Discovering Power Through Forgiveness

The night that Hurricane Irma moved through here in south Florida, September 10th,  and we had lost power, I sat reading on my kindle by the open window. I read a book by Dr. Wayne Dyer In Spirit”  in which he spoke of forgiveness and Immaculee Ilibagiza, calling her a living Saint. I had previously bought a book by Immaculee, “Left to Tell“,  for my kindle but I hadn’t read it yet. I had read some of it earlier after watching “The Power of the Heart”, but this time I was re-introduced to her story of survival through the 1994 Rwandan Genocide through “In Spirit” as I previously mentioned. I must admit here and now that I’m so moved by the story of Immaculee Ilibagiza that every time I say her name my eyes well up with tears.

If you’re not familiar with Immaculee, I suggest you read her story or watch a few videos on YouTube of her talking about it. If you’ve watched the movie, “The Power of the Heart”, her story is there as well. If you haven’t watched the movie, I suggest you do so, not just for Immaculee’s story, but for the beautiful and powerful messages contained in the movie.

Immaculee Ilibagiza was in hiding for 91 days with 7 other women in a tiny little secret bathroom (who has secret bathrooms?!) at a pastor’s home. These women hid for their lives as the Hutu people (9 million pop.) hunted the Tutsi people (1 million) and slaughtered them by the masses with machetes. In the end, 800 thousand Tutsi were murdered, including Immaculee’s mother and father and other members of her family. Immaculee survived and came out weighing 65 pounds! She was 5’9!

I can’t even begin to imagine the utter and sheer horror these women faced daily in a tiny bathroom, where they could not make a sound for fear the people in the house would know of their existence. Horrific. But what touched me the most, and what CHALLENGED me (and still does) is after everything she had to suffer and endure, for 91 days in hiding in a tiny bathroom with 7 other women, unbathed ,and nearly starved, was her resolve to FORGIVE the people, the Hutu people who would have seen her dead if they’d have found her! To FORGIVE the Hutu for killing her parents and other family and so many of her people! To FORGIVE them …

” for they know not what they do.”

In that tiny bathroom, Immaculee learned how to be One with the God she wholeheartedly believes in. She learned to see with and through those eyes to find the power from that FORGIVENESS to move on with her life. I sobbed.

I sobbed.

I broke down.

I wept so many tears.

As I read Immaculee’s words, I felt such power moving through me, so much so I clenched my heart. I felt the pain of my own soul crying out. I heard myself asking out loud, “Why do we here have so much hatred for each other?” From today’s issues of White Supremacy to trans-issues (the trans-women who are boldly proclaiming it’s OK to act out violently against women who don’t agree with them!), from religious beliefs to sexual orientation, to class and culture, from gender identification to XXX …

Even deep hatred for our own selves.

The hatred seems to know no bounds in the world today. Especially right here in our hearts. This is where it starts. This is where it can stop. It begins with us taking stock, owning up and understanding this truth.

Red heart.

“I Forgive”

Inspired by Immaculee Ilibagiza’s story of her survival through the Rwandan genocide and her incredible divine power to transform life through forgiveness, I’ve created for myself a journal called “I Forgive”.

If Immaculee Ilibagiza can forgive the people who MURDERED her own parents, surely I can forgive those experiences and people in my life I feel have “done me wrong”, or hurt me in my past from as far back as I can remember, to those I’ve allowed to hurt me in the present day.

I don’t need to hold that anger, ugliness, and pain in my heart. I am only destroying parts of my own heart and denying myself the happiness, joy, health, wealth, and abundance I rightfully deserve, that all human beings deserve.

I’ve done a lot of personal work and letting go over the years but what I’ve come to understand it’s not a “one-time” deal. We can only let go of so much at one time before it loses its meaning and power to “let go”. We can not say, “I let go and forgive everything ever wronged to me” … no, it’s too vague and lacks the power that forgiveness actually has.

We need to be specific.

That’s the hard part, but once named and written, we CAN Forgive it and let it go.

