Forgiveness

On my previous post, http://apathoflight.wordpress.com/2014/10/04/choosing-to-be-vulnerable/, I mentioned remembering a little piece of my childhood that has had impact on my life. Not an easy one to remember or even want to mention. Yet, I feel like writing a bit more about it, and hope that it will help others process this kind of experience or similar ones, in case it happened to them.

With my parents being divorced, I had to spend every single weekend at my grandmother’s house. My dad had signed on his divorce agreement that he would come visit me on the weekends. He did visit, but only 5-7 times a year, mostly on birthdays, holidays or some other kind of celebration, to which his presence was highly expected. On all the other weekends, I would just sit there and wait for him. Already understanding waiting for someone who won’t come was a waste of time, I distracted myself with other things – playing with the dog, studying, trying to make friends with the neighbors’ kids, etc. Sometimes, the other people in the house – all adults – would take me to places, probably feeling compassionate for “the abandoned kid”. After my grandfather died, my grandmother lived with her longtime helper (who was very sweet and I considered as a third grandma of mine), the helper’s son (who was sweet to me also and I considered an uncle of mine), and her own younger son, my father’s brother. He married a couple of times, moved away, divorced, and came back to this house many times. When I was ten years old or so, I remember this uncle approaching me one day in a different way. He did not see me as I little kid anymore. He was right, I now looked different with a pre-teen body getting formed. I am not going into details here because it is pretty personal, but I do want to say that I did not like that approach and felt highly intimidated.

Fortunately, before things got worse, at thirteen years old, I had a choice, I finally got a saying on those weekend visits and changed them in a big way. I now would go when I could and maybe even switch to visiting during the week, when only my grandma and her helper were home. I never told my mom or dad about what had happened, just chose to keep it in, to avoid my uncle and watch out for men in general. By no means am I complaining about what happened. I believe the Universe brings us experiences and we decide what to do with them. I decided to close my heart but also to get stronger from this. And when I was seventeen, this same uncle gave me a ride to a place one day and tried to reach for me in an inappropriate way while in the car, and I reacted in a surprisingly powerful way. I showed him my boundaries, said goodbye and left the car. He was speechless; I was empowered! Without a word about it, my body language told it all. I couldn’t believe he was still thinking about that after all those years…

My father’s side of the family was a challenging way for me to see the world. I never understood it much, my mother’s side had everyone trying to get along and doing teamwork, while this side was so disconnected… Nonetheless, I chose to forgive them. Over and over. Maybe I had no choice, maybe I had learned it from other lives prior to this one. But forgiving them served me well, otherwise I would certainly get sick from holding grudges. Interestingly enough, since I was very young, I kept telling my father, as I heard him complaining repeatedly about things that happened during his life, that he should move on from that and let go of the grudges. He would be surprised with my suggestion, stop complaining but not do anything about it. That was his choice. I, on the other hand, chose to forgive all of them, and would even visit my uncle, who married a sweet and loving cousin of ours, periodically as he aged.

More than ten years later, this uncle of mine passed away while I was living out of the country, very far away from him. A few days later, he visited me in dreams. He came wearing almost nothing and sat down next to me. There was a big light from where he came. I sat with him, and he started talking. He apologized for what he had done, without getting into details as we both knew. In the dream, even though I am not sure if I was conscious or not, I chose to look him in the eye, and from a place of power, like the ride in the car years before, I told him I forgave him and he could be in peace about that. He would probably have to pay a few more visits to other women before feeling peaceful though, but my part was clear. No strings attached anymore; we both owned our lessons from that. And not having that resistance inside me makes me feel lighter.

We all have been through issues in life, and sometimes we hold onto some of them… I recommend you sit quietly for a few minutes. Take a few deep breaths, and try to relax completely. Then ask yourself if there is any grudge you’ve been holding onto. Maybe it is recent, maybe it is from a long time ago. Sometimes we even forget what happened but hold onto some negativity about someone we once had trouble with. Ask yourself if the grudge is still necessary… Do you still need this inside you? Would you be able to transform it into something more positive? Would you be able to let it go? Do you feel ready to try to let it go? One of the quotes below gives a hint to see if you are ready or not. And, remember, if you feel ready or not, it doesn’t matter, love yourself anyway.

forgivequote

forgive

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Choosing to Be Vulnerable

How much are you willing to share with others? To “let people in” and see the real you, who admits surfing through the waves life provides, sometimes struggling and some other times enjoying it to the maximum. It is not easy to choose vulnerability. Since we were children, many of us have been told to swallow up our tears and be strong no matter what. Well, guess what? Even if we try to be like superman, life will find many variations of kryptonite, not to simply torture us, but to help us evolve and turn into a better person. This all becomes way easier when we admit our weaknesses and strengths, willing to love both sides all of us have. So what if we are not perfect? It is not a requirement to qualify as a human being who deserves to be loved.

