The act of forgiveness is not easy. At times, it can be more painful to forgive the person who inflicted the wound over the pain caused from the wound itself. Yet there is no peace without forgiveness. One of my biggest acts of forgiveness realized was to forgive my birthmother for walking out on me when I was a 2 years old. As a child, I didn't understand the situation, and my father could only provide his slated perspective, which of course cast my birthmother in a dark shadow. Fortunately for my brother and I, my father remarried when I was a young child and his wife embraced us and truly embodied the family role as my mother.
During my school years and into college I never had the desire to reach out to my birthmother, even when given several opportunities to do so. I was resentful and feared what would become of our relationship. I was apprehensive of what my parents would think. The pressure from others to connect with my birthmother was high. What could I learn from her that I couldn't learn or hadn't already learned from others in my life journey? She had abandoned me, and that was her decision, after all.
In my early 20's I was compelled toward spiritual work in all forms. I came to appreciate and hold a continuously growing space of gratitude in my heart for my father and mother - and even for my birthmother. I finally understood that by walking away from her children, she catalyzed the opportunity for me to grow up in a stable home and a stable family that she was not able or willing to provide. Regardless of this revelation, the disgust and resentment had an enduring place in my heart.
That all changed this past Spring. I suddenly had this intense, internal burning desire to reach out to my birthmother and settle the uneasiness within once and for all. EarIy one morning I found her on Facebook and sent her a private message. To my surprise, she quickly responded, and we ended up messaging each other for the entire day. I finally had the opportunity to ask her so many questions about herself, her life, and what she had been doing for the last decades. She willingly answered every one of them, but never once asked me a question in return. I hadn't seen this woman in 25 years, yet she never asked me a single question about me or my life, and the realization was jarring. That evening I felt so much sorrow in my heart, and the myriad of feelings from rejection to abandonment filled my being. In my darkest moment of sorrow, the voice in my heart implored me to pray and meditate, and I obliged. Then I silently and personally forgave her. I sent her a final message and said goodbye.
The day I forgave my birthmother, my heart opened beyond my expectations. Even now as I write this, I'm overwhelmed with love in my heart. By forgiving her, I finally released everything I was holding onto, everything I was projecting onto her, and everything that was keeping me in a perpetual state of emotional bondage. The feelings of abandonment and of loneliness suddenly evaporated into the air. I fell deeper in love with my partner Chris as I shared a side of me I had never showed him before. I wrote my mom - the woman who actually raised me and who I refer to as my true mom - a personal letter of love and gratitude. The forgiveness in my own experience made me more nurturing to my students, and more authentic in my relationships.
To forgive someone is not to forget. To forgive someone is to see his or her innocence. When we can look into the eyes of another and see the reflection of God in the other person, we are able to realize that understanding and forgiveness is the true path toward living the best life we can.