Dare I say it?

“Yes, we can!”

I Forgive

I was surprised at my first entry:

I forgive my mom for not being the kind of mother to me everyone else had growing up. I forgive her for being sick and being unable to care for me and raise me. I forgive her for sending me to Ohio to be raised by her mother and father.” 

I was shocked that when I put the pen to paper those were the first things to come up for me. I was always so close to my mom when she was alive. But apparently, this was something deep within. It was real. Parts of self, my little girl self, had a voice and those were her words. I ended each section (dealing with a person or event & experience) with:

“My Power to Forgive is not a pardon, nor does it extend excuse to what wrong I perceive was done to me. My Power to Forgive is an acknowledgment that the fate of the condition of my own mind, heart, and soul is in my hands. I recognize that I wield the sword of power to Love or Hate and hold it in my whole being. What I choose transforms the Sword I wield and the state of my being and so I choose Forgiveness.  I choose to set myself free. I choose transformation and happiness through the power of Forgiveness which is Love. “

This is what feels right for me.

So far I’ve written up from my childhood to my teen years, my toxic marriage to my abusive ex-husband, Chris, who is, to this day, in total and absolute denial of any wrongdoing on his or his family’s part and blames me for everything as if he wasn’t there and involved at all.

Still, I’ve forgiven him.

And I’m working daily on the part where I send him nothing but love. Right now I send simply nothing but nothing. However, I have forgiven him.  I want to get to a place where I can actually send love. Even if he doesn’t know it, I will know it. But that time is not yet.

Not yet.

To be honest, I am sure I will write, “I forgive Chris for xxx” several more times to come as I’m sure I will with many things. But those things once visited will be forgiven, cleansed and never spoken of again.

I’ve written about my children who, as any parent is likely to know, will take you through it as they grow. Although it may be part of their natural process of transitioning from child to teenager, and often through the early ages of adulthood, it can be quite painful and agonizing.

I have forgiven them.

I’ve written about friendships I’ve let go of this year, friendships that weren’t serving my highest purpose at all. One friend whom I called my sister, a priestess I initiated into the mysteries of women and Goddess, seemed to be only a taker. All she did was take from me, never offering anything in return. She learned from me as I offered freely wisdom teachings, spiritual counsel, etc. and she gave nothing in return. Not even the courage to speak up and stand in her truth when she felt something was wrong, but instead cowardly walk away, saying nothing.

I have forgiven her.

I let it go. Moving on into the pure blissful flow.

Because that’s what Forgiveness does.Forgiveness

I allow whatever comes through and up asking for forgiveness. It’s amazing because as I’ve said before, I’ve done so much personal work and “forgiveness”  I thought I was done. We’re never done. This is ongoing. This is the “Forgiveness Confessional” and should be done daily or at the very least, weekly. I’ve just recently started to write about myself.

This is tough.

I’m forced to look into the mirror of my soul, the things I am seeing there I do not like. They are ugly, and they are painful.  Yet, it’s these very things that I’ve held onto so tightly.

Yet, it’s these very things that I’m holding onto with a death grip as if I can’t let go of them.

But I can. And I will. And I am.

And I will. And I am.

And I am.

I am struggling with it. I feel much resistance to writing certain things that I need forgiveness from my Self for. It’s not for fear if anyone sees, but having to look directly into it, that mirror of my own soul. It’s not about being unable to admit the wrongs I’ve done to other people, which have been plenty. Not that I’m proud of that, but I own it.

For me, it’s admitting what I’ve done to my Self.

Having to sit with a pen to paper and writing out those thoughts, those memories; confessing the horrible sins I’ve done to my own self has been the most difficult. Dealing with simply having to admit my wrong in the first place, the wrong I’ve held onto to punish myself for in a myriad of ways, even unconsciously.

But again I remember I have the Power to Forgive, even myself and most importantly myself! And I’m admitting, I’m writing, and I’m forgiving…

My Self.

