“Forgive them even if they are not sorry”… a valuable life lesson to learn

Are you in Pain?  Take yourself on a Forgiveness Retreat. I did.

It was August 2010, I was on a church weekend Forgiveness Retreat.   I had heard about the retreat a couple weeks before and knew immediately, with every cell of my body, a 100% yes !, that I needed to get myself there.  No matter what favors or babysitting I had to call in, my heart and soul knew I needed some deep level healing.  I may not have been ready to heal just yet, I was still licking my wounds. I was more at a place where I was trying to practice deep breathing between emotional roller-coaster outbreaks of “Why me?” and “What next?”.

So there I was, at this forgiveness retreat, not having any idea what to expect.  I was new to the divorce journey and I hadn’t quite found my allies of support just yet.  I was too busy processing the pain and trying to accept this new life for myself. On top of this pain distraction I had just moved back home to the bay area and was attending a church I hadn’t gone to since I was in High School.  I was still in a no man’s land, somewhere in between the life I was leading before the “life change” happened and the space in between where I didn’t know quite who to trust, talk to and where to receive support. I was a little lost.  And as a woman who had always prided herself on knowing what she wanted and where she was going this was hard for me.

I walked into the main hall of the retreat center and it was dark and uninviting. I was early. I was the first one there.  Great, this is going to be a long weekend, I thought to myself. Can I still return to my car and take off before anyone see’s me?  Apparently my spirit wanted me to get over myself and be there for healing but my broken heart, overwhelmed mind and distrusting body wasn’t quite on board yet.

Me? somewhere early, that never happens.  Usually I’m squeezing in a workout or an errand and walking in just in time.  But that day I was there early because I was scared.  I was out of my comfort zone but I was also eager to do something different in my recovery.  It had been more than 6 months since I’d started my divorce journey and I wasn’t in a good place yet. Before I had the chance to dart to the door a woman called out to me.  It was the pastor leading the retreat.

There was another reason I was there early.   Before the retreat we could book special prayer time with the pastor throughout the weekend. I nabbed the first spot.  I wanted to be able to tell the pastor if I was crying uncontrollable that I was fine.  I didn’t want the group to worry about me or hold up the itinerary of the workshop.  I wanted her to know my story before the weekend began. It was my tendency to hide, overlook my own needs and take care of others needs before my own.  Not this time. I wanted to heal.  I wanted to have accountability with the pastor who was leading the retreat.  I wanted to have a “deal” that this time I was going to break some of my life long patterns that I was beginning to identify. I didn’t want my life to ever be in this magnitude of depletion, turmoil, loss and grief ever again.  It was too painful.  To great of a loss.

After we met, the pastor walked me outside to a garden spot.  As we sat there overlooking a Mountain view, she told me a little about her story and how she came about to leading the retreat.  I then began to open up to her and share with her my story.

Healing takes admitting you are in PAIN

Why did this retreat call to me? Why am I here?  It had been more than 6 months since my life and marriage relationship had forever changed and I needed more then the weekly counseling sessions and the books I was reading. I needed to find a way to integrate forgiveness into my unraveling marriage relationship or the pain was going to get the best of me.  I wasn’t a fan of forgiveness but I needed to do things differently. I wanted to stop crying.  I wanted to be happy again.

I told the pastor I was going through a separation process with my Husband of 10 years.  We had 2 small children together, age 3 and 4 1/2.  Our separation was a complete surprise to me.  To say the rug was pulled out from under me was an understatement. I never saw our abrupt and painful ending coming.  (Well at that point I was oblivious, I was busy with 2 small children and running a fitness business from my home.  Later as I did more work I did see more pieces of the puzzle I was able to see later, but that is a sharing for another day.)

Even though I wasn’t a fan of forgiveness I instinctively knew that I needed to get my bearings on who I was and what I wanted so that I could make some real life decisions.  Life decisions that would forever impact my family as I knew it.  I didn’t know much about the journey I was on but I did know that I didn’t want to make any decisions out of hurt, anger or fear… I wanted to at least make my important life changing decisions from a neutral place.

Forgiveness work only works if you actually want to set the intention to forgive someone.  I wasn’t there yet. And that was okay.  I was still so resentful to my husband I knew I needed to clear that before I could do the next layers.   Honestly, I had enough self-awareness that I was there that weekend with the intention of hearing people talk about forgiveness not actually ready to take it on the practice for myself. Not yet.

Since that weekend, I have learned again and again, that my soul came here to learn a life lesson. A Life lesson of practicing “FORGIVENESS”…. Note to self, please choose a life lesson a little less traumatic next time, please !?… Thank you.

So in the energy of teaching what we most want to learn…I need to flex my muscle a little and tell you the truth…on that weekend “forgiveness retreat” my wise pastor who heard my story… took a deep knowing breathe and said:

Build your Forgiveness MUSCLE

“Meredith, that’s a lot of forgiveness you will need to access to come through this to the other side.  I know you have the courage and the strength to do this but it is going to take work and a lot of time on your part.  You are an athlete, think of forgiveness as a muscle, this weekend, is only 48 hour container, this forgiveness with your husband is too much to accomplished in such little amount of time.  Let’s think of something small, small disappointments, small betrayals, small heartbreaks…that you can practice working on in the meantime, this way you can build some muscle this weekend and you can keep going when you are ready.”

