“You are married to sorrow.” And I looked at him and said, “I am not married to sorrow. I just choose not to look away.”
And I think there is deep beauty in not averting our gaze.
No matter how hard it is, no matter how heartbreaking it can be. It is about presence. It is about bearing witness.
I used to think bearing witness was a passive act. I don’t believe that anymore. I think that when we are present, when we bear witness, when we do not divert our gaze, something is revealed—the very marrow of life. We change. A transformation occurs. Our consciousness shifts. —Terry Tempest Williams
A friend who read my book: “From Mud to Lotus; I meant to behave but there were too many other options” asked me, “Why did you forgive your parents? And how did you do it?”
My answer was:
I believe in Karma and reincarnation. The unfinished business we don’t complete in this lifetime we carry to the next. After transitioning, we will have to meet the same person to complete and clear what we didn’t finish in this lifetime. To understand this concept better, you can read the book Initiation by Elizabeth Hyke for a good exploration.
I committed to complete my unfinished feelings by confronting and release negative and unexpressed positive feelings toward my parents. I came to believe through my Buddhist meditation practice that life heals us when we bear witness to reality, noticing rather than wishing for a certain result. Eventually I learned to accept reality.
When my parents grew old, I realized they were human and wouldn’t change. It became noticeably clear to me that to heal my unfinished baggage in a relationship, and more so in a karmic relationship like family– which we didn’t choose but share experiences all our life nonetheless– The burden was calling me to let go. I needed to come into my heart and feel and send love. No matter what the story or history. I knew I had to be the change. I wanted to be free, which meant giving up wanting or demanding any change from them now, in the future, or in our past. I chose to love them instead.
Accepting them as they are relieved me from carrying the weight of sorrow, anger and disappointment. I understood that this may mean saying to them what I felt directly despite my discomfort. I was nervously willing to bear the pain with awareness and acceptance which I knew from experience melted the anguish and penetrated deeper into the heart and the experience of love, unconditional love. That presence, owning and bearing my reactions seemed to allow the same relaxation and release to them as well. I felt hopeful that we might meet in healing. In my book you’ll see how we met in love and forgiveness.
That freedom from dependency on “them changing” for me feels appropriate. — I said to my friend–That is what I define as forgiveness. It is a gift to me while releasing the other simultaneously.