“We can make ourselves miserable or we can make ourselves strong. The amount of effort is the same.” ~~Pema Chödrön
“In retrospect dear one, you will understand your entire life was but choices, made one after the other in the name of love, or preserving that love. Nothing will be wrong or broken, just choices made either way, in the name of your heart.” ~~Sarah Blondin
#9 The past is gone forever.
No longer am I victimized by the past.
I am a new woman.
How would you feel about your past if you released your judgments about it? The past is gone forever, yet the stories we attach to it can prolong emotional imbalance. What if every choice you have made, every decision or action taken was about you arriving in this very moment? What would be different? Would you be more understanding and feel greater compassion towards yourself and others? By reframing and redefining the past, Statement #9 helped me become a new 4C woman.
As women navigating sobriety and recovery, oftentimes we can place unrealistic expectations on ourselves. This can in turn create a closed circle of emotional turmoil without an end in sight. Another unhealthy practice is applying today’s knowledge/understanding to yesterday’s actions/experiences. Neither way is an effective or helpful way to move through or manage the past. Yet the practice of Statement #9 fosters healing and forgiveness.
Some past experiences were traumatic and needed additional resources. Therapy and WFS connections, along with actively practicing the Statements enabled me to move through the most painful of moments. Choosing to let go of self-punishment and guilt became easier when I redefined my inner language and reframed past situations. Self-forgiveness became a reality, and I actually felt like a new woman. The past no longer defines me, I define it!
Hi 4C Women,
Forgiveness – it took me a while to realize that the first person I had to forgive was myself. I had the key to unlock the door and remove the punishment I was imposing on myself by keeping the painful part of my past alive and well in the present. What Karen shared about releasing judgment from our behavior, decisions and actions in the past is what Statement #9 is all about. Keeping guilt and shame at the forefront for what we cannot change hinders emotional growth and the ability to learn and change. It holds us hostage rather than freeing us to learn from our mistakes and work on healing. I used to fantasize about all the “what ifs” and how perfect my life could have been if I had not made all the awful choices I did. I am grateful for Statement #9 which empowered me to learn to live in the present and no longer victimize myself.
Most of all, I understood that there is no perfect life. No matter if I had made consistent wise choices, perfection is an impossible, even harmful goal. I learned that I was bemoaning a past I could never change while those I held resentment/hurt/pain/regrets toward were most likely not even thinking of me with the same intensity that I was experiencing, if at all. So much time was being wasted in focusing on the past, reliving events that only hurt me. That is how I was victimizing myself, going over my mistakes again and again with such harsh judgment and for what? This does not mean we ignore or downplay hurt we’ve caused. If someone approaches me with a hurt from the past, I acknowledge it just as I would want the person I am seeking forgiveness for the hurt they caused me, to do. I then ask them what do they need from me today to heal our relationship. This makes them part of the solution, a way to work through hurt and be in the present.
All of this living in the painful past led me to realize that I had to find a healthier focus, a way to show by my actions, that I was learning from my past, that forgiveness began with me and then others when I felt strong enough. Giving myself that time and understanding that forgiving may not always be a one-time decision. I learned that when I went through my divorce. I found myself having to forgive quite often and that’s okay because it’s what I needed to heal.
I encourage any woman who has experienced trauma to seek additional support as Karen suggested. There is no reason for any woman to take this journey alone. Whether it is a WFS group, online support or a professional counselor. This is the time to build a strong support system.
When you begin considering forgiving others, please keep these points in mind:
Forgiveness is not the same as reconciliation and this is important. Forgiveness releases you from your personal pain. If that person is someone who is toxic, there is no need to remain in a relationship.
Forgiveness is not forgetting. Focusing on “forgetting” a wrong might lead to denying or suppressing feelings about it which is not the same as forgiveness. Forgiveness has taken place when you can remember the wrong that was done without feeling resentment or a desire to pursue revenge. Denying my feelings only led me to drink to escape or numb.
Forgiveness is not condoning or excusing. Forgiveness provides a healthy choice to protect yourself, including choosing not to reconcile.
One very positive effect from practicing Statement #9 is that as I healed, I allowed the beautiful moments from my past to come forward. The past wasn’t all pain and my choice to be so one sided was a belief that I was flawed so badly that I didn’t deserve the happiness of those joyful memories. Wrong!
Bonded in releasing the past, making a powerful choice to forgive yourself and when it’s right for you to forgive others and from that, building authentic, healthy relationships, including the most important one, the one you have with yourself, Dee
Hear more about Statement #9!