Forgive Your Family, Liberate Your Soul.
As we process the wounds from the past, the idea of forgiveness seems daunting.
The word itself is not helpful — it is loaded, tinted with religious and moralistic associations, and unhelpfully vague when it comes to the process itself.
To move on means coming to terms with the fact that our family has let us down, wounded us, abandoned or betrayed us, so we are no longer held back from the residue of our trauma.
It means not letting our past relational wounds spill over to our present-day lives:
Not projecting past wounds and trauma onto our partners.
Not letting our rage out on those we love.
Relating to the world with healthy assertiveness rather than fears and defensiveness.
Loosening the grip of internalized shame, low self- esteem, addictions and compulsions.
Putting a stop to abusive relationships.
But forgiving is not forgetting.
Forgetting is the antidote to true forgiving. By burying our anger, our story and our true feelings, by prematurely moving into fake forgiveness, by drowning our truths to protect others, by letting go of our boundaries for surface harmony, we are bypassing an essential step in our attainment of true freedom.
Releasing starts with knowing our story, even when it means staring daringly at the cruelty, dysfunctions and limitations of those who have hurt us.
However painfully, we see it clearly.
We see how, unlike the superman or superwoman our childlike-self had wanted our parents to be, they are wounded and limited humans.
They have acted out of their insecurities, projections, insecurities, trauma and wounds, and those acts have wounded us.
They did not understand our intensity and said hurtful words that make us shrink.
They felt threatened by what we saw and said, and tried to stifle our voice.
We were used to compensating for their un-lived lives.
We had become the container for the anxiety that they could not bear.
Rather than deleting, bypassing, forgetting or excusing the awfulness of it all, we see that our painful memories sit alongside all the happy moments, peace, and joy that we do have in life, and one does not negate the other.
In the end, we think not of elimination of our past hurt, but of integrating our story as a part of us.
This is a process of expansion, rather than contraction — we are expanding our capacity to hold paradoxes and opposites, rather than tightening to resist life.
We widen our circle of love, without shrinking into the position of a scared animal.
Once we have released our resentment, we can move through life with a sense of lightness and ease.
When something causes hurt now, we can hold both compassion for self and others in our heart, and we can stand up for ourselves without being aggressive to others.
When we again become confronted with our parents’ dysfunctions, we might be able to hold both their limitations and their love for us.
When people repeatedly let us down, we remember that we are no longer a helpless child, and could choose to take assertive actions, or walk away.
Rather than reacting, we patiently wait for our emotional wheel to turn, for the bad to become good, for the dawn after dusk.
We align with the narrative of a Phoenix rising from the fire, a heroic journey of a wounded soul rising to the occasion.
While in an ideal world we could all release past hurt as we could do with a hot air balloon, the reality gives a much more complex picture. It is multi-layered — three steps forward, two steps back. But I can guarantee you, the liberation and peace you will feel on the other side after this not-so-easy journey makes it all worthwhile.
Imi Lo is a psychotherapist, art therapist, coach, and author of the book Emotional Intensity and Sensitivity. Her mission is to inspire intense, sensitive and gifted individuals to rise from being the ‘misfits’ to being the leaders of the world. Leaving home at a young age, Imi has lived and worked in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Australia, the USA and the UK. She has been a suicide counselor, social worker, artist, mindfulness teacher, Yoga instructor, holistic healer, art therapist, psychotherapy trainer, and lecturer. She has also enjoyed an art model career, during which she toured around the world. Her work reflects her passion for the emotional and existential themes that connect people. She founded Eggshell Therapy and Coaching, where she works with intense people around the world. She also owns over a thousand Japanese comics, and eats broccoli every day.