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The power of forgiveness

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by North Star, Mar 23, 2014.

  1. North Star

    North Star Beloved Grand Eagle

    This morning I decided to free write about the most emotional events that I could remember and then immediately jot down how that event might be translating into a TMS symptom.

    Some connections were very easy - like the death of a young family member. I had trouble swallowing for WEEKS after her death.

    Or a near fatal car accident that left me with a scar that still inflicts pain.

    Traumatic events as a child were easy to figure out too…"growing pains" and then the development of skin issues. I was always congratulated by mom on how well I handled the insane happenings in my alcoholic family. I suspect I learned to be a really good suppressor. God knew, I didn't want to add more to mom's burden of dealing with our dysfunctional home.

    As I got farther down my list while writing, I realized there are still some more recent events that I'm mighty prickly over.

    Like most (all?) people, some of the wounds I've received that were inflicted were intentional by others. Many more were UNintentional…we're all broken beings. I remind myself that "hurt people, hurt people."
    Then there's the stupid stuff I've done to myself that has been hurtful.

    I've practiced forgiveness over the years but the persistence and vengeance of some of my symptoms has given me pause that perhaps I need to visit this again. Forgive again. And again, if necessary.

    This wasn't any new revelation to me; it was more like a gentle reminder: When in doubt, forgive.

    What effect did forgiveness have on your healing?
    Lily Rose, Msunn and Ellen like this.
  2. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi North Star,
    Thanks for your post. I've been thinking a lot about forgiveness lately, too, and its role in TMS healing. Perhaps it is because of Steve O's statement at the end of his book "Forgiveness is the beginning that ends self-induced suffering."

    I feel like I've made good progress over the last 10 years or so on forgiving others. But I think I haven't done well at forgiving myself. I suppose it's the same process and the same principles are involved, but it feels much harder. Like most things it seems to come down to being in the present and suspending judgment--not letting the past color our current experience. As Rick Hanson (author of Buddha's Brain) says "Let go, let be, let in". Simple, but hard at times.
    Lily Rose, Msunn and North Star like this.
  3. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    Yes, North Star, what you say immediately reminded me of psychiatrist Clancy MacKenzie's strong injunction to Steve Ozanich in the last chapter of The Great Pain Deception (2011): "Don't forget to mention forgiveness" p. 337. But it seems to me that all too often a TMSer with a strong goodist personality finds it a lot easier to forgive others than to get down to the real business of forgiving themselves. Then Steve adds at the end of that same paragraph:

    "No love, no hope, no happiness can exist without first forgiving the Self. But how do you explain happiness to people who don't feel worthy of it?"

    All gets back to low self-esteem left over from childhood hurts, doesn't it?
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2014
    Msunn, North Star and Ellen like this.
  4. North Star

    North Star Beloved Grand Eagle

    Thanks, Ellen and Bruce, Forgiving myself….that is a toughie. My sister gave me some photos of when I was little; I hadn't seen them in many, many years. I was struck with how…well, how sad I looked.

    I decided North Star the adult needs to look at my kID, North Star the 10-year-old, with great love and care. If guilt were an olympic event, I'd be a gold-medalist. Guess it comes with the territory of being the 7th kid in a very dysfunctional home.

    That mantra from Rick Hanson is great, Ellen.
    Lily Rose and Ellen like this.
  5. Msunn

    Msunn Well known member

    Hi North Star,

    Great subject. I have made a good effort to forgive others but also find that even though I thought I forgave, old resentments can creep back in. There is a one liner I like: "Resentments are like taking poison and hoping the other person will die."

