One of my dear mentors said that the events and people we experience, all of them, good and difficult, make up the fabric of who we are. The best we can do in a life well lived is to make peace with those experiences, so that they have the chance to become our teachers.
These words felt quite discouraging to me when I first heard them. I was at the beginning of my healing journey, and was nowhere near making peace with the hurt that lived in my heart. The story of loss and abandonment in my childhood had become my heroic badge, somehow—it was what I held on to when I lost everything. It was my weakness and my pride at the same time. Speaking to others about the losses relieved the hurt for a while, as if I had made it through the pain and was now on the other side of the sadness. Yet, nothing could have been further from the truth.
What I didn’t understand then was that as long as the unresolved effects of the sad imprints stayed in my life, the longer the pain would linger. I was stuck with it. Eventually, my badge of honor felt heavier and heavier, a burden too big to bear. I thought back to my mentor’s words, and I opened my heart to them. I realized that I was nowhere near transforming my pain into something better. I was still the child that had been left. The only way out of that desperate place was to find a path of self healing that would allow me to go back and experience the hurt of all those years ago, this time transforming it into strength, knowledge and understanding.
In an effort to survive the disorder and pain of those losses I had closed myself off to what it felt like to be left. The only way back home to myself was to feel that loss again, and to fully realize how far I had come. I had to send myself the message that although those experiences turned my world upside down, they no longer were the reality of my present day life.
I wanted to make my pain into my teacher, and to forgive it. I wanted the imprint of my experiences to become my guide rather than my enemy. I set out on a path of forgiveness, healing my young child self and my adult self, too. I looked for a therapist that could help me identify the behaviors that were no longer supportive of my healing path. I found yoga, meditation and self care practices that nurtured my body, heart and spirit back to life.
What I found, as I turned towards the hurt, was that the more I held it, listened to it, and healed through it, the more compassionate I became towards it. My heart opened to the circumstances of my life, and to the people that had hurt me. I looked from other points of view. I started considering the conditions of their lives when they left, and had compassion for what they must have been feeling in order to do something so drastic. With all the time and energy I had spent thinking about my childhood losses, I had never thought of them in those terms before.
My life opened more and more with this forgiveness. Now whenever my teacher, pain, appears, I practice self love and forgiveness and with this beautiful opportunity I am a more devoted student of my life.
I now know that all the many scenes and characters of my life have had a purpose: they’ve all come to teach me about who I am, guiding me closer to my strength, my happiness and my purpose here on earth. That feels like a life worth living.