Tag Archives: miraculous healing

What Forgiveness Meant to Me – Literally

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What Forgiveness Meant to Me – Literally

I wrote about the 3 day retreat that ended with an unforgettable experience here. And I wrote a poem expressing my pain here. Now it is time to share exactly what freedom meant to me after the exercise of forgiveness. I had no idea what to expect – the possibilities were endless.

In the days following the retreat, I felt that my heart space had doubled in size. In my daily prayers I asked God to bring things up so I could let go of even more. I would think of old painful experiences and I forgave myself and others easily. Since I had tackled the biggie in my life, all these other wounds were senseless to hold on to. Sometimes tears accompanied my prayers of forgiveness, but overall, each time I practiced forgiveness, it just got easier and easier.

It seemed pointless to hang on to anything that weighed me down – forgiveness was my new happy pill and I dosed myself frequently.

The second miracle is that the SHAME that clouded my whole life, simply evaporated. I had not understood the roots of my shame until now. I had worked on it from so many angles, and now with the choice of forgiveness, it was gone.

An old journal entry describes my feelings:
“I feel like I am drowning in shame. I take more of it in with each breath. It stinks like rotting flesh. Its voice is eerily comforting as it fills my ear with lies. Sometimes I play hide and seek with shame trying to escape its grip. But I end up feeling naked and exposed and put out the SOS – Shame Oh Shame, please return. Wrap yourself around me like a cloak and help me feel safe again.

My head knows that being raped was never my fault, but I cannot release the grip of shame in my being. Ok, God, let’s heal this shit. Enough already. I am 46 and I have proven I can do shame – with gusto, flair, and grit. It is time to make a change.”

I don’t know if I can adequately express how much shame was woven into my being. I always had shameful thoughts about myself running my brain and body ragged. I used so many tools to neutralize this shame, but they only helped me keep my head above the drowning level.

Obviously this shame took root in my being just from the nature of the violence I endured. I think it was easy to allow shame to grow and perpetuate because so much of the world mirrored that I was not enough as a girl, as a woman, as a human.

I do still have moments when I feel vulnerable without that cloak of shame. I feel exposed and yet I realize that I was always the first one to attack myself. Being and sitting with vulnerability is a worth while practice.

There are many layers of vulnerability and just when one gets comfortable, another emerges, inviting us to expose more of our heart.

Freedom from shame and old wounds of unforgiveness would not have happened if the seed of wanting forgiveness to happen had never been planted. Even if it seems impossible for you to experience forgiving someone that harmed you, I encourage you to say, “Someday, I would like to be free from the weight of unforgiveness. Prepare my heart so when the moment arrives I step into the miracle of unfolding.”

The last little miracle to happen from this is that for 3 days after the retreat ended, I heard my grandpa saying “Angie” in quiet moments. Just before bed on the 3rd day, I said, “Ok, grandpa, I am listening.” He appeared in my mind’s eye sobbing and repeating “I’m sorry.” I thanked him for his apology and released him to continue his own journey. While it was completely unexpected to hear from him (he died 25 years ago) it was beautiful to feel his sincerity and hear his apology. I certainly was not anticipating this experience.

So, if his soul found a new level of peace, that was previously beyond imagination, I am a-ok with that.

Won’t you plant some heart seeds today?

In case you missed it, here is Part 1: Forgiving the Unforgivable

My Poem Related to this post: Feisty for $25

Read more about who the heck I am: https://iamangela.org/about/

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Forgiving the Unforgivable

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Forgiving the Unforgivable

My grandpa sold me for sex when I was a child. There is a poem here.

It is okay. Really. This story will show you how I am more than okay.

My grandpa also sexually assaulted me many times before he sold me. In navigating my healing, I found a level of compassion for him that was beyond my human capacity. I wrote about that here. But in early 2014 I realized my forgiveness had hit a wall. I saw his act of selling me as:

U n f o r g i v a b l e.

My journal says: “Grandpa, my forgiveness will not extend that far. I am pissed that I have so much damage to navigate from your evil-ness. If you were still alive, I would send you to jail. I want to feel safe and you stole that from me. I hate that I cannot still the voice that says I am less than the other people in the world. I hate that my worth, my value was put into dollars. Will I ever be able to forgive you? My anger is so huge, it feels like the Earth will shake and buildings will crumble if I let it out. I cannot imagine this rage being replaced with forgiveness.”

Even thought it seemed impossible, I wanted forgiveness for what it had to offer ME even though I had no idea of what it would feel like or look like. I did not know how unforgiveness was holding me back because I had carried it with me since I was 5 in an unconscious way. Now, I was willing to let go. But I needed help.

This was the condition of my heart and mind when I went to a Dances of Universal Peace Retreat in May of 2014 with a simple prayer, “Let this retreat serve my highest good.”

The first morning I was up with the sun writing, singing, and praying by the stream. Once the morning dance was about to begin I entered the lodge and a friend of mine greeted me by falling on the floor and kissing my bare feet. This took my words away – I had not ever been greeted like this before. He said, “Isn’t that how we are to greet Goddesses?” I mumbled something, unsure of how to be gracious about such a gesture. He smiled and asked that I take it in. I said I would work on it.