Rumi

The Power of Forgiveness Isn’t For The Weak

If you say you “can’t forgive xxx” then it’s because you choose not to. Like it or not, it’s that simple.

Remember Immaculee Ilibagiza, who forgave the Hutu people who carried out a mass genocide of her people, the Tutsi in Rwanda. Immaculee found the power to Forgive even those individuals who murdered her family and forced her into hiding in a tiny bathroom 7 other women for 91 days with barely enough room to stand.

It is untrue to say you “can’t forgive” because you can. It’s that you instead “won’t forgive” and willingly choose to hold on to that pain, that anger, that hatred, and allow it to eat pieces of your heart and soul up inside.

You have that right.

You have free will.

No one will take it from you but you’d better own that choice.

If you make the choice to be unforgiving and hold on to your pain, your anger, and your hatred, then you should understand fully that you don’t have the right to blame anyone else for your unhappiness but yourself. 

It’s yours by choice.

Own it.

I would just ask that you really think about the immense power of Forgiveness that is in your hands. You hold it, the Power of it is yours. That Power determines the fate of the condition of your heart, mind, and soul.

May you choose wisely.

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8 Pearls Of Light That Guided Me Through Hell

It’s been some time since I’ve been here to this place, and shared any thoughts and random musings about anything at all. Whew! Well let me tell you I’ve been busy moving through this thing in life we call “change”. I thought about writing a tell-all post about what transpired over the last several months but realized that would make for a longer post than I wanted to write. Further, I don’t want to go backwards mentally, emotionally or spiritually.

But– I also need to purge before I can move on and write the really good stuff. And perhaps in my purging process, how I managed to make my light in the middle of this hell might be of use to someone out there going through their own hell. If it helps even one person other than myself then it is worth it.

The Big Move

After living in our house on Schiller Ave in Akron Ohio for over eight and half years, in the middle to late November of last year, my youngest three daughters and I got rid of everything we had, and what we decided to keep we stored in a 5 x7x8 ft U-Box from U-Haul to have shipped to our destination. What we couldn’t fit in there we packed away in a storage bag-unit and put on top of my little black Chevy Cavalier. What didn’t fit in there, we packed inside and on November 17th, we took off for West Palm Beach, Florida where we now live.

Change Is Good. But It Ain’t Easy!

After a stop in Kentucky to stay the night with a dear friend, Ms. Heather, we arrived here in WPB, November 19th, and stayed with family; a father of which I haven’t seen since the first time I ever met him 20 years ago, and his current wife. It’s been an experience to say the least, and one I’m still not fully recovered from as of yet. It didn’t take long to realize that we had arrived in Casa del infierno, aka the house of hell. After the vacation period ended, about two weeks after our arrival, they dropped their masks of happiness, and instead the real faces of the sad, unhappy, and miserable little trolls we were staying with were revealed.

In fairness, it’s difficult enough for anyone staying with other people, family or friends, and having to get used to their way, their lifestyle, their habits, and ideals especially when they don’t mesh with yours. It’s worse when you’re total strangers living in a strangers house and that stranger just happens to be your father.

Add that stress on top of suddenly being immersed into a whole new Spanish culture and way of life with the expectation that we needed to just instantly adapt. Here we were in the house where there was a patriarch; this may be normal for many people but for me, a single mother who has raised five strong, and independent young women without a masculine figure-head at the forefront of our lives, this was a huge adjustment and shock to deal with.

At first it was nice. It is Florida after all! Instead of spending a winter in the ice and snow we were going to spend it in the sun on the beach! That happiness and enthusiasm didn’t last long. Shortly after the masks dropped, the shit began.  But I won’t go into great detail and list every rotten, passive-aggressive thing they did, just the ones that pissed me off the most. Like purposely not stocking the pantry with staples and eating out every day, just to make the message loud and clear, “We are not going to give food to you and your girls.” 

The Issue of The Food And The Divine Blessing of Friendship.

