The process of forgiving others.
I will have to answer this question in a series of posts because forgiveness is an ongoing process that I am still learning.
Yesterday I posted how being unforgiving, guilt, and shame can be detrimental to our lives.In this post, I will be more personal and show how I have used journaling or letter writing to start the process of forgiving and forgiveness in my life. Still, this shows proof of the power of forgiveness. I have forgiven most of the people whom I feel have wronged me. For many years I harbored guilt and shame in my life. This guilt and shame caused me to learn to hate myself. I learned that I could find temporary relief from the pain with the little push of a needle. My life worsened daily. There was no hope nor did a happy ending to my life of devastation seem possible.
While I was weeding out acquaintances whom I felt had no business being part of my life, I decided that I needed to start finding a way to forgive all the people that have hurt me in the past. I knew this was going to be tough because I felt I needed the anger they created in my life.
Forgiving others takes work, rewarding work.
I made a list of all the people that hurt me in my life. I didn’t leave out anyone. I went as far back as I could remember. My list started with the biker who raped me when I was 7, then my cousin who did the same for 4 years. I didn’t include people who robbed me or played me for a fool when I was HOMELESS ALONE HUNGRY and COLD(HAHC) because these people have nothing to be forgiven about. They were just as sick and strung out as I was in the late 80’s and early 90’s. I didn’t have to search too hard for others’ I put two ex-friends who stole my building and pushed me into the streets. I had a place to go at the time but my sister took this home for her own to collect rent on.
So first I chose to forgive the people who I felt had wronged me. I used to be a real angry person and I harbored anger for these people for years. Anger that hurt me, made me sick and kept me poisoning myself. I had to do something and so I did what I always did when I felt hurt by someone.
I WROTE THEM A LETTER. Except I didn’t mail these letters. I was doing this for me and I could have cared less about what these people felt. I was not going to have them in my life any longer. They caused pain. I had to sever the chord and end the pain. I had to say to them what I would have said if I wanted to repair a friendship or end it. I had to speak my mind.
In AA Step 8 and 9 are about Amends the steps go:
- Step Eight: Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
- Step Nine: Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
This is not AA step work. I was doing this for my success and peace of mind. I was doing this to become free from the pain and guilt and shame and hate and anger and all the rotten emotions I harbored. I was doing this to grow into a responsible loving human. I did this to erase the excuses to use dope. I have not mentioned yet that this guilt and shame was my perfect excuse to use. I never needed an excuse but if I was trying to not use the guilt and shame would always win over the struggle of not using. They hurt me. The continued to hurt me and I carried that hurt deep inside like a cancer. I have to cut it out. Surgery!!! Letter writing. Private message sending. FB timeline posts. Yes people do this all the time. It is not cool. It is childish. I used to do this but now I use a different approach. The difference is I write the post and never hit send. I copy it and paste it in email addressed to myself. Then I discard the post. It is quite easy and very rewarding. I feel renewed after this is done. By no means am I making amends. I am making myself whole again thru the healing power of forgiveness.
Letter writing. Private message sending. FB timeline posts. Yes, people do this all the time. It is not cool. It is childish. I used to do this but now I use a different approach. The difference is I write the post and never hit send. I copy it and paste it in an email addressed to myself. Then I discard the post. It is quite easy and very rewarding. I feel renewed after this is done. I am making amends with myself; I am making myself whole.
Here is an example of one of my recent posts and I feel it was successful:
Check it out. I friended you on FB because I thought maybe you wanted to reconcile the way you handled the tragedy that was my hand.The way your wife lied to investigators and told them I was gone on Heroin that day. For the empty promises of assuring me that I would have money to survive on while I was out of work injured. For never paying me for the las job I worked on. Yeah the job when your saw ate my hand for breakfast. THAT JOB!!!
Apparently this is not the case. So be it. I know forgive you for all of your insecurity. Did I want to become actual friends again? Not really. We have not a thing in common. Never did.
The law suit failed. Found me 1/2 at fault for using a saw on the ground with no guard. The
200.k turned to 100k and I owed 140 k. Yeah. I still owe 40k. to a bank finance company. Ha. Go figure. I am without use of my left hand and I have to pay for that privilege! I have not blogged of this or the
way you ran to Colorado like a thief in the night. The way you cried to every in Herkimer about how cut my fingers off on your jobsite and that I now have the audacity to want compensation wanted to be
Or even paid for the work I finished before that saw butchered me. What a ridiculous idea, compensation?
You ran away from your responsibility as a friend, employer, and human!
Mr. XXXXXX I have this to say now. I am sure you have seen the video of my homeless devastation. It was a big hit with all of our classmates.
They all wanted to help. And most have in their own way.
What happened after the accident and where I ended up again is easy enough to figure out for yourself?
I am sure you inquired when around your old stomping grounds. I have climbed from that life twice now.
And yes i am proud. I am grateful for everything that has ever happened to me. It has made strong. I can do anything once I put my mind to it. I look down at where I sat on the ground everyday
and smile. Yes. I am arrogant. Yes, I talk loud. But you know what. I deserve it. The
humility I have learned along the way is worth more than the education from SU and
The New School put together. I have eaten from dumpsters long enough in my life.I have lived in abandoned buildings with rats and dogs and junkies for far too long. I have held anger for all the people who have shit on me for too long also. Yup. It happened and I’ve been waiting a while to tell you how I feel about that dreadful day. Now you have the audacity to say
I am on a high horse. Lost in the clouds and cannot see the little people. I am the one who has climbed
from the streets of NYC to become a successful compassionate therapist, husband, son (RIP Mum), Brother (even though, I have severed that TOXIC relationship too), uncle, great-uncle, friend to true positive friends, and champion for the homeless Street junky!
I was homeless up until 8 months ago and I stop and talk to others who are less fortunate than I every day. I give them food, clothing, money, whatever I can. No, I owe you not a thing.
I also ask you for not one thing in return. Please do not reply to this message it will just be a waste of your time. I have finished with what I needed to do her. I am working on healing me. It is a selfish program, yes, and I am number 1 to me today. This is the only way I can assure the people I care about get my love, respect, and gratitude. I am grateful for you teaching me about the world of tile and hardwood. I am grateful for learning how strong a work ethic I have developed while in your employ. I am not grateful I paid my left hand to learn that you are dishonest, selfish, angry, sneaky, two-faced, and not worth any word you say in brotherhood or bond. Lessons cost us all and I am sure you are one of those what goes around comes around guys. You know, You believe in KARMA. Therefore, I guess I can say every dog has his day. I do not wish ill will upon you or yours. I do wish you stopped pretending you are something you are not because unfortunately you have brought children into this world and they need a role model whom is honest, caring, and supportive. They do not need a tyrant who pouts and screams like an 8-year-old who had to go to bed without a scope of ice cream. Please consider changing for them and their success at life.
That is all.
Goodbye and adieu.
This is just one of the letters I have written to voice my anger and hurt, to show forgiveness, and express my gratitude.
In closing I would like to express that forgiveness is a path I feel I had to take to make myself whole and complete, to relieve myself of the anger, hurt, guilt and shame of the past, and to heal. All of this negative feelings riding around inside of me are a toxic compound for relapse and self-destruction. Years ago I harbored them and kept them safe locked away deeply so no one could get them to surface. Keeping them inside kept me negative. All the negativity kept me sick and I always had an excuse at the ready to pull that plunger and sink that syringe deep into a vein and smile.
Tomorrow I will discuss other ways of forgiving others and more importantly, I will discuss the power of forgiving oneself.
Have a beautiful day. Get outside and play. Smile. Breathe.