One of the dances was about Mitakoye Oyasin, A Lakota phrase meaning All My Relations. Mitakoye: All beings in all levels of creation. Oyasin: Call you & draw you closer to the deepest love of your soul. Somewhere in the course of the song, God pricked my heart and asked if I could bring my grandfather front and center to sing this song with him.

After a few tearful rounds of the song, I told God I would extend the olive branch and take one small step toward my grandfather. That was all I could manage in that moment. The edges of my heart started to ache. I was completely okay with taking my time navigating forgiveness. I had deep compassion for myself first. After all, this was a biggie.

After that song we had a silent meditation time and I opened my journal to write and God asked, “Could you kiss the feet of your grandfather and call him Beloved?” Then I wrote: “God prepare my heart. I want to run away right now.” And then I did – I ran to the stream and sobbed. Sobs that shook my being on every level, loosening the roots of unforgiveness.

All day my prayer was, “Prepare my heart.” I could not fathom how forgiveness might occur. My grandfather was dead so how would I know I had truly forgiven him? And because he was dead, a small voice said, “Well, you don’t have to really kiss his feet.” Part of me was relieved.

I also was being incredible gentle with myself with messages like:

“I might not find forgiveness until the last breath I take, and that is ok.”

“It might take 20 or 40 years to figure out how to forgive him, and that is ok.”

At the end of the first day I was exhausted.

Day 2: My heart chakra literally ached – it was being opened and stretched and expanded.

My prayer by late morning was, “Oh God, Sustainer of my Soul.” I felt the weight of my anger in my being and it was heavy and frightening. Once again I ran to the stream, dropped to my knees, and this time I threw rocks in water yelling “FUCK YOU!” over and over – covering all the reasons I was angry with him. My anger spilled out into the quick moving stream and she carried it away.

Then I climbed on some huge trees that had been pulled up by the floods of the previous fall. I wrapped my arms and legs around the trunk of one and cried into the tree:

I am sorry for
my little girl inside,
all 5 year old children with out love,
what you did to yourself grandpa,
what you did to humanity,
the beautiful trees that are dead now from the flood,
the space in me that seemed dead for 41 years,
the effort it has taken to resurrect that space, to learn to breathe in that space,
all the physical pain that I feel,
the land torn apart by the flood water,
my little girl that has felt uprooted and lost since that very first time of being sold,
my Self having felt displaced, not valued, unloved, and unlovable.

Then I said “I LOVE YOU” to all these aspects. This emotionally laden process just kept unfolding. Yes, it was painful – and beautiful. I was surrounded by God’s love and Mother Earth, offering infinite support. God was totally leading the way to forgiveness – these sure weren’t my ideas!

Then I had a picture enter my minds eye: a ceremony where my friend stands in as my grandfather and I kiss his feet and I hug him and call him Beloved Grandfather. I immediately gave myself permission for this ceremony to be many months, if not years away from happening. And perhaps, the first time it is done, I call it practice.

By the end of day 2 I asked my friend to stand in as my grandfather. He said he would be honored. I explain that I have no desire to rush this process, it could be the next day or many years away.

Day 3 I woke with a headache from all the emotional processing. The dances that morning were soothing and I continued my prayers, “God, prepare my heart, sustain my soul.” During the silent meditation time I wrote out my Healing Intentions:

1. Heal ME. This is for me and only me. I feel the ache and the weight of unforgiveness and I am tired of dragging it around. Fill up that space where unforgiveness has lived with love and wisdom.
2. Reach across TIME and extend the choice of healing to my grandfather, because it is never just about me and my healing.
3. Let my forgiveness ripple out into the WORLD to further heal all crimes against humanity in this spectrum.
4. Allow me to remember this was a crime against himself and all of humanity as much as it was a crime against me.

At the end of the morning, we were seated in a circle sharing our retreat experiences. There was a silence and God prompted me. I shared that my grandfather had committed crimes against me as a child and God had prepared me to forgive him. I had asked my friend to stand in as my grandfather and I invited anyone to witness this ceremony. My friend started removing his socks as one of the leaders said, “How about now?” My reply was, “I am ready.” My heart really was ready – I was not forcing anything to happen, it was completely ready in all ways. It was miraculous.

I kneeled, kissed his feet, and called him “Beloved Grandfather” in an embrace. I felt infinitely lighter immediately.

I went deep inside and stretched my heart so much it felt like the sun had taken up residence. I am still in awe at the way God supported me in this process. It was not practice. It was, and is, forgiveness – the real thing.

Forgiveness is freedom. I took a chance, I said yes, I want this healed. I trusted the process and stepped into the opportunity that God provided, and I found JOY.