Since the time we arrived in November, and because we were in someone else’s home, regardless that it was my father, I bought food for the house. I bought things that my daughters enjoy but I also watched and saw what Spanish foods my father and his wife like and bought regularly so I tried to contribute that way. Needless to say, this was not appreciated. Since I bought food and put it in the house for everyone, this gave them one less thing to complain about.

By mid-January and only when my father knew that my finances were almost depleted is when my father decided that my daughters and I could make do with nothing and thus, began to take himself, and his wife out to eat every day, or visit her son, and his wife having lunch daily over there, leaving the pantry bone dry in the house. Although I had been hired in at a hospital in the beginning of January, due the scheduling of orientation and other delays, I wasn’t working yet. It was now February. Thank Goddess for a couple good friends in Ohio, my dear friends-like-family, Gwen and Leezette, and one kind acquaintance in California, named Carolina, who knew the situation, stepped up to help me out. Between the three of them they sent me a few hundred dollars to keep food for the girls until I started my new job a few weeks later. Their generosity is immeasurable. It saved our lives. And to them, I am grateful.

Eternally Grateful

Shortly after that I received an unexpected gift in addition to what my friends sent to me; my 401 K savings from my previous job I left in Ohio. That check arrived in perfect timing allowing us to once again, have a soft cushion of security until we started receiving income. I was able to buy food, and other needed things for the girls and I.

Once I bought food for the girls and I, suddenly my father and his wife stopped eating out, and once again were eating back at the house. Guess what food they were eating? The food I bought from money sent to me from friends. And although this provoked my daughters ire, especially in my 19 yr old, Amaris. I told them, “Let them have it. We pick our battles and this is not the one we want to fight. Not yet.”

Another blessing was Amaris started her job at a restaurant in late January and was making very decent tips, anywhere from $70 to $150 a night. It was that money that she put in an envelope named “Argante Fund” –this was not her money, she said, but ours, as a family. We needed to do with what we had to to keep from having to deal with them. Our uniforms, shoes, and anything else we needed was bought with that “Argante Fund” money. My father and his wife saw us coming and going with items, clothes (uniforms) as well as Amaris would bring food home at night when she left the restaurant and complained to their border that we had “all this money” and didn’t give them even a little bit.

Why would we? We needed “all that money” to do what we had to do, and to get out of that house. And had he not been such an asshole, maybe I might have offered to give him something out of respect. But he lost any respect I might have pretended to have when he chose to treat my daughters and me the way he did. My only mission was to get out of that house while keeping my peace of mind, and not turn into a person like them.

We stopped buying food and putting in the house. If we did buy food, non-perishables, they were left in our trunk of the car as storage and taken out when needed, or left in our small, cramped shared bedroom. My girls and I, we were and still are a team. They couldn’t break our spirit, no matter how hard they tried.

They didn’t like that at all.

Yeah, It Was Hell

It went from the food thing to turning off the central air units, claiming we broke it because we went in and out of the house, to turning off the washing machine from the inside the washer itself so we couldn’t use it to wash not even our work clothes; to not speaking to us for months, or introducing us to company or other family;  to pulling a fuse for the ceiling fan, turning off the internet so my daughter couldn’t do schoolwork, to hiding remote controls to televisions telling my girls what they could and could not watch in that house, to limiting our use of water in the shower.

Nothing was ever said about any of this as they did it. Can we say passive-aggressive? They just did it and acted as if they did nothing at all and if confronted with it, would absolutely deny it 100%. They were guiltless and it was everyone else who did them wrong. My father, the martyr, who gives his heart and soul to people and everyone else just shits on him!

Poor, poor daddy. Yeah, right. pfft!

So How Did I Deal With It All?

Obviously it wasn’t easy at all. There were many, many days I cried, and thought, “Why did I bring my daughters and I to this nightmare?!” But those were temporary lapses of reason. Once I cried it was O.K. I would let common sense, and the teachings of my Spirit guide me on how to deal with it all. When I thought of what it was that I did that helped me most, it came down to 8 things I did on the regular. These things were my guiding lights through the darkness.

