Forgiveness cannot be forced.
When my family fell apart
I tried to rush to forgiveness,
thinking that it would speed up
the healing process.
But I was just engaging in
using my spirituality
to circumvent the messy trenches
of deep grief and traumatic loss.
I prayed to God to show me the way,
hoping I could fly over
the dark valley and avoid
what lurked there in the shadows
of my deepest, darkest memories.
I read books and listened to speakers,
I attended meetings,
I thought I knew what I was doing,
but I was really attempting
to avoid the inevitable.
Finally I discovered
that what I really needed
was to allow myself to feel.
I had to go through the grieving process.
I had to face the loss of the life I knew,
I had to take each day
one at a time.
Some days the pain was so intense
I didn’t think I could live through it.
People would tell me
It won’t be like this forever;
I didn’t believe them.
Over time, as I remained clear
and focused on my goal
to find a place for me and my kids,
I noticed the fog was lifting;
I felt more like myself
with each passing day.
Looking back I see
that it was my effort to heal
that blocked the healing.
It was my belief
that things should be a certain way
that kept me from embracing things
as they were.
And now I’m still working on forgiveness,
but at least I have the sense now
to allow that grace to come, naturally,
when the time is right
and my heart is ripe
for such sweetness…
On my cushion this morning,
I reached my arms up to the sky
as if some being,
some divine parent,
would swoop down
and scoop me up.
I said, crying,
I’m ready to let go.
I’m ready to forgive.
I’m ready to move on,
I’m ready to heal.
Please help me.
Somebody must’ve been listening,
because this afternoon
I came across some TED Talks
on finding your life purpose.
I was inspired.
The tide turned.
I remembered who I was,
who I am,
and I felt a surge of great hope
for the woman I can be.
for the first time in forever,
I wanted to eat,
and I took pleasure in my food.
Taking my meal outside,
looking up at the great blue sky,
this life is full of possibility.
After my meal
I took out my journal and pen.
The twilight enfolded me
in its gentle embrace
as I wrote words of
praise and thanks
to the one who listened,
and the one who answered.
When will forgiveness come?
When will I be released?
I cry out to God
I don’t want to be in pain anymore.
I don’t want this anger,
What do I need to do to change this?
I suppose I don’t know anything at all.
I thought the choice to forgive
and the understanding
that my freedom relies on it
would be enough
to bring about the desired result—
the freedom of forgiving, letting go.
But nearly twelve moons have passed
since he torpedoed the life we shared
and I’m tired of living in a war zone.
Home doesn’t feel like home.
He left in April
and it’s more peaceful since he’s been gone,
but the war moved inside me
and it’s holding on.
I don’t want to be at war with myself.
Please God, show me how to forgive,
how to believe,
how to love and trust again.
This tender, vulnerable heart
wants to mend.
Please remove the grief.
Let me see with clear eyes again.
Let me forgive.
Let me forgive.
Help me forgive.
please forgive me,
I love you.
These phrases sound so lovely
when repeated sincerely in your mind.
Now can you repeat them
with the same sincerity
to those you think have been unkind?
It’s his 40th birthday today,
and I pretended
that my whole entire life
hadn’t been torpedoed
almost a year ago.
I had the kids make cards for him.
I took them to REI and
we got a present for him,
a colorful Eno hammock
and strong Atlas strapping
to enjoy peaceful moments
swinging and relaxing
surrounded by color and light.
I texted him and wished him well.
I sat in meditation and prayed for him.
I woke up and mentally sent him
the phrases of metta,
May you be safe.
May you be happy.
May you be healthy.
May you be peaceful and at ease.
I meant it.
I think my spiritual practice
is bearing fruit,
and I’m happy to be released
from my anger and sadness.
Today is a good day.
Today’s prompt asked us to take a familiar phrase and upend it. I had trouble with that, most probably because I began the poem when it was so late, and I am tired in every fiber of my being. But then the phrase, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going” came to me. So maybe I can upend that.
When the stopping gets easy, the easy stop.
Yes, that about sums up the end of my marriage.
Today, it is easy to leave a marriage,
it’s easy to give up, to just stop.
It’s so common now, so normal,
that no one is ever really surprised by it.
But I was surprised.
I was surprised when he came to me
and announced he was done.
I wonder how many people
have gotten sick of hearing this story,
and I feel ashamed for telling it…again.
He wanted things to be easy,
he identified with easy.
So it was easy for him to stop, to just leave.
Meanwhile he stayed in our house
and I was a puddle on the floor.
I’m wondering how I’ll support my children.
There is nothing easy about the feelings I have
as I write about my fears,
but I guess that means I won’t stop.
I won’t give up.
I’m not an easy woman;
maybe that’s why he had to leave me.
And now that the going has gotten tough,
I suppose it’s time to get going.
Hmmm. In today’s prompt we were invited to write a poem in which something big and something small come together. I immediately think about (big) ideas like love, marriage, hopes and fears, beginnings and endings, and (small) units of time, like just one day in the life. The trajectory of our (big) lives is made up of countless (small) days. If I were to examine one small day in the life of my marriage (which, now that he has moved out, is swiftly approaching its endpoint) do I pick a day when things were going well, or do I pick a day when it had already gone to hell? Do I count the years of our marriage as a (small) period of time in comparison to the (big) trajectory of my life? Is this how I find healing? The (big) emotions of grief, pain, betrayal and loss meet the (small) moment to moment experiences of breathing, eating, sleeping, and taking one step at a time. In order to live skillfully as humans we must be deeply aware of all of these juxtapositions and learn how to navigate among them with grace and intention. Can I let the (big) vision of stepping into my highest self be embodied within the reality of my shortcomings as one (small) woman?
I see her now,
how she tried so hard to be good.
I see how she wanted it to work
and in ways big and small
sacrificed the best of herself
for a vision she held
of the grand institution of marriage
and the complexities of life with young children.
He held no such vision.
Unlike her, he saw their conflict
as symptoms of a mismatch.
Where she was ready to confront the issues
and find solutions,
he invested in the belief
that things should be easier than they were.
So he took the easy way out.
He blamed her for his pain,
told his story to countless others,
created an army that supported his victimhood
and started a war in their home.
She dove deeper into herself
to find the sanctuary promised by the scriptures
of all the world’s faiths.
As she came to rest in the arms
of divine union with self,
he sought the embrace of another,
one outside their sanctified union,
because by that point,
what they had once shared was dead to him.
She grieved. She lost weight. She lost sleep.
She lost friends. She lost hope. Almost.
From the tiniest stirrings of hope almost lost
emerged a new awareness, a strength
forged in the fires of mourning.
One day she looked in the mirror
and realized that it had to happen this way.
He needed to reject the self she was
so that she could discover
the self she was born to be.
Yes it hurts sometimes still…
but behind the hurt there grows
something that will never be tarnished
by the stories of victimization,
justification, and rationalization:
the big Self,
the miracle of existence,
the song of gratitude,
the promise of forgiveness.