This pastor was speaking in terms I could understand.  I could practice the way a beginner runner would run a 5k, then work her/his way up to a 10k, then a half-marathon and so on.  Taking each mile a couple blocks or laps around a track at a time.   No runner would just do a Marathon without a lot of work, time and planning.  So neither was I going to forgive my husband overnight in a short weekend.

With this advice I could breathe a little deeper. Or actually start breathing. I think in all the shock and trauma and upheaval in the months leading up to this retreat. I don’t think I had been doing much breathing. Sobbing yes…breathing and surrendering into the process, No!  Accepting it was going to be a long, very long process. No, definitely not.

The Weekend retreat started.  The retreat was full of exercises, ceremony, music, quiet time and prayers.  If you are a place that you too need to admit your pain, try this exercise below. If you are also feeling blocked of giving and receiving love freely in your life also try this exercise, it will help unblock you:

Forgiveness Exercise, start your List:

Step 1) Take out a piece of paper and answer the following questions. Write down names and as many details and emotions that come to the surface for you. Be open, vulnerable and allowing:

Who has hurt you?

Who has told you, that you couldn’t BE something you wanted to BE?

Who has told you, that you couldn’t DO something you wanted to DO?

Who has told you No?

Step 2)  Go back and rank the level of forgiveness on a scale of 1-10 how painful it is to forgive that person.  Work on your lowest levels first, then work your way up this way you will build up your forgiveness muscles and take the time that you need.

Step 3) Keep this list. Meditate daily on this list. Sit with the name, or names. Be in a posture of sending love and forgiveness to the person. Give yourself Grace for as long as this takes.  Keep asking for help and support from those who have walked the forgiveness road too.  Admit that that your journey is hard, then breathe and keep going.

 

More inspiration from the retreat.

Over this weekend I also heard these powerful releasing words,

“Forgive them, even if they are not sorry”

Did that ever take my breathe away.  These words shook me up.  Up until that time all my conditioning had been, that I could forgive someone if they said they were sorry and said the right thing.  Childhood flashbacks of my 2 sisters and I fighting and our parents demanding us to face each other with eye contact, through tears and say we were sorry.

To be honest, my ex-husband did tell me he was sorry over and over again.  In fact, he wrote me over 100 love letters…but I had gone to a place of unforgiving. Trauma and pain will do that to you.   I remember reading his letters and even wanting to hear specific certain words from him.  Nothing was acceptable.  I now know that was my heart had hardened and closed in pain.

The Healing Journey

In my divorce journey I have learned a new ability to strive towards recognize the pain, staying open in the pain and showing up in and with LOVE anyway. This is so tough to learn and can only be learned by practice.  Yes, and in my experience the Universe will send you those exact relationships to practice your needed skills if you need them.  But I promise you, the more I have practiced, the stronger my forgiveness muscles, the more freedom and love I have been able to enjoy in my relationships.

In closing, if you are working on forgiveness muscles I want to leave you with another quote that I have served me in prayer, meditation and journal time in breakthroughs to deeper and deeper forgiveness:

“You can have a grievance or you can have a miracle but you can not have both”  Marianne Williamson.

Some forgiveness mantra’s that have helped me:

“The success of my Relationship is always in my Hands”

“Freedom is a choice. Not something that happens to US”

“I am giving and receiving profound Love”

 

It’s been 8 years since I first started this forgiveness journey, divorce journey, healing journey and I am still going.  And that is okay!  Each person I meet on this journey leads me to a deeper understanding of myself and a lighter perspective of true Freedom.

Yours in Love, Big Love, the kind of love that loves through the pain, sitting in a body with deep healing.

Yours in the healing journey!

Meredith K. Mills

If you are finding yourself facing the need to forgive someone, in pain and struggling through it. You are not alone.  Please contact me through MeredithMillsCoaching.com. I’d be happy to support you on your Life Change and healing journey.  I’ve been there and I can help support you to get to the other side.

 