1. Don’t Take Anything Personally
Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.”

*This is the second agreement of The Four Agreements by don Miguel Luiz, and the one that was most important, and challenging to me during this time which is why I share it here now.

First I tried very hard not to take any of this personal because I could see that they are both just sad, lonely, miserable people and everything they do is not about other people but about themselves. Despite everything they did, I tried very hard to see the Divinity in them, for after all, we are made up celestial DNA, star-borne we all are so there has to be some good in them somewhere. I tried to find it and focus on that.

It was challenging, it was difficult and almost impossible. For when you caught a glimmer of radiant starlight within them, it was over taken by the black soul-sucking hole like energy that surrounds them. Their negativity is larger than who they are, and so much so you almost want to feel pity for them, and you probably would if you weren’t too busy getting out of their way so your own soul wasn’t sucked up their vortex of toxicity.

I told myself over and over this old adage, “This too shall pass.” And it did. It seemed like a lifetime before it did but it did pass because all things come, and all things go. This was no different.

2) Prayer

When you’re stuck in a tunnel of suffocating darkness, you must try to remember that no matter what, there is light at the end of that tunnel even if you don’t see it. In the meantime, until you see that light, you must create your own to guide your way. How do you do this? I did it through prayer, and lots of it.

I prayed for the light of love to be with my daughters and I, to fill the house, and my father and his wife’s withered, and shriveled up blackened hearts with the love they so desperately need. It was hard to pray for the best for them when it seemed all they wanted was the worst for us but I allowed the wisdom of my heart to guide me, to show me the way, and I followed. Ego be damned!

Prayer became my best friend. The more shit my father and his wife dealt out the harder I prayed for goodness and tranquility to wash over the situation, the house and for love to fill their withering, black hearts. It would have been easy to wish them hell but I knew they were already suffering. No person who isn’t suffering and miserable would ever act towards their own family the way my father and his wife acted towards us.

3) Focus Only On The Positive

You must remember to focus only on that which is positive and good. The law of attraction is here at work so whatever you focus on you will receive more of. This is where strength, determination and courage are important allies that will carry you through. Nothing is so important that costs you your soul.  I fell back on everything I knew, all of my teachings, and understanding of the law of attraction. I knew if I was going to create a place of peace and light I needed to focus on that peace and light, I needed to be that peace and light, even if that light was a fire at times that burned intensely, as long as that fire pushed us forward that’s all that mattered.

4) Practice Gratitude

When it seems the worst is when we must be the most grateful. When we feel like we have nothing else to give is when we must reach deep within and find an ounce of gratitude and let that lead us. Gratitude comes from the heart, it can’t be faked, and it is the brightest light that will lead us out from the dark into our own.

meesheeWhen things were bad, which was almost everyday, I would wake up and see my girls, and with an open heart full of love and gratitude I’d give thanks I had them with me, and they were safe, and healthy. Gratitude. I would get up, go outside and sit at the table with my phone, my notebook and a pen, often greeted by the neighborhood kitten called Meeshee. Gratitude.

I’d take time to notice my surroundings, and everything around me; the beautiful palm tree that had plenty of giant coconuts ready to fall; the awesome mango tree that was ripe, and heavy with juicy fruit, ready to give to the receiver. The pineapple and wild strawberry growing in the yard, and all of my step-mother’s incredible lush green aloe plants and tropical flowers.  I noticed the birds singing and the little lizards and gecko running about or crawling on my chair. I would look out and up and see the small puffs of transparent white clouds that dotted the sunny, blue clear skies. This is what I focused on. Gratitude.

Gratitude Is Everything

Despite everything else that was going on, the reality was that we were safe, dry, we had a place to stay, a roof over our head, a warm, decent bed to sleep in. All four of us were working and making money to move out of there. We were not out on the street, homeless, begging for a right to a crust of bread or a bottle of water; we had that and more. So we had to deal with some pretty messed up things along the way, the fact is it wasn’t the worst I’d ever experienced. In fact, it was more of major annoyance than anything, and I knew it wasn’t going to last forever. And it didn’t. This is what I focused on. Gratitude. I continued to create my light by focusing on that which was good, and for everything I could be grateful for.