Keep reading: Part 2 What Forgiveness Meant to Me, Literally

Read more about who the heck I am: https://iamangela.org/about/

The other “F” word

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Forgiveness is a difficult topic for many people. We just don’t want to go there – it seems too hard and what does it really do for us anyway? We have all heard how it is something we do for ourselves more than the other person. But, really, what does it do for us? In the end we don’t do anything without recognizing how we will benefit, right? Well, here are some what ifs to consider:

What if some of our body pain was rooted in un-forgiveness? What if some of our shitty mental tapes that we keep hearing (perhaps even listening to) were rooted in un-forgiveness? What if our capacity to love and connect with others was limited because of our un-forgiveness? What if our ability to love and accept ourselves was limited due to our un-forgiveness?

I know that the concept of forgiveness feels like we are saying:

“It was ok that you hurt me.”   and/or   “You can keep causing pain and I will keep forgiving you.”

On a subconscious level, we may be super attached to that particular story of pain. And if we forgive, then the story isn’t as appealing. BUT, what if the story becomes MORE appealing because of our capacity to forgive? What if we started a super-hero like tidal wave of forgiveness? Sounds good, but how do we get there? What are the basic tools of forgiveness?

The BEST tool is WILLINGNESS. Just be open to experience forgiveness. Each path is different. We cannot begin to tell each other how to forgive. There are many stages and processes that we might need to travel through. The first stage is planting the seed of WILLINGNESS to arrive at Forgiveness as a whole-heart experience.

Just begin to ask yourself a few questions:

What might forgiveness of this person or situation feel like in my body?

What might it taste like on my tongue?

How might it shift my capacity to breath?

What might it sound like?

How might it create space in my mind? My heart?

I can only share that FREEDOM is on the other side of forgiveness. I know this from personal experience and witnessing the release of pain in others. Freedom to be more, to live more, to experience more.

Keep it simple today and plant the seed. Start rolling the “F” word around on your tongue and hearing it in your head. And continue to express willingness.

The Practice of Honor

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The Practice of Honor

“Why do you fight your tears? How would it feel to honor your tears?” my friend gently inquired.

Honor my tears? As in, welcome and embrace them? I couldn’t fathom what that would feel like. My whole life I had been frustrated with my propensity to cry – some would say I was tenderhearted. That sounds poetic, but I felt like a sloppy, blubbering mess of a woman. I cried when I was sad, angry, happy, menstruating; in short, anything and everything provided reason to cry. I know others judged me for some of the times I cried, but I judged myself EVERY time I cried. Each tear came from a deep well of shame and embarrassment. I did not bestow mercy or compassion upon myself, but rather self-loathing. I resisted and fought my tears because I was terrified that I would be labeled immature and out of control, exactly how I saw myself.

I was the only adult that I knew that cried as much as I did. Even on anti-depressants, I cried. The last psychiatrist I saw finally said to me, “Medicine can’t heal your broken heart.” Ten years of therapy, countless drugs later and I still had a broken heart? I didn’t know what to think of a broken heart. I had been looking outside of myself for a cure and found many band-aids, all unable to hold my wounds together. I started searching for how to heal my heart which led me to the friend that suggested I experience crying differently.

Hesitantly, I began the practice of honoring my tears, being thankful that I could cry. It was a pretty wild experience in the beginning because it was so radically different. It felt real and authentic. It brought freedom and relief.

Still in practice mode, a conversation prompted tears one Friday afternoon in April of 2006. That evening at dinner with friends, my tears continued. The next morning I burst into tears moments after waking up. I had a Tending Your Inner Garden workshop to attend. I tried to gain composure to no avail. I finally packed up my box of tissue, journal and water bottle and headed to the day-long retreat. I arrived 45 minutes late and a face full of evidence. My introduction of myself was this: “Hi, I am Angela, the crier. Nothing catastrophic happened, I am just crying. Ignore them if you can, but know that I am ok – these are healthy tears. “

By mid-afternoon the tears had subsided. Only to start up again that night and the next day, in fact, every day for a solid week, I cried. Sometimes they were soft and gentle tears while other times a tsunami. I understood, deep within me, that my heart was being cleansed in a profound way that I could not articulate.

All week I maintained my schedule and practiced honor. On day 8, when I wondered if I would cry forever, I noticed I could read a license plate across the parking lot. I put on my glasses and sure enough there was no difference! Had my eyes healed? Did crying do this?

Afraid it was a temporary fluke, a magic spell that would break, I kept it to myself for two weeks. Six years and 2 driving tests later, I am still without glasses. I believe that releasing my self- judgment and self-loathing created this spontaneous healing. There are many lessons that emerged from those 8 days.

In my practice of letting go and I allowed a new season to emerge – a season of profound healing.  As I dropped my metaphoric leaves, I gained clear vision on many levels and discovered the key to healing my heart was learning to honor and cherish my Self.  Just like the trees, I am deeply rooted in being myself all year long.

 

-Angela Rae Clark, 2006 TYIG seedling still finding ways to blossom. Angela is working on a book to share her personal healing journey that includes more spontaneous healing stories. Many of her experiences involve healing from memories of childhood rape and torture. She is grateful to have the TYIG tools to draw upon during this journey. Deb, Diane and the TYIG friends are a source of love and support. Angela offers support and teaching through her healing arts practice, The Ki Inside. www.TheKiInside.com.