Forgiveness and Consequences

I forgave myself this week. I forgave myself and allowed myself to tell me “I love you”.

Please forgive the horribly me-centric nature of the above statement. It’s a very difficult sentiment to write in the first person, and I’m quite certain that I’ve muffed it, though I am certainly not perceptive enough to see how.

The point is that this week, something inexpressibly profound and meaningful happened to/for me, and I felt the need to share it here. Initially, I posted about it on Facebook and figured that would be the end of it, but the more I consider it, the more I believe it needs to be recorded here, as well.

So, I present the original post here, after which I will attempt to elaborate just a bit:

I just did something I never envisioned myself actually doing:
While meditating, I was inspired to put my hand over my heart, and in that moment, I said “I forgive you, Matthew, and I love you.”
I’ve NEVER in my almost 54 years been able to say those things to myself. But tonight, I did, and I meant them so completely that the truth of it broke me down into blubbering tears for several minutes. So much so that I’m only now able to breathe again.
My self-loathing and guilt have become such an integral part of my identity that it was physically traumatic to have them just wrenched away in an instant like that. But I feel so inexplicably different now.
I have an intense feeling that things are going to begin to change very quickly now.

Thank you. Thank you God, thank you Universe, thank you Life, thank you Sky…
…and thank you one and all, my dear and beloved family and friends. You all mean more to me than I can ever express.

There.  It was, in an epic understatement, quite the moment.

I was doing a “guided” meditation using the Insight Timer app, a gratitude exercise which was designed to bring forward in the mind the blessings in life; to remind one of all the gifts with which they are surrounded even in what may seem to be the darkest of times. I do such meditations frequently, as I believe that gratitude is among the most powerful and creative emotions, opening the floodgates of life for countless more things to be grateful for.
This was, however, the first time I had done this particular meditation, and as it suggested putting hand to heart, I did something very unusual for me; where I would normally move my right hand to cover the spot on my chest just left of center (this is the motion with which we are all programmed from youth, whether pledging allegiance to the flag, standing for the national anthem, or swearing to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth), I found my left hand moving on its own. Being a lefty, this felt hugely significant to me, though even in hindsight I can’t recall a conscious decision to use my left. When my hand rested on my chest, however, all awareness of the meditation guide speaking through my headphones disappeared, and the electricity of that touch was the sole focus of my attention. At the very first sensation of fingertips to chest, my mind and heart lasered in on those eight words, and they came forth, all bud unbidden, from my lips: “I forgive you, Matthew, and I love you.”
I don’t think I can possibly overstate the impact of this moment on my body and my soul. Imagine carrying a load for 40 years, a load so heavy and overwhelming that your back is permanently bowed and each moment is a torture, struggling for every step and breath. You’ve carried this load for so long that it has become an integral part of you. You don’t even give the weight conscious consideration anymore, you merely exist with it, and accept the constant agony as your “lot in life”; this is so enduring and unshakeable that it must be what you deserve, what God (if you can still allow yourself to believe in such a thing) intends for you.
Then imagine, without thinking about it or planning it in any way, you just cast that weight away. Just like that. Suddenly, pain-free and with straight back, you realize that this burden you’ve carried for so long was entirely of your own creation, and carrying it was your decision and there is no one else in the world to blame. Instant elation and immeasurable relief followed immediately by crushing self-recrimination. But you’ve already let that burden go, so this time the anger and guilt and self-loathing just wash right away, like water from the proverbial duck’s back.

In the wake of that moment two nights ago, I find myself feeling different in every moment. I still cry almost constantly, but not like before, not sad tears brought on by loneliness and grief; rather tears of beauty and appreciation, as if every perceived moment of beauty were amplified a thousandfold and exploding within my heart, welling up and spilling forth from my eyes. Just an hour or two before this happened, I saw a television commercial for a jeweler, with the man giving his wife the lovely diamond Valentine at dinner (yes, six days after the holiday the ads were still airing) and wept at the cruelty of never doing that again with my Jacquelynn. I saw a similar ad today and wept again, but in joy for the idea of that love expressed and shared. Literally, ANY moment of joy or beauty generates tears now. Heaven forbid anyone be in the room if I watch another video of a dog being reunited with a returning military parent now!

I’ll be an absolute mess.

A joyous, celebratory mess.

I still don’t know what tomorrow holds, and I don’t harbor any illusions that I’m done with my grief. But I don’t fear tomorrow, and I don’t believe that my grief will hold me back anymore. I’m no longer afraid to move forward for fear of repeating the same “mistakes” or of opening myself to vulnerability. I believe beyond any doubt that I am now living and will continue to live my best, blessed life, and it will get better with every breath, every tear, and every day.

And I believe in the fullness of my heart that I have my Jacquelynn and her letter to me to thank.

Along with every one of you, as well.

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