects of Light meditation on the nervous system, this Lady Ninja of the Light wrote, “D, you have to forgive him.” My face flushed with heat and my stomachsank. It wasn’t what I was expecting to hear. I’d come so far. My life was beginning to shimmer. My money was mine, I was back in my body, my heart was lush with Love and gratitude. So much of my reinvention had been about reckoning and validating my sanity for all the times that I’d thought I was crazy. I was finally seeing clearly. I had boundaries in place. I was over it.
I read that sentence over three times. “D, you have to forgive him.” Then I burst into hot, panicked tears. I’d been calm just moments before. Now I was frantic. Because here’s what I heard echoing inside of the words “forgive him”:
“Dismantle your boundaries, make yourself wrong, admit to things you never did so everyone thinks you’re nicer and saner than you may appear, let him back into your heart, and effectively dissolve your last few years of intense self-scrutiny and resurrection. And while you’re at it, let him into your house, be friendly, be a progressive family unit, and for God’s sake, smile more—because that is what it means to be a truly spiritual person, Danielle.”
At least that’s how I interpreted it.
My phone rang. (Lady Ninja of the Light is so tuned in that she could feel my panic across the country.) I didn’t bother to compose myself before I answered. I just received the call and wept into the phone.
Let me pause here and say that this ninja healer is one of the most cherished beings in my life. When I figure out one of the esoteric riddles she gives me, I feel accomplished. I want to continue learning from her as long as I can. Her respect matters to me—a lot.
She listened gently on the other end of the line as I cried and cried.
After a minute or so, she said, “D?”
I felt like I was in a movie version of an ancient Greek myth. I was the sweaty protagonist, sword in hand, tired as hell, trying to stay alive in a succession of tests. Do I go left down the maze, or right? Do I scale the wall, or do I accept defeat?
I took a stuttered but full inhale because in that moment, I knew which way I was going to go. I also knew that my beloved mentor would see me as an unfit spiritual student, and our time together would come to an end.
“I’m sorry,” I broke the silence. “But I just can’t do it.” Long pause. “I can’t forgive if it means letting him back into my heart. I’ve come too far.” Silence. What I was thinking was,I know you think I’m a loser, but I really have no choice.Thank you for working with me; you can break up with me now.
I wanted to be spiritually respectable, but I just couldn’t care about “evolving” anymore. For once, I was only exactly where I was. No aspiration, all acceptance. My knowing was coursing through my body; it felt impossibly wrong to abandon it. So there I stood, with my inconvenient Truth. I don’t think I’ve ever been as human as I was in that moment.
And then Lady Light burst out laughing heroh, honey-childkind of laugh. “Oh, God no! You do not have to give him the time of day. Ever again. Noooo. Just forgive his SOUL!” She laughed some more. “It’s actually the hardest work to do—because that’s what’s real.”
“So don’t let down my guard?” I said, all snuffly and hopeful.
“Nope. Please don’t.”
“Forgive his Soul?” I confirmed.
“Yep. The biggest thing there is.”
“Oh! Well I can do THAT! I’m halfway there!”
“You’re way more than halfway there. This is the finish line,” she affirmed.
“Well, that’s all you needed to say!” Then we laughed that awesome post-sobbing, post-skill-testing-question, full-bodied woman laugh. Sweet relief! I was going to stay the course:
Keep it real, aim high, do the divine work. T W E E T ♥
Of course, it wasn’t quite that easy—the actual forgiveness practice of my Soul addressing his was profoundly painful at times. But it didn’t last long. At that stage, it was like removing slivers instead of cracking bones.
I sat in meditation, and over the course of many months, I streamed Light and Love to his Higher Self. I pictured him standing directly in front of me and I gazed at him with total kindness. If that felt too close for comfort on that day, then I’d just imagine him as a Light form of pure energy. I allowed his Soul to come near to mine again. I let myself adore who hetrulyis. And I thanked him, over and over again, for participating in our agreement to play out what we did in this lifetime. I took it a step further and extended the same gratitude to all of the people in his life. I prayed for their well-being. I cherished his very Soul. Completely.
By honouring my humanity, I got fuller access to my divine power. On Earth, in the day-to-day, my boundaries stayed very much intact. And I moved forward much more freely, navigating with a lighter heart.
Most of us have a forgiveness story we’re in the midst of unravelling. Send this to someone who needs to give themselves a break, or give up their grudge. xo.
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Photo Credit: Catherine Just