5) Venting

A big saving grace was having someone to talk to about all of this that was going on. I have a few good friends who, although were all back in Ohio, and elsewhere, they were there for me holding space, letting me vent, curse, holler and work this out. It was heavy talking to me at times because the situation we were in was heavy, suffocating, and toxic. But my friends, the ones that truly matter, and love me kept holding space for me, they were there for me to let me vent, to let me work it out in whatever way I could no matter how difficult, and heavy things may have been. Especially my sister-priestess, Soul-Sister Amanda. She was my rock. I love them all more than they know. Gratitude. 

6)Laughter

The moment something bad happened, instinctively we want to cuss, yell or cry out, “Damn it!” or some other colorful eff word. I decided to try to train myself to react by automatically thinking of everything and anything I could be grateful (Gratitude)for, or even laugh about. It was hard but it became easier as I kept on trying. And in the trying took my focus from whatever was going on and into the moment of my trying. That was the only thing I focused on and it saved me many, many times. And yes, there were times when things were so bad, and so stupid the only thing I could do was laugh. Laughter is good for the mind, body, and soul.

7) Beach Therapy

“The cure for anything is salt water – sweat, tears, or the sea.”

–Isak Dinesen

And of course, there’s was beach therapy. Lots of wonderful and healing beach therapy.  There were many days I went and sat on the beach, and stared out for what seemed like thousands of miles while I dug my toes in the sand, and just watched the waves come crashing in. I would mentally, and sometimes physically, send my sorrows back out letting the ocean mama take it all back into her, to be renewed again. Not everyone has a beach to run off too, in fact, before we moved here to Florida we didn’t have a beach to run off to either but we did have beautiful park systems with a river running through it. If you aren’t lucky enough to have a river near by, there is always your bath tub. Create a serene environment, adding sea salt or epsom salt to your bath, light candles, burn relaxing incense, calming reiki or jazz music, or whatever relaxes you and just. let. go.

beach8) Forgiveness

Forgiveness is something you do for yourself, for your soul not someone else. Forgiving someone doesn’t mean you condone the objectionable behavior, and hurtful actions towards you. It does mean, however, that you will not be held prisoner by your own angry, and hurt emotions so you forgive and let live and let go.

And so every time the pettiness of my father began to affect us, I forgave. When I wanted to go ballistic, scream, and yell, I forgave with same intensity that I was stressed.

I remembered to try not to take it personal, to find something positive to focus on, and to look around me wherever I was then, and be grateful. Only in the center of my gratitude could I find the place inside my heart to forgive. And I forgave. 

And then I forgot. I forgot about the problems, the house, and most importantly, I forgot about them!

The Outcome

This is how dealt with and survived hell in that house. As of May 14th, we officially moved into our own condo, and cut off all communications with my father, his wife, and the rest of his family. Since then my daughters and I have been pretty much at peace. The distance between my father and I is about as far as it ever was when I lived in Ohio, over a thousand miles away, and worlds apart. I have no regrets, and I am content with that.

We are moving forward in a positive way, and we can honestly say we are going to give Florida a chance, from the place we are now, and not the place we were when we first arrived. We are living in Florida now when before we were just staying here. Now we can be open to see what all it has to offer us without the stress, and negativity of being in the toxic environment of my father’s house.

Whatever happens, I have my three beautiful, intelligent and courageous  daughters, and together we’ll get through anything.  One of the most important confirmations I gained from this experience among the many lessons is that we, my daughters and I, have always been the close and loving family we needed. Now we are only closer.  How much more blessed can we be?!

Until next time,

Love, Beauty & Magick,

P.S

Thank you for reading. If you liked it, please share it! I invite to leave comments and feedback below as well. Thank you so much.

 

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