I wondered if that was how forgiveness budded; not with the fanfare of epiphany, but with pain gathering its things, packing up, and slipping away unannounced in the middle of the night. – Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner
For the past several months I have been dealing with the imminent death of my father. This wasn’t a surprise as he had been diagnosed with a very aggressive form of cancer in the spring of 2017. As I was preparing myself to let him go I realized that for me the question wasn’t so much one of, “was I ready to let him go,” but rather, “can I forgive him.”
For most of my life my father and I had a terrible relationship. Much damage occurred early on and my bad relationship was only augmented through the additional trauma that my siblings, as well as my mom, experienced. It is pointless to talk about the reasons, which are not part of the story. I have made it part of my life’s work to be free of the past and to truly forgive my dad and anyone whose action I interpreted as traumatic. The questions are, and have always been, “Can I truly forgive him, and who do I need to be to be able to truly forgive him?”
In December I got on a plane with a heavy heart knowing that despite years of therapy, coaching, and spiritual work there was still a part of me who was holding on to the past. What would it be like to be with him (my dad had been moved to a hospital)? What would I say? What was I going to think? But before I got too far down that trail a heard a strong voice saying “wait.” “Just remember your clear intentions to be free of the past. Trust yourself and the words will come.” Once I realized that all I needed was a clear intentions, trust in myself, and an openness to be assisted, I started on my quest.
It took a few visits until I was able to have “the talk”. But eventually I did have the courage to talk freely and openly with my dad about our past and my desire to assist him to clear up anything that was holding him here on earth. “Dad,” I said, “it took many years and lots of hard work, but I forgave you.” He thanked me, cried, and told me how proud he was. Silence. “Dad”, I asked, “did you forgive yourself?” (Perhaps an audacious question and none of my business to ask). This question brought even more tears. My dad started to cry and his energy felt pure and innocent. I felt moved to reach out to comfort him. I spontaneously walked over to his bed to hug him. He cried, sobbed and I let him. I held him and for the first time in years, I was able to let my guard down. I relaxed, opened my heart and felt at peace. It was an amazing feeling which allowed me and I think him as well to let go of the past.
I left the hospital with a light heart ready to embrace the new year. It was December 31, 2017 when I had that conversation with him. A week or so later we spoke on the phone. He brought up our conversation and thanked me again. It was hard to talk but at the end of the conversation, he told me that he loved me. My spontaneous answer was, “I love you, too, Dad.” I hung up the phone overjoyed. This has always been something I wanted to tell him, that despite all the damaged that had occurred, there was always a part who loved my dad.
I returned to Germany in February when my dad entered hospice. I went to see him many times. I held his hand, read to him, took care of him, and did the best I could do to comfort my parent. His light was slowly going out, but as I watched his spirit transition, I could honestly say that I had forgiven him and I wished him peace.
On February 14, 2018, my dad passed away. May his Spirit and Soul replenish and rejoice in the bright Light of the Universe.
I am sharing this with you as I believe many of us suffer from an unresolved past that impedes the present and the future. In addition, I believe that many people have a secret or past they want to let go of but either can’t or are afraid to hold on to because of the ripples that if would create in their lives if the people involved were “exposed.” What I am offering you with my story is strength, hope, and the possibility to create a different course of action. I realize that this course may not be so easy, but it is one that I consider to be the ultimate price to your freedom, contentment, and peace of mind. Everything else perpetuates suffering.
But let’s take a moment to take a look at forgiveness. What is forgiveness? Why is forgiveness important? Is everything forgivable? These are but a few of the questions that each one of us faced in different ways, at different times, and for different reasons. And, are those aspects connected?
What kinds of forgiveness have I faced and what have my clients endured? These challenges are far ranging. Some have to forgive hideous acts of indignation and pain from family members. The worst types involve sexual assault. Others have to forgive abandonment, psychological battering, or even physical battering. Bullying is another frequent problem that we face because the bullied person actually internalizes the pain and begins to feel that he or she is actually not good enough. Some of my clients were cheated on, other robbed by their business partners. The list is endless. If you were sexually assaulted, you may end up with terrible intimacy problems. If you were teased and told you were fat, you may end up never feeling that you can stand in front of a crowd and give a presentation because you continue to feel humiliation and are self-conscious.
The acts that need to be forgiven are important simply because your unconscious may be preventing you from achieving what you consciously say and believe you want in life. This imbalance can leave you frustrated and feeling undermined, unfulfilled, and unsatisfied. Balance, however, sets us on the road to self-discovery, awareness, and achievement of our goals.
If you can consciously think of a situation that you know requires forgiveness, then you are one of the lucky ones. At least you have a starting point. Maybe though, like me, you have buried and suppressed memories. In that case, you may feel held back and have a nagging pain, but until it is identified you cannot actually move beyond it.
The idea of forgiveness is often fundamental to the coaching work that I do. With the process of Neuro Emotional Coaching® I can help uncover the unconscious pain and hurt that lingers inside. Our minds keep records of what has happened and those records play over and over again in the background. We become unwittingly ruled by our unconscious. Sometimes those unconscious records help us through life. However, there are times when those unconscious records can trick us and undermine us. When that happens, what we consciously think we want can be incongruent with our body, mind, and soul.
I believe that forgiveness is the only way to move forward and beyond the pain that has been lingering from the hurtful things done to us. If you or someone you know is suffering from a past trauma, please consider calling me. I would be honored to share my story in more depth.
As a Leadership Coach, Personal Life Coach, and author of From Intuition to Entrepreneurship: a Woman’s Guide to Following Her Dream, Barbara has the insight to achieve quick and lasting success with a focus on bottom-line results. And, since success involves the entire person, Barbara has created Neuro Emotional Coaching®, a cutting edge 4-step process rooted in neuroscience that combines personal coaching with knowledge of the human brain and its impact on change and leadership.