When I became a teenager and got into having crushes on boys, my cousins, who hung out with me a lot and were in their late teens, told me to never trust boys. They always repeated that boys would hurt us no matter what. Yet I saw them also having crushes and going out with boyfriends. That got me confused… “So, they are telling me to avoid boys but they themselves are all over them?”, I thought. I couldn’t help but get into crushes also and have a few relationships in those teenage years. However, one thing they taught me was fear. I feared getting hurt by boys, those mean guys who had no feelings and we chose to date them anyway because we just couldn’t help it… With fear dominating and teen crushes rushing through me, I made the decision to have a few experiences but keeping my heart mostly closed. Who likes to suffer anyway? I thought if I didn’t let people know me very deeply, I’d avoid getting hurt. Well, I’ve learned that it can reduce the suffering while also reducing how much love and joy you can feel. Having had a father who was absent throughout most of my life (my divorced parents had me go to my grandma’s house every weekend, when my dad was supposed to come see me, but he’d only visit about 5-7 times a year) only reinforced to me that boys do hurt girls. Especially when it starts with your own father. I want to make it clear here that I hold no grudge against my dad as I’ve come to understand this was a necessary part of my growth (and his, too).

Those weekends at my grandmother’s house were painful, as I have mentioned before in another post. One reason was that I had to say no to friends’ invitations to go have fun at their places only to sit at my grandma’s house with adults only and nothing to do. My most helpful occupation, besides studying, was a playful dog she had. Another reason for disliking those weekend visits was leaving my mother’s side of the family at home to go to this other house, only familiar to me for two days a week, and yet not familiar at all… On Saturday nights, I’d miss my mother’s hug when tucking me into bed and the connection I had with her parents, who lived with us, and seemed to always be there for me. One terrible reason I hated going there also was remembered by me recently: my uncle, who also lived at my grandma’s house, tried to abuse me. From what I remember, he didn’t go that far to scar me in a deeper way, but did shine brighter lights on all the warnings I had received against boys and men in general… And so, I hardened my heart even more.

Many years later, after much soul searching and experiences, I have decided to keep my heart open. Every single day. I will be honest: Sometimes it hurts so much that I question my decision, but then I continue to do so, and I don’t regret it. I truly believe my experience here on Earth has become richer after this decision. I am this incredible being living a human experience, which involves it all – dark and light, and the other expressions of duality. Learning to not get attached to either extreme is not easy, yet it is motivating to reaffirm to myself everything is transient. My point here is that, even though I learned from early in life that it’d be safer to keep my heart closed, there’s always time in life to choose the opposite and live from an open heart; inviting new people into our relations and being available to the lessons they bring, while being willing to share what’s going on with you on the inside, willing to be vulnerable and admitting to being as imperfect as any other human being. Well, sure it may hurt a lot sometimes, but it will also bring many feelings (such as love) in amplified ways, helping me embrace both spectrums of life experiences.

This post started taking form after I read these passages from the book A Return to Love, by Marianne Williamson:

“Having been taught since we were children that we are separate, finite beings, we have a very hard time when it comes to love. Love feels like a void that threatens to overwhelm us, and that’s because, in a certain sense, it is and it does. It overwhelms our small self, our lonely sense of separateness since that sense of separateness is who we think we are, we feel like we’ll die without it. What’s dying is the frightened mind, so the love inside us can get a chance to breathe.”

“Our comfort zones are the limited areas in which we find it easy to love.”

Quotation-Marianne-Williamson-fear-love-Meetville-Quotes-1091

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Feeling Like a Kid Again!

There was a downpour yesterday afternoon, also bringing thunder and lightning, which are exciting phenomena for the place I live in, since thundershowers are rare here. I just couldn’t resist… The sound of the rain falling really hard on the roof, windows, the ground, and plants stirred some stuff inside me and many memories from when I was much younger came back. I loved getting drenched in the rain, it was such a big relief for all the heat we usually dealt with while I lived in Rio de Janeiro. Those afternoon thundershowers were cleansing (in more ways than you can imagine as it moves all kinds of things left on the streets), refreshing and renewing.

After hearing the raindrops for a while, I decided to join nature! I went out and stood in the rain for a while, letting it cleanse me. It felt so good! Pretty soon I was frolicking in the rain. The neighbors probably thought I had gone mad, but I was simply inebriated by joy. And why couldn’t I go play outside like a kid? Actually, why do we ever lose touch with that kid inside of us? Connecting to that kid is so good for the heart and does amazing things for the soul! I am not sure how long that never-ending moment lasted, but it was captured by my younger kid in the picture below. I was drenched and enjoying it very much! Eventually, my kid decided to join me for a minute or so as an accomplice to find out what that madness was about.  chuvaJul2014

After a while, we noticed it had rained so much that water had piled up on my driveway and was entering the garage… We quickly jumped into some teamwork with brooms, buckets and mops to cleanup, ending even more drenched than when we started, yet feeling invigorated. I am thankful for having the opportunity to be able to play in the rain once again; it’s rare to have warm rain where I live.

How does one strong thundershower make you feel inside?

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