    I do also think self forgiveness is harder to do, but recently I've been trying to offer myself compassion, forgiveness, and the same consideration I would give others. I really feel I deserve that, I've spent too many years judging myself etc. I hope it's time to let all that go and just be kind to myself. My healing from TMS is also taking some time and I try to have compassion for myself there also.
    Lily Rose, North Star and Ellen like this.
  6. yb44

    yb44 Beloved Grand Eagle

    Forgiveness of myself and of others has been the hardest leg of my journey. North Star, you seeing those old photos recalled for me images of myself as an upset and angry child, continually being told I had a chip on my shoulder from a ridiculously young age. I understand the reasons why I felt the way I did but it's time to let all this go otherwise I will end up a disabled wreck. I keep knocking back that poison though, a well-conditioned but inappropriate response.
    Msunn, Lily Rose, Ellen and 1 other person like this.
  7. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    I heard Eckhart Tolle say recently "if you lived with someone who talked to you like your inner critic, you'd leave". How true!
    BruceMC, Msunn and North Star like this.
  8. North Star

    North Star Beloved Grand Eagle

    It's comforting to see I'm not alone in my quest. It's amazing how connection with others gives strength. Group hug! beerbuds

    Msunn, I often think of that taking poison analogy. It really is true. I have a family member who has been utterly consumed with bitterness. At a time where he should be enjoying life, he is withering away and in the early stages of dementia. He's become a shell. So. very. sad.

    Yb44…you're recognizing what's going on and in my book…victory's in your hand. Reworking those old thought patterns just take time. I wish there were short cuts...

    Ellen, I remember him saying that as well. I like to take it a step further and think of how I would never have spoken to one of my babies with such a critical voice. (Well, maybe not so much at 2:00 in the morning. ;) )
    Msunn and nowtimecoach like this.
  9. Lily Rose

    Lily Rose Beloved Grand Eagle

    Photos .... for as long as I can remember, I have deeply recoiled from being photographed, yet it was done over and over. The more it was done, the more I withdrew. I hated and feared the camera. There is such deep pain reflected. I did not want anyone looking at me ... ever. I wish, and still wish, I could destroy every photo ever taken by people who would not hear my plea to be left alone. My husband's mother would demand photos, even when I would say No. It became a quiet war, and the family pressure caved me. I felt it was a commentary on how little my wishes counted, how little respect was given to my feelings. After one such incident, with his mother becoming bitterly angry in her quiet way, and winning, I tripped into a long, deep episode of depression. I could not shake the image of driving my truck off a snow-strewn bluff with the high, thin streamers of winter grasses underlining Cooks Inlet. The photo incident, in isolation, was just another power struggle. But in the long stream of incidents, stringing all the way into mute childhood, I could no longer bear the weight. Yet ... I did. I crawled back out of the pit, but could never shake that weight.

    It did open my eyes on the sheer strength and depth of my inner revulsion. The ugliness of being handled by sick men had manifested into a writhing mass of shame. Photos captured that alienation, the lost despair.

    Being photographed is one of my growth-goals. I will let my mom do photos, with my camera (digital) because there is that handy delete button. I have let a close artist-friend do a series of photos, because she understands well the fear of being 'seen'. It is from these photos I am working to create a yoga and emotional health manual.

    In the spirit of extracting yet another sliver of dark-crystal shattered fear ...


    Just loading this file injected near panic through my heart, and it pulses harder, sending damp heat to my skin. I am safe here, this I assure myself.

    I am safe ... here.

    North Star, thank you for this post ... for opening that door, for giving me another opportunity on this healing journey. And YB44, for sharing your own photo issues.

    with grace and gratitude,
    Msunn likes this.
  10. North Star

    North Star Beloved Grand Eagle

    Lily Rose, you beautiful, poetic soul you! That picture is just how I've pictured you…free and beautiful and full of grace.

    Isn't it amazing how we can come through such soul rending experiences and still shine? I love how you have "growth goals" and being photographed is one I must consider embracing. I'm getting better in my old age…especially because I have kids and I don't want all the photos to be empty of mom.

    Perhaps our mother in laws are related. Just reading your account made my blood boil as memories of my MIL flashed through my mind. Her and that damn camera. (Sorry for the swear word. ;) ) Every family event she leaps up with her camera and then ends up fumbling with it because the batteries are dead, the thingy isn't working right, the..blah, blah, blah. Then we are all held hostage around the table while she captures this "warm fuzzy memory".

