Forgive Yourself. Improve Your Relationships.

This post is part of my Parenting Calmly series written by guests to offer a variety of experiences and ideas. We want to bring encouragement, hope and inspiration as parents learn to let go of harmful practices and embrace helpful ones. How can you strengthen the relationship with your child in a way that brings laughter, love and ease to your family? Let’s find out together.

Please welcome writer, Gwynn Raimondi.

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The practice of forgiveness is our most important contribution to the healing of the world.

-Marianne Williamson

 

Twinkle lights glowing in our family and living rooms. Candles at the dining table. Softness blooming out of the lights in our home, gently revealing what each space holds.

Creek gently babbling. Wind chimes tinkling. Sounds quietly entering my senses.

Mellow breeze kissing my face. Supple cotton touching my skin. Caressing touches opening possibilities.

I entered a world of Softness, surrounding myself with soft sights, sounds and feelings. This exterior softness represents the inner softness seeking out space in my body, my heart, my relationships, my being.

As I entered into this shift, the Hardness made itself clearly known. It came as resistance, to not see the world from the eyes of Others. It came as snapping at my husband and daughter over trivial things. It came as judgement of others and how they are living their lives.

Yes, others did hurtful things. Yes, others said unkind words. Yes, I’ve been misunderstood. Yes, there have been times I have been abandoned and unloved, shamed and ridiculed.

I held onto those hurts, the unkindness, the misunderstandings, using them as armor, protecting myself from future pain, or so I thought. I would mouth the words of forgiveness, giving platitudes to make nice, while clinging to pain, and turning hard, cynical, hurtful and unkind myself. I would put on a mask to model the behaviors I wanted my child to grow into, the ones I also desperately wanted to grow into myself, but those behaviors weren’t coming from my being, my core; they were not an authentic expression of my heart at the time.

I’ve been strong and tough. I’ve scoffed and ridiculed. I stood behind my brick wall and refused to let anyone in, not even my husband, not even my child.

It was lonely.

The loneliness only added to the hardness. I would repel against the softness of others, while simultaneously cracking at the seams, aching for their gentle vulnerability to be a part of me and my way of being in the world.

Aching for that connection to others, to my world, to my little family.

 

I’m not sure what the first event was to cause this shift inside me to start, I do know however, the actual cause of the shift is not relevant. What is relevant is that it began. Softness wanting to manifest within me so I could express it out into the world. So I embraced this word, explored what it means to me.

I shook up my routines and the stagnancy that had found its way into my life, experimented with new ways to move my body, became curious about this pain or that weakness in my muscles. I moved my body into tree pose for the first time in years and felt a sense of coming home. I sought balance in half-moon pose, my body revolting, claiming it’s not strong enough or graceful enough and yet my heart and mind kept breathing, kept shifting, building strength and finding grace.

I found soft places in our home to replenish and relax, kept these spaces soft, sacred. I removed the clutter from our physical space, allowing clutter to leave my mind, my heart. Feeling in my whole being a settling, a calming, a clearing as the shelves were cleared, cleaned and organized.

I wrote the words Soft, Love and Gentle on my arm as reminders of the shifting. I would see the words throughout the day, take in a slow, deep breath and reach out to my child, my husband or a friend to connect. I would give hugs and kisses and say “I love you” without promptings, just to share with those important people how much they do mean to me. I would bite back shaming or blaming comments, and focus on my breath, allowing the potentially hurtful moment to move into a moment of peace, of joy.

All this exterior work was both simple and challenging. Through all this shifting and changing, my breath settled, my muscles and mind released and yet the tears did not flow, there was still a hardness in my heart.

While the hardness was still there, I felt it starting to release: the a-ha! moments of what this muscle pain was telling me I was still holding on to; adding another person to my Loving Kindness meditations. Slowly and quietly the tears would flow as I laid on my mat, breathing in and out loving thoughts to this person or that group. Insights coming foreword, my ability to find compassion for where these others are in the world.

This forgiveness and compassion flowing out of me towards all these others, sending out love and empathy; understanding that we are all on a journey and sometimes perceived intents are only a perception and not a reality.

The gentle tears flowed and my heart softened and yet there was this hardness still in the center of my chest. A hardness I could not see into.

Until one day it became clear. Yes, forgiving all those others and the hurts that were built into my heart and body from their actions and words was important, vital to my own growth and journey into softness, into living the life I wanted, and yet there was one person who I needed to forgive, who deserved my compassion so deeply. I had been unable to see her, to hear her, to give her the love and empathy I so willingly gave others.

I breathed in this truth with a gasp.

Me.

It was time to forgive myself for the hurts and unkindness I sent towards me, my body, my mind.

 

There was now this space opened for feeling where before there was numbing, bottling, clenching, tightening and hardening.

The softness found the cracks in my armor. There are always cracks in our armor, often we find ways to mend those cracks, adding spackle and a fresh coat of paint so we believe we look shiny and sane on the outside, that armor holding in all the chaos that swirls within us. More cracks appear and more spackle and paint is applied and we grow tired and weary from the work of keeping up appearances.

Inevitably, the chaos seeps out, in one form or another. It surprises us, takes us off guard and leaves us feeling shame at our actions or words. We blame the cracks, we blame the armor and we find ways to build a stronger suit.

This was how it went for me until the Softness came. By embracing this simple word, I was able to slow down my repair of the cracks, allowing whole chunks of the armor to start to dangle, to eventually fall off. One day I found myself without my armor, wrapped in a soft robe, feeling the softness caress my skin, whisper in my ears and glow in front of my eyes.

My heart opened wider for the beautiful people in my life: my loved ones, friends, my husband and our daughter. I was finding more patience and calm. The shaming that would spew out of my mouth began to slow and then stopped almost all together. I found ways to connect with my daughter and my husband: I would listen to their heartbeats, I would let them listen to mine; I would turn off my phone and my laptop and sit down and play and listen. I started to release my need to “fix it,” to have a solution and response, not really hearing what the other was saying. The more I softened and sank into the beautiful moments of my life, I noticed a softening in my daughter and my husband, a gentleness towards each other, towards me and themselves started to grow. More laughter came, more peace.

I found sweet forgiveness for others, yes; it was an important part of the journey. More importantly I found sweet forgiveness for myself, giving myself healing and opening the space for more joy and connection within me and in my world.

 

me and her windGwynn Raimondi is a writer, mama, wife and relationship and mindfulness coach. Gwynn utilizes mindfulness practice mixed with attachment theory and brain science to guide her clients to deeper connections with themselves, their families and their worlds. You can follow Gwynn’s blog and connect with her on facebook.

Her newest program, Mindful Mantras, a free, year-long journey to bring more peace, calm and focus into your days, began December 29th, however you can sign up and begin at anytime during 2014. Information and registration.

Gwynn will also be offering Grounding in Grace, a 30-day journey to find your center and to ground your body, mind and Soul, will begin in February. Information and registration.

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