Love coaches and spiritual teachers alike advocate for completing the past. Forgiveness, as in letting go of our deeply held feelings rather than the act itself, helps us move beyond our past mistakes and other's transgressions. Taking responsibility, when appropriate, for even the tiny part we might have played, helps empower us and alleviate feelings of victimization.
I sincerely believed that I had made peace with my past. Having completed many additional steps on the road to romance, I was beginning to wonder why I hadn't arrived yet. Despite much inner work and outer engagement, I felt at a standstill. While I was meeting interesting men, I had yet to hear that mutual "click."
The arrival of the Jewish New Year with its practice of introspection offered an opportunity to examine my interactions with others; forgiving all and clearing the slate for a new year.
I asked my inner self to bring forth what needed to be forgiven. Trusting an answer would come, I went for a walk. Walking is one practice that has accompanied me from east to west coast. Clarity most often comes while walking.
Listening for inner prompts, I found myself in Golden Gate Park, arriving at the Dahlia Garden just in time to hear the last song of several jazz musicians playing nearby. Beauty, music and a warm San Francisco night filled me with gratitude.
Feeling an intuitive tug, I headed out of the park and up a nearby hill. A house caught my attention. I paused. I recognized it as the one my ex-husband had moved into decades ago with a woman who was becoming my friend. I had met her in a '70s consciousness raising group. Life can be quite ironic.
I thought I had forgiven them long ago, but could sense some residue of the anger I felt back then. I continued to observe as two cars in front of the house began to pull out of their parking spaces. The woman from the car in the rear got out yelling to the driver of the other car, "I'm stuck. I'm stuck."
I'm stuck, too, I thought to myself with amusement, thinking of what appeared to be a standstill with my online dating. I observed with fascination as the synchronicity of this life lesson unfolded.
The woman was tugging at something I couldn't see. She turned towards her friend, who stood by accessing the situation, giving me a better view. I realized that her fanny pack was dangling from the side of her silk pants.
I wondered how it was sticking to her and what might be sticking to me. Anger was my immediate thought. I realized it was my not-quite-and-never-to-become-a-friend and my younger self who needed more forgiving. It was time to let go of any residual anger.
While I witnessed the woman trying to gently detach her fanny pack without further snagging the material of her pants, I reflected on the scenario from my past. I caught a glimpse of my part in the betrayal. I'd invited someone I'd yet to build trust with into my home. My husband's moving out had been hampered by procrastination.
Somewhere inside I must have known that bringing a beautiful woman in as my roommate before he moved out was a potential set up for high drama. While this may have been unconscious, his moving out of our home was not. He and I had planned the physical separation yet, I was having a hard time holding him accountable.
Standing outside the house they each had separately vacated decades earlier, I wondered if I had been worried or scared about being left alone in California. I'd already given up what I had in NYC: my apt on Christopher Street; my job, although that was quite easy to leave; even contact with most of my friends, as I cocooned with him and gave up much of my own life.
Reflecting without judgment, I forgave myself for focusing on his needs while putting very little attention on my own. I apologized for being less than loving to myself. It would be years before my emotional intelligence caught up with my IQ.
Without taking on shame or guilt or even blame, I let go of what remained unforgiven. I forgave my roommate of decades ago. With an inner nod to Irony I admitted that she did, unknowingly, help me to separate both physically and emotionally from my husband. The energy of anger goes a long way in helping us follow through on what needs to be done. I forgave us all.
Simultaneously, back in present time, the stuck woman separated her pack from her pants with a cry of "I did it!" The woman, empowered, returned to the driver's seat.
I nodded in solidarity, pivoted and continued walking, feeling very free.