    I put warm fuzzy memories in quotes because she will then construct her own Norman Rockwell version in her mind for later dreamy recollection. And mind you, the camera is a barrier to keep her from being present.

    Couple that with my reticence to be photographed…one day I nearly blew a gasket when she was doing the old fumble/ here-let-me-take-your-picture routine. I had told her clearly NO and she went ahead and took it anyway.

    Geesh. I guess that touched a nerve, huh? *North Star wanders off muttering, looking for her journal…*
    Ellen and Lily Rose like this.
  11. Lily Rose

    Lily Rose Beloved Grand Eagle


    When we do not have the power to say No, we are a victim. As we grow and get stronger, No takes on a greater meaning. It is our power to claim ourselves. To make choices for ourselves. To establish our boundaries. To be empowered. When our choice is taken away, we are diminished and ripped open. When it is taken away, the dark waters of history close over our heads, drowning us.

    It is also a lie ... the demand of smile when you are in agony. This reinforces our repression and suppression. The lie. Always the lie.

    Only the selfish insist on taking photos, of overriding our needs for their own needs. It is about control. Holding a camera is very powerful. It keeps the person in their safe place, while diminishing your safe place. Dis-empowerment.

    Now, when in a camera situation, I make it clear (nicely) that I have ended friendships over a camera waved in my direction, and if they place any value on our relationship, they will leave me out of their viewfinders. This is an interesting test ... if they do not respect my wishes, it sets the future tone, and ends any possibility of closeness. If they take great care, it allows a new doorway to open, and I will move closer.

    *laughs softly at the mutterings* Indeed ... a painful nerve. There is much we share, mirrors of each other.

    with grace and gratitude,
  12. North Star

    North Star Beloved Grand Eagle

    Yep…control….oh boy, yes it is…

    And then I am challenged to extend the grace that I would like to have extended to myself - a recovering control freak. That messy phase in between, "would like to" and "actually doing so out of genuine care."

    Meh. I think I need to go for a walk now. :)

    Hugs to you, Lily Rose...
    Lily Rose likes this.
  13. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    I have issues with having my photo taken, too. For me it is related mostly to my low self-esteem and perfectionism--I just don't like that I don't look perfect in the photos and therefore don't want evidence of this around. There is a control issue too. I found that when I've had to take a photo for work or something, that if I use the self-timer on my camera and do it by myself where I can control it and edit out the bad photos, it works better. As I wrote this last sentence I realized how symbolic this is of much of my life. I want to control my image. Ahhh, TMS, you are everywhere.....
    North Star and Lily Rose like this.
  14. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    I respect your wishes not to have your picture taken, Lily Rose.
    But rather than end a friendship over it, maybe just look the other way.

    My first dog didn't like having her picture taken and would run into another room
    or if we were in the back yard, would run into her dog house.

    I respected her wishes and stopped taking pictures of her.
    North Star likes this.
  15. Lily Rose

    Lily Rose Beloved Grand Eagle

    If you, Walt, go so far as to respect the wishes of your dog ... this shows the depth of your compassion and understanding. You wanted friendship with your dog, not a relationship where fear was present.

    If a 'friend' denies you the empowerment of saying No, then that really isn't a true friendship, is it? Looking the other way makes the relationship unstable. It creates a barrier where closeness is actually impossible, and it diminishes me.

    Friends listen. Friends care about each other. If this is lacking, there really isn't a friendship. I use the word friend with care. If I deliberately chose to do something to you that hurts you, then I am not the kind of person you want in your life.

    You, Walt ... you have all the great qualities that true friends carry: a compassionate heart, a desire to empower others, and gentle wisdom. Everyone here is blessed by your presence.

    with grace and gratitude,
    North Star and Ellen like this.
  16. Lily Rose

    Lily Rose Beloved Grand Eagle

    Not everyone can be captured in a 2-d image. Using editing helps diminish the flatness of an imperfect portrayal of our self. I don't consider that being a control freak. I consider that a healthy Ego ;)

    with grace and gratitude,
  17. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    I feel blessed having a friend like you, Lily Rose, and the others whom I have met via the wiki.
    Such a warm, caring club we have. I don't go to Facebook or Twitter much, hardly at all,
    but never have found that there. Just people who want everyone to know where they're having lunch
    or going on vacation. Maybe I'm too hard on them, but it all sees so "Me" oriented. I never see that on
    the wiki. We can tell about our pain, but it's another way of sharing and seeking advice.

