by Diane Linsley
Forgiveness is one of the most misunderstood of all spiritual topics.
Just the word alone - "forgive" - can provoke negative feelings in
people who have been abused. Rest assured that this is not one of
those self-righteous articles designed to make you feel guilty.
Many traumatic experiences involve some sort of betrayal or
abandonment. Narcissistic abuse is one of the most devastating of all experiences. I'll get to that later, but let's start with something easier. "Anyone who moves out of your experience, for any reason, is not a match to the wonderful future that is waiting for you." ~Esther and Jerry Hicks, The Astonishing Power of Emotions
If you truly understand this quote, you can skip the rest of the article. Otherwise, stay tuned :)
People who do a lot of personal growth work often have the experience of friends suddenly vanishing from their life. This can be disconcerting, especially if they don't understand why it happened.
In 2017, three friends left my life. Having three people disappear all at once is a little scary for an introvert who doesn't have a lot of friends to start with. I wondered if I had done something wrong.
I'd had many good experiences with these friends, and I thought that the relationships would last much longer. So I was mystified and curious. I asked my soul to help me understand the situation. My soul told me to go to my bookshelf, pick up a book, and turn to a random page. Here's what I read:
"When souls have natural resonance, they simply appear to each other. When the resonance changes, they disappear. Relationships are always mutually created and dissolved....You can rest assured that if your soul wants someone to appear, it's going to happen....But the reverse is also true: if your soul doesn't need a connection, no amount of positive affirmations will make it happen.
"If the vibration of your field changes, as it might after a spiritual breakthrough, certain people cannot occur in your field anymore, unless they have a matching breakthrough, and they will likely disappear." ~Penney Peirce, Frequency: The Power of Personal Vibration
I thought back over the past year, and I realized that I was no longer the same person I was one year ago. I told my life coach about this realization, and she agreed. I said, "Now I understand why those friends disappeared. I could feel them gradually slipping out of my reality, so I wasn't really surprised. I guess they are no longer a vibrational match. I've changed too much."
I recalled other years in which I made huge leaps in my personal development, and how people then dropped out of my life. This is the risk you take with personal growth. My soul requires that I continue on, even if it means leaving people behind. That doesn't mean that I don't love them, or that they don't love me. There's just a feeling of "It's over, and it's okay."
The people who dropped out this year came into my life three years ago when I needed them most - when I was preparing for my divorce.
They supported me through that period of growth. But now we are going down different paths. So I let them go with deep gratitude and a feeling of awe for how souls come together and separate at just the right time - all based on the Law of Attraction. In The Seven Levels of Intimacy, Matthew Kelly says, "Relationships only make sense in relation to the overall purpose of your life....Every relationship, however formal or casual, long lasting or fleeting, is an opportunity for the people involved to further their essential purpose by becoming the-best-version-of-themselves."
Clinging to people who are trying to leave just creates bad feelings. Esther Hicks says that when you try to keep a relationship going by giving up what you want in order to soothe the other person, all you do is make yourself miserable. Eventually, you'll be so unhappy that you will be the one who wants to leave.
Separation may be inevitable, but suffering is a choice. I learned this lesson at the end of my marriage. Nine months passed between the day I realized that divorce was inevitable and the day I actually called a lawyer and initiated the divorce proceedings.
During those nine months, the pain continued to increase. It wasn't until I developed ulcers, waking up in the middle of the night with horrendous pain, that I realized I was going to die if I didn't let go.
Psychological suffering can be caused by resisting what our souls want us to do. Energetic pain can be caused by the dissonance between two personal vibrations that are not in harmony.
I've become very sensitive to energetic pain since I developed my intuitive abilities. I've also coached other people with this problem. Energy-sensitive people often experience the vibrational dissonance of disharmonious relationships as actual physical pain.
Forgiving Karmic Relationships
Penney Peirce says, "A karmic relationship is automatic and hypnotic at first, then often feels like you're in a tunnel; you can't get out until you emerge at the other end. You chose it, want to do it, but it's not that much fun. When it's over, you shake yourself and say, 'What just happened to me?'"
Contrary to popular opinion, karmic relationships are not some type of punishment. It's more accurate to think of them as karmic rebalancing. Your soul may need a certain experience for its education.
For example, your soul may choose a person with opposite character traits in order to learn something new. This creates a lot of conflict, and you may never understand each other, but you come away a little more balanced. When you realize that you intentionally chose the relationship, there's no blame.
Penney Peirce says, "When the soul is finished, it's finished. There's no accounting for why the amount of time was spent....Some invisible marker point is reached, and one person shifts out of attunement and resonance with the old vibrational pattern....Often, the one who shifted out progresses quickly toward their destiny. The irony is the other person simultaneously made the same decision to move on but doesn't consciously realize it and often feels like a victim."
That sounds familiar. I was persecuted for initiating my divorce, even though it was clear that my ex-husband wanted it, too. After the divorce, my life changed dramatically. My personal growth took off like a rocket, while he was left behind pretending to be a victim. Now, years later, I look at him and still can't believe I was married to him. We have no common ground, except for the children.
An Enlightening Dream
When I was going through the divorce, I had a dream in which I was wandering through a swamp. My future self (a slightly older woman) was walking in front of me, and my past self (a young girl) was walking behind me.
I became lucid during the swamp scene, and I asked my future self to get us out of there. We left the swamp, and we came to a fork in the road. On the right side was a long, meandering path along a beach. It would take a long time to get to our destination if we went that route, but it would be easy. Or we could take a hard and fast shortcut. We chose the shortcut.
My future self led me up a steep mountain. It was an exhausting climb. When we came to the top, we entered a dark tunnel. I was frightened, and I questioned her. She said, "This is the fastest way to get to where we are going. Don't stop. Just keep running, and hold on tight!"
I grabbed her hand, and I held fast to the hand of the little girl behind me. Then we started running through the dark tunnel. As we ran, we passed a closed door on one side. I could see light through the cracks in the doorway, and I heard the voices of people on the other side. I wanted to join the party, but we couldn't stop. We had to keep running through the dark tunnel. I could barely see a light at the end of the tunnel, which gave me hope.
After this dream, I felt more courageous about moving forward. I knew that I could trust my future self (or my soul), even though I was scared. Courage isn't a lack of fear. It's doing what you have to do, in spite of the fear. I also knew that I needed to take care of my past self (my Inner Child).
Forgiving Narcissistic Abuse
The divorce was difficult because I was struggling with feelings of guilt that were keeping me frozen in confusion. But it wasn't the kind of guilt that a person feels when they've done something wrong. I later learned that my guilt was actually disowned resentment.
This type of guilt is common in childhood abuse when the parents tell the child that he is responsible for "making them" abuse him. The child is not