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Listening to the Signals: A Journey Towards Forgiveness and Reconciliation

Updated: May 25

They say things come in threes. This week, I received three powerful signals pointing me toward pain and hurt that I've been avoiding. Each of these moments, seemingly unrelated, formed a pattern that demanded my attention and urged me toward a deeper understanding of myself.

Monday: The Invitation

It started with a last-minute invitation from a friend to watch a film at the local cinema, followed by a men's group discussion. I jumped at the offer, despite it being a much later night than I'm used to. There was a reason for me being there. The film’s depiction of familial conflict struck a nerve, bringing up physical sensations related to how my parents individually dealt with conflict and pain. The main characters’ brutal yet familiar struggle highlighted their lack of vocabulary and practice in navigating difficult emotions.

A poignant embrace between two family members in the film sparked a deep sense of sadness within me, pointing to a broken relationship in my own life. I realised that I've been avoiding addressing my contribution to the rift, instead placing blame on the other person's actions.

Tuesday: Endings and New Beginnings

The second signal came during a group meeting on Tuesday, centered around the theme of "endings and new beginnings," with poetry bookending our conversation. This brought up deep sadness about how my family of origin lacked the tools to work through difficult emotions, never reaching resolution, lacking real communication. It pointed me back to the unresolved relationship, which I've been unconsciously carrying around like an emotional sandbag.

Wednesday: The Double-Edged Sword

The third signal arrived on Wednesday morning. A dear friend, whom I've known since childhood, told me he needed space and set a boundary, creating an intentional fork in the road for his journey without me. This was a double-edged sword - pain and relief.

I spoke with two trusted advisors later that day. Their insights made it clear that the universe was sounding an alarm: if I wanted freedom in this area of my life, difficult actions needed to be taken.

Facing My Patterns

Reflecting on my romantic relationships, I recognised a pattern of abrupt endings and cut-offs, leaving me with discontentment and unresolved feelings. These actions, rooted in my desire to avoid facing my emotions, have prevented me from growing. Instead, they perpetuate behaviours linked to pain and self-pity.

This pattern stems from a childhood experience. At around six to ten years old, I had a girlfriend. Holding hands back then was a big deal, akin to kissing today. One day, after a friend's birthday celebration, I was heartbroken when I saw another boy put his arm around Emma as they drove away. This early heartbreak led me to a flawed formula: “girls can’t be trusted, they’ll break my heart, I’m better off on my own.” This narrative and the behaviours it spawned—silent treatment, pushing away, going it alone—have served me poorly. I've not been able to get my arms around these patterns until I started to do the heavy lifting in the last 7 years or so.

Choosing a New Path

Now, I'm committed to living with intention and being the author of my life, rather than letting my past dictate my behaviours. Taking responsibility for my life and past means embracing and acknowledging what brought me here, while choosing to let go of defence mechanisms that no longer serve me.

When faced with emotional pain, the question "is it true?" helps me sift through the murky soup of my emotions. While past experiences have made certain painful truths seem inevitable, I know that by challenging myself, and trying new ways of being, I can change my future - how I show up and respond to hurt. This is always going to play out in relationships.

I deserve to feel good, to be able to be open and vulnerable, and to love and be loved. This week's lesson landed like a breeze block in my lap: I can either continue feeling sorry for myself and blaming others, or take responsibility for my part in relationships and work through difficult emotions. The answer is clear: I'm choosing to lean into potential conflict with an open heart and the principle of: seeking first to understand before being understood.

Moving Forward with Integrity

I can't control others' pain or their journey, but I can control how I show up in relationships. By committing to being the best version of myself, with love and authenticity, I create better chances for connection with those around me. I must practice non-attachment - the outcome will be what it will be. And, it’s worth aiming high because of how dearly I value relationships. This could be described as the difference between working towards a vision, and acceptance of what is. Accepting things just the way the are, and just the way they are not, is not mutually exclusive to creating a vision of how you would love things to be. This is one of the paradoxical elements of this work: in your minds eye create what you truly want if anything were possible, and, accept the way things are in any given moment.

The tears and hard-to-hold truths of this week have been a blessing. This is the work I'm committed to—a life of freedom, vitality, and love for all. If you're facing similar challenges, know that you're not alone. Embrace the signals, acknowledge the pain, and take the necessary steps toward healing, forgiveness, and reconciliation. The journey may be tough, but the rewards are immeasurable.

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