The Truth Will Set You Free
I got slapped in the face last week with a mirror reflecting some of my past behavior and it made me less than proud.
A person I’ve known for over 20 years messaged me to tell me she had just viewed the documentary that Robin Greenspun made about my life, The Zen Speaker: Breaking the Silence. She went on to tell me how it will benefit others and complimented me generously. Then she told me that she hadn’t liked me, that she had found me unkind and that she even viewed me as cruel because of how I treated a friend of hers. Although the situation was 20+ years ago, I remembered it—and she was right. I was wrong, I was mean, and it has bothered me for years. Several years ago, I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to apologize to the person my cruelty was directed at, and she accepted it graciously. I saw her in person after that and apologized once again. It didn’t take the pain away that I had caused her, it didn’t make it right, and it certainly didn’t dissolve my regret and guilt. The writer ended her first message with more kind words about the positive change she saw in me through the film.
I responded by acknowledging my past behavior, sharing that I had apologized, and telling her how guilty and badly I still felt. She reminded me she had written to celebrate me, and then shared something else I had done that she didn’t like. This continued until she had added a few more memories I regretted, although I didn’t remember them all. Beautiful compliments about the current me, which she had discovered through the film, accompanied the memories I was forced—but hated—to revisit.
What an uncomfortable gift she handed me! It held so many lessons in it, some of which will take me awhile longer to process. And now, I have someone I have liked and admired over the years as a friend because she opened her heart enough to allow a different me in.
What were some of the lessons for me?
That forgiving myself is still a work in progress and worth the effort.
That there are others out there who haven’t confronted me who feel the same way she did. Can I reach out to anyone else and make amends?
Instead of being passive aggressive, honestly stating our feelings of hurt and anger can be healing for both parties.
I need to do more shadow work (Carl Jung) and remember to accept and integrate my shadow self. I’ve begun to work on that again with my spiritual guide/therapist.
While I was whining that all I wanted was to hear “I’m sorry” from my mother (which I did finally hear last year after she saw my documentary—and yes, it healed us!), how many people are out there hoping to hear the same from me? Forgiveness meditations and rituals may be all I can do to reach them, but I’m determined to do what I can.
I can’t fool myself and say all my unkindness was left in my past—it rears its ugly head still, although much less often. But once is too much for the person it’s aimed at, and I believe this is where my focus needs to be—this awareness which will lead to less of that behavior and to more healing. I’m so grateful this awareness was brought to me by the courageous message my new friend sent me.
Finding my voice also means finding the soft one; the one that can authentically and compassionately say, “I am sorry.”
Let’s make this a day of amends. Is there someone that deserves an apology from you? Is it possible for you to directly make amends or could you at least write a letter even if it never gets sent? Maybe starting with yourself will help. Try this: Close your eyes or gaze down softly, take 3-4 deep breaths and then say to yourself, “I am sorry I have been so unkind to you, (say your name). Please forgive me. I love you.”
When we master self-forgiveness, miracles will happen! And you are worthy of a miracle!
President, The Zen Speaker
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