Forgiveness and Healing: One Man’s story

Forgiveness and Healing: One Man’s story

Forgiveness and Healing: One Man’s story

I don’t, by habit, write extensively about myself on this blog. But, I had such a powerful experience a few weeks ago that I felt compelled to write about it.

This story is one of intrigue, suffering, long held resentment, love and hatred, singing of the blues (she done me wrong), forgiveness and transformation. The characters are celebrities, healers, and ghosts from the past.

First off, the apex of this story occurred the first week of December while at a conference of NICABM (The National Institute for the Application of Behavioral Medicine). I can just imagine your eyes glazing over and mind beginning to wonder with that beginning.

The experience was so great, in large part because I had the help of several of the healers in attendance of the conference. I must pass along to any of you reading this (you know who you are) how deeply I appreciate your acceptance, help, and love. I will never forget that!! The energy in general was wonderful and those in attendance were healers from many different disciplines-. There were nurses, physicians, psychologists, counselors, massage therapists, and many other helping professionals.

So the apex of this story is enacted while at a conference for health practitioners during a break in a hypnosis training with the famous Bill O’Hanlan- (check out his stuff  here, I recommend it), I was walking down the hall minding my own business, perhaps feeling a bit in trance, as is often the case when in hypnosis training.

When I first saw her, I froze. I must have looked like a complete idiot- standing in the middle of this hotel hallway, with a look of shear terror, within 5 feet of my ex wife! The woman that I once called the love of my life, my soul mate, this woman that I had not seen in 15 YEARS.

The prequel to this scene began many years before when I fell in love with one of the most beautiful women that I had even seen. She had long dark hair as thick and shiny as a horse’s mane. She was strong and athletic, smart, maybe even brilliant. And as luck may have it (at least I thought it was luck at the time), she was also a therapist. I met her working in a hospital. I really should have seen some red flags when we, before really knowing each other well, use to argue about, well, just about everything. In any case, blinded by infatuation, the arguments soon turned to heat and I asked her to marry me. So vivid are my memories of this time- I can remember the rich burgundy blouse and sleek black skirt she wore the day she told me she was free to see me (she has just broken up with her boyfriend). I was truly high that day- my head full of neurochemicals and fantasies of the perfect love (I write about this elsewhere on this blog). That may have been the best day of my life that I can remember.

Unfortunately, things quickly turned south and within a very brief period (less than a year) she left me without really so much as a goodbye. There was lots of reason for this, most too lengthy to go into- and really off the topic. Who is responsible is really not the point either. I remember clearly standing before the judge as if it were a dream- (Actually more like a nightmare.- That whole period was like a psychotic nightmare.) I also clearly remember sitting on the bed in a dingy, dank, and depressing long-stay hotel room, wondering what happened to my life; just three days before closing on our new house.

It took me a few months to really get angry, but I developed an anger that was monumental!! (There was really good stuff that happened because of the divorce- elsewhere I talk about how transformation often occurs in tragedy- but I digress). I was angry for years, so hurt, feeling so betrayed and abandoned. I was a victim, she left me without good reason, and I had no sense of closure whatsoever. The last time I saw her was in front of the courthouse after the horrible meeting with the judge. I remember seeing her car drive away as feeling such incredible loss and shock. (I dreamed of similar scenes for months- her blue car driving away as I tried to catch up- to get her to tell me what had happened) I soon moved away and she soon remarried. I never saw her again-that is, until. . .

The conference hotel hallway- 5 feet in front of me- There I was, standing frozen like a small animal who just notice the mountain lion perched on a boulder in my path. She passed within a few feet of me and didn’t notice. (Later I wondered if I really saw her or if that psychosis was returning).

I returned to my class shaking and dazed, in an adrenaline drenched haze. Before class started, I vomited a brief bit of the story and asked Bill O’hanlan, our hypnosis instructor if he would help me; maybe he could put me in a hypnotic trance next time he was doing a demonstration for the class. I was really desperate to find some way to ground myself, turn down my arousal level, get some handle on what I was experiencing. Oh, by the way, I told the whole class of about 40 people what just happened.

Well, Bill O’Hanlan is a master hypnotherapist and, gave me exactly what I needed. I am not sure exactly what that was, but I was prepared to confront this ghost from my past. After the trance experience I felt much better equipped to deal with the coming storm (or whatever it would be). The other interesting thing is that people asked me for days, “Did you talk to her yet,” or “How did it go?” Not only did I have the strengthening of my resources in the hypnotic session, but I had the support of all of those wonderful healers. For whatever reason this all seemed natural.

I didn’t see her again that day and slept fitfully that night- but I WAS READY!