    And my suggestion about turning the face away when someone takes a picture was wrong,
    you're right that it would be rude and also could send a bad message.

    I may be too compassionate but even if it gives me pain, so be it. I won't change, not at this late age.

    You're right about a true friend. He or she is someone you can share anything with, good or bad.
    You can even say you'd prefer your picture not be taken and a true friend would respect that.
    North Star likes this.
  18. North Star

    North Star Beloved Grand Eagle

    Well, you folks have given me a lot of food for thought. How this thread turned from forgiveness into forgiving self to photo taking is beyond me but I am left in awe at the infinite wisdom in the depths of your heart…and I am also grateful for how this has nourished my soul.

    While on my walk I was musing over this thread and I realized something else. And then I read your comments…Ellen, Walt and Lily Rose. It's like you took me where I needed to go over this whole photo taking topic.

    I set up an account on Google Help Outs for ADHD coaching for parents. I write and speak on ADHD and I LOVE encouraging parents who are just starting out on this. Google has been very kind…loves the services I can bring and has offered any assistance. And where am I?

    I am stalled out on making a 1 minute introduction. I've tried if fifty times. I end up swearing and berating myself. I'm mean….REALLY. I've been joking about it but I'm seeing…it's really not funny. I would never speak to my worst enemy that way!

    The irony is I have no problem with speaking or singing in front of crowds. Go figgur.

    My other idea on my walk was to write a letter to my younger self. I almost started bawling on my walk realizing some things and know I need to follow up with those thoughts. I've weathered a lot of pain as a child and instead of mourning, I did the old "pull yourself up by the bootstraps" routine. Part of that strategy is to be sure to put down yourself so you can beat anyone else to the punch. A strange form of control, me thinks. One of the destructive forms of "entertainment" was all of us kids would sit around the living room and just ridicule one another as some sort of a sick game. My parents were never around so the Lord of the Flies environment took over more times than I care to count.

    Walt, your kindness and gentleness shines in every post. I am so grateful for you and I agree with what you said about FB. Though I will say this, I have a small little group I hand out with there that I enjoy. This was after I shut down my old account and whittled my "Friends" list to a fraction of its former size.

    Thanks for listening everyone. You're seeing part of my heart I don't often share.

    Love to you all….
  19. Lily Rose

    Lily Rose Beloved Grand Eagle

    I know little about ADHD and even less about parenting. Imagine if I fostered an ADHD child ... what would YOU, lovely North Star, tell ME about it? What would be the first things you would say to me?

    So much parallel. To diminish ourselves is an attempt to shrink from the danger, to slip off the radar. The smaller and quieter, less rage blows your direction. It is control. Like throwing up food that someone made you eat. A silent resistance. We have many defenses, some effective, some not so much.

    I do not think I have the courage to visit that younger self. The glimpse of grief your words invoked was enough to sting my eyes. The ocean is dark and deep, and the salt stings open wounds. I am with hope that you will share the thoughts when you are able ... perhaps your courage will send warm rain to nourish.

    with grace and gratitude, my beautiful friend ...
  20. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    Let's have a three-way hug, North Star and Lily Rose.
    I'm hugging right now and Annie is jumping up on me to get in on it.

    My real close friends list was getting small, until I joined the TMSWiki.
    Now I'm rich in new friends like you and others.

    Herbie, Steve, Forest, Becca and many others.

    Did you look at the new thread Forest and Becca posted about the book
    Herbie and I have written? They did a fabulous job.
    We're making a few final corrections so it will be few more days or a week
    before the paperback and Kindle editions are ready.

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