The Fortitude of Forgiveness
At the end of last month I got a text from my oldest sister "Dad asked me to tell you, he wants to see all his children as soon as possible, because his health is getting worse. He has some things he wanted to discuss." I haven't seen my dad in a good three, almost four years. Ever since he chose not to attend my wedding day (not without an excuse, he's always good at giving those) Up until that moment I gave him every opportunity to be willing participant in my life as a father, but when he didn't show up on that day, something within me hardened and I had set a firm boundary. If he wanted to see me, he had to make the effort as I wasn't going to visit him anymore.
My dad's health has been getting worse from this year on, his heart condition had gotten worse. One of his heart valves is not working properly anymore and with the bypass he had, the medicine he is taking for it, well let's say, it's not getting any easier for him. The doctors said that they can't really do much for him as this point. So it's a waiting game now. I had a long talk with my oldest sister who sent me the text and I decided then, I needed to see him that evening. If the end was nearing for him, it is within my humanity to honor this (perhaps last) request.
When I saw him again after such a long time, it was surreal and yet a firm reality arose. While time stood still for him, within me everything was different and I felt a calmness I didn't have in previous interactions. I was open, present and connected with myself and could sit there non judgment, while he talked. And at some point he asked me for forgiveness, for things he did or failed to do. I could not answer him straight away, but I told him, I would see him again not before long.
While there is so much to say on the subject of forgiveness, a subject I have been firmly trying to wrap my heart around for years, I needed to sit with it in silence again. I sat with these questions like:
How can one be a more forgiving person? What does it mean to embrace forgiveness? How can I forgive the person closest to me for not being there for me when I needed them the most? How can I embrace my vulnerability in this precarious situation? How can I get in touch with my inner most sacred self which is capable of forgiving, without expectation, without reward? How can I forgive, for the sake of forgiveness and embrace the act of letting go?
The theme of this month's inner circle at Anna Purna Living is exploring your inner Goddess. And I chose to find the goddess of forgiveness and see if I can invoke her within me
From my instagram earlier this month:
This month's "soul-work"is an invitation to embrace my inner goddess.
Today (sept 6th) is the full moon and it was in my sign (Pisces) while the sun opposite was in Virgo. And oh boy, I felt it. All the energies released in my body both physically and spiritually. It felt conflicting but I stayed present with it, not hiding and openly accepting the really tough time I had today. But knowing I have embraced the goddess of forgiveness, that she resides within me, gives me courage and strength to work towards creating a new relationship with my father (while it's not too late) Something I didn't even know was possible a few weeks ago.
I set this forgiveness meditation for myself towards my father:
I release the weight I am carrying in my heart. I forgive my father for not being there. I forgive my father for not being able to give beyond his reach. I forgive my father for not being able to fulfill my desires for what I would want in a father.
I feel mercy, compassion and tenderness for the old man whom is also my father.
I feel mercy and compassion towards my father for having lost the desire to live and for feeling is Dukkha so intensely, he cannot see or grow beyond it.
I feel mercy and compassion for my father as he has lived a long time and yet he could not fully embrace life itself.
I feel mercy and compassion for my father as he feels pain of his karmic energies and the fruit this life will bring him in the next.
I feel mercy and compassion for my father as he is a human(being) experiencing his human conditions.
When I embraced this forgiveness mantra in my meditations over the course of the days that followed, something within me happened... or more precise to say, expanded.
Yesterday's gratitude practice and written meditation was an unloading of the heart accompanied by tears. A new sentence emerged in midst of it "May I be a woman standing in the center of her own calm and finds strength from vulnerability." After a night's sleep and working through some intense things today, a block has been lifted from my heart. I feel so so much gratitude to be able to work through a tough subject like forgiveness. And now I know, .. No, feel with such depth, that I have the capacity to forgive without expectations or rewards.
The breakthrough I had was the following insight:
I found that instead of looking at a person in their supposed role that can bring so much expectation and disappointment when they are not met in their role, I can see them as they are.
I see a young man, whom had a hard life, but in spite of the setbacks, made something out of himself. An adolescent man who fell inlove but married someone else and raised 5 children with that person. An adult man who provided for that family but was not there for the better part of it. An old man who is facing the consequences of stepping out of life while he had every opportunity to live.
And I can't help but feel compassion and mercy for this old man, whom is also my father.
If I can forgive this old man for he is only human. I can forgive my father for he is the same.
The week after I visited him again and told him that I could, and have, forgiven him and I am willing to work towards a new relationship. One that is not based on past disappointments or future expectations, but on present connectedness on days we set out to meet. And in our embrace, we're working towards a new relationship with each other. And I am finally getting to know him as a person, by stepping out of certain roles we placed ourselves in.
I am grateful to have the opportunity to experience what it means to be a forgiving person. I am grateful to have melted the icy armor around my heart so it can grow and expand and love beyond measure. I am grateful to have done this while my father is still alive. And grateful he is finally choosing to live by facing the depth of suffering and human mortality.
The universe within wants to be heard by tuning yourself into it.