The next day I saw her almost right away, standing off to the side. She turned and looked me straight in the eyes and kept on moving. I was in such a good place, i felt relatively relaxed, bolstered by newly found resources and I simply said “Hey, don’t I know you?” trying to be as unobtrusive as I could, given the circumstances. It was just starting to register and I saw what I am sure was the same frozen pose – a kind of mirror image of what I must have looked like the day before. She was able to blurt out a few words, confirming to her friends that, yes she knew me- that we were once married. Everyone laughed uncomfortably. That was about all she could say- she seemed truly speechless.

I have to admit, as I look back on it now, I sort of enjoyed the momentary feeling of power. I affected her in the same way she affected me. (But I was more centered and prepared.) She was really FREAKED OUT!
Anyway, looking at her horrified face, I simply suggested that maybe we could talk later. I think she would have said yes to almost anything, just as long as I would go away. (little did I know that she went back to her class and did much the same thing I had done. She announced what had happened to the group and got help processing and dealing with the stuff coming up for her.)

After a relatively sleepless night, I ran into her the next day in the hotel coffee shop. She seemed a little more together and agreed to take a few minutes to talk. I immediately blurted out- “I want you to know how sorry I am and I forgive you. At that moment it felt like time stopped. She made a sigh of relief and noticeably relaxed. “Thank God” she said. We talked about 10 minutes and had to get back to our respective workshops. I think 10 minutes was about all either of us could take.

The really interesting thing is that I was totally free from all the past anger and resentment. I could have easily told her that she still owed me money, or that she ruined my life, or that I would hate her forever for what she did (because I did feel that way for a long time). But none of that happened. I knew intuitively what I had to do and I did it. I didn’t really plan it, it just poured out.

I felt an overwhelming compulsion to see her again and to talk more. We spoke again a couple of days later, both exhausted from lack of sleep, weary from all the emotion-the physiological arousal that we were both experiencing. I spoke out loud everything that I could remember, both good and bad, without blame, without the slightest anger- every memory I had of our marriage and the ending of it. I felt more and more relaxed, lighter, freer with each story I told, each memory that I put into words.

The next day, I saw her briefly in the big room prior to our last keynote speaker. I ask for her contact info, said goodbye and walked away. I made eye contact with a stranger who immediately said, “Wow, you have such an incredible smile on your face.” “Well”, I said, “It is really with good reason.” I immediately blurted out the whole story- (the short version). I spent the next 15 minutes walking around talking to people that I had met at the conference. I felt connected with them all- with everyone in that room, at that conference. I didn’t spill my guts to them all, but had they asked, I would have.

That night I went to see a Jazz/Blues band that was fantastic. It almost felt like a part of all of it. I was still feeling at one with the universe (psychosis again?) and made immediate friends with the band leader. (I plan to insert a clip from that night here later.)

I told him briefly that I had seen my ex wife, etc, and he said, “so did it work out well?” I said “fantastic”. “You back together?” It really struck me then; that never really occurred to me. This was not about getting back with her or reviving some old feelings or anything like that. Somewhere inside I knew that I needed to heal this wound. I may not have ever done it had I not run into her at this conference.

Not everyone has an opportunity to ask for and give forgiveness as I did in this case. Too often when working with people who are holding on to resentment, they tell me that they don’t believe that the other person deserves to be forgiven. “I will never forgive him for what he did to me!” ” I trusted her and she betrayed me,” are common phrases I hear in working with people who feel wounded by others.

But I do know that holding on to resentment and anger is poisonous. The one who suffers most is you- the holder of the resentment. It poisons your relationships, it poisons your sense of self, and it causes a disconnection from those around you.” A famous psychologist once said, “Resentment is like taking poison and expecting the other person to die.”

You own the poison, you carry it around and it affects everything you do, every decision you make. Sometimes the affect is not large or strong- other times it pollutes your major life decisions.

Consider this, letting go of resentment may change your life! You don’t have to do it in the presence of the other (maybe they are dead, not open to talking about things, or are otherwise unavailable) but truly and completely forgiving will bring you closer to your higher power like no other deed.

However, be wary of forgiveness too early. You must first work through the issues and you must be safe from being re-traumatized.

If you are holding on to resentment or anger, I suggest you consider working to let it go. We have just entered a new decade; the new year is upon us. Perhaps this is a good time to consider letting some old stuff go, lightening your load for 2010.

A good therapist can help you lighten your load, no matter what the burden is. If you are not yet ready to seek out professional help, ask for the help of friends, join a support group, or get into a 12 step program if it’s appropriate.

As for forgiveness, I did a Google search and found over 2 million entries when I typed in” forgiveness.” There’s lots of information and help out there and doing some reading can be a first step to moving past your old baggage and into a new life.

Really, it is worth the effort

Be Well


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