Advertisements

Divorce Recovery 5 years out: Showing up with more love and more forgiveness

Feb. 26, 2017

I had a “Facebook memory” this a.m. and was moved to recognize THIS woman I was 5 years ago!!!
There I was….facing Change, Loss and Transition. In 1 day my life as I knew it changed. Security, Love, Marriage, Trust, Faith, Safe Harbor, Comfort, etc etc was gone.
What did I do?…in that deep valley of pain?…, all I knew was to focus #1 on God and I asked him over and over and over,…in anger, in frustration, in Why Me?, in tears, in fear, on my knees, in weeping, in prayer, in sadness, in disappointment, in loneliness, in weakness…..and the answers kept coming.
The Best thing I did was find myself, find my strength.
I returned to my outer strength of being a Competitive Athlete.
What was life giving to me? I returned to running, biking, swimming. These adventures and workouts made me feel free, strong, and that my whole life was ahead of me and that I could handle “anything” that was coming my way, not that my life was “over”…..It also helped me move thru all the emotions I was experiencing.
So today I celebrate!! Wahoo! Cheers to this Woman I was 5 years ago, on the cliff’s just north of UCSB. Enjoying the beach, the trails, the salt water air, the breathtaking views of the ocean, the sounds of the waves. Soaking it all in. I was also the fittest I’d ever been (2 months out from qualifying for Triathlon World Championships, and 1 month out from PR half marathon 1:35!! beating the PR I set when I was 24!! That felt good to have my body at optimal health and performance.
And to the emotional part, the inner strength that has all continued to be work in progress. After I reclaimed and built up those outer muscles the inner strength has followed. I have continued to spend the last 5 years of realigning myself with God and his plans for my life, working thru relationships that have grown me and challenged me. And of course the health and healing journey!!
Now it is a continued cycle of renewing my faith in my future by being more present then I’ve ever been able to be. Taking time out to meditate, pray and show up FULLY every day, in ALL my relationships with
#forgiveness
#love
The 35 year old version of me was so set on what my life was suppose to be AND I didn’t have the tools to surrender and forgive when that life path, life expectation changed.
The 40+ version of me keeps saying….. build that muscle, build that muscle, build that muscle. AND keep going…..
Showing up with more love, more forgiveness, more love, more forgiveness.
Sending you all much HOPE this morning.
Hugs in the healing journey!!!

Meredith

mkm

Even Health Coaches get Sick…What 5 things I did when I got a brain tumor diagnosis

MiamiBeachrun

It’s January 2016.

I am running a new path today.  A path of healing.  After 2 month’s “off” of coaching and working out I am so grateful and happy to be moving my body again.  And when I say grateful I mean the deep down happy, soul level, happy to be back at life… grateful.

It all started in late October 2015, I woke up with flu symptoms that turned into days and days then weeks and weeks of life stopping migraines.  Worse yet, occipital migraines which means my eyes couldn’t focus long enough for me to drive, let alone work, run or bike.  Even reading or watching a movie was a stretch. I resolved myself to “listen” to movies.   From the minute I woke up to the minute I went to bed I had what felt like a jack hammer echoing in my head.  Overnight, this busy go-go-go Health and Life Coach, triathlete and solo parenting Mom of 2 was couch bound for weeks and life as I knew it was put on “hold”, complete standstill  for 2 months.

WHAT did I do?……Right away I did 5 things when I got my diagnosis.  First things first, I immediately went inward for healing.  I increased my long time morning practice of journaling time and added meditation time.  I came away from the ambulance ride, the ER visit, the pain killer medications and MRI results and turned to my holistic healers (acupuncture, osteopathic physician, essential oils, and energy chakra and sound therapy healers).  I was determined not to be medicated and use nutrition to heal me.  Please know that I didn’t find all the help I needed overnight it was a day by day, even hour by hour process.  If you are facing a life threatening illness you must be patient.

I had a SIMPLE GOAL.  Each day I just set out with a strong desire to live without massive pain radiating from my head to the rest of my body.  I had a strong manta in my heart of, “I will change and do anything and everything to heal.”  To heal, I started with baby steps. I wanted to reduce 24 hrs of migraine pain, to less 2 hours here and less 2 hours there…each day.  “I just want to be migraine free” I kept saying.   I also had family, friends, colleagues, clients and acquaintances pray for me when I got discouraged or overwhelmed with the questions of why me? and why now?  I also took my family and friend’s up on their offers to help with my kids, groceries and meals.  Both were hard.  Sitting still was a task I had no developed muscle all on its own.  And asking for help?!?! that was foraging new territory.

I have a good track record.  You know the one where I tell you I’ve been here before and I’ve squeezed the lemons into lemonade.  This season was different.  It took me. It knocked the wind out of me.  I had to be still.  I had to suffer pain and discomfort on the physical level, not just the emotional.  I couldn’t think.  I couldn’t use my head.  I couldn’t use my body.  I couldn’t “brain override” the challenge in front of me.  All the buzz about meditation and why we need to do it…is true!  I had to just empty my thoughts, all of them, as if my head was a 3 story house with overstuffed rooms and all the rooms had to be moved out.  My body was out of balance and demanding attention.  I had to sit still and do the work to empty out each room.  Item by item.  Discard. Purge. Clear.  And look again. 

I was determined to get my brain quieted, migraines to cease, back to working out, back to driving and back to real life.  I wanted to be off pain killers and off anxiety medicine.  I wanted to be “back to normal”.

I understand this is a great undertaking.  This is a journey.  My 2016 healing journey.  This brain tumor diagnosis, is here to teach me more than what I know right now.  For this  I am and will be grateful.

My question for you today is,  “How do you handle yourself when life stops you in your tracks? “ How do you move when you get stuck?

My key learning in all this, or reminder, was a coach who reminded me that I am the “Keeper of my own flame”.   By going inward I found my flame for life. From there I am daily led to find the help I need.  What have you done lately to keep your own flame alive?  The soul flame inside you?  This health challenge season will be rich in lessons for me, if I allow it….will you let what you are struggling with expand, open and teach you?

Sending you Love and Health in your healing journey,

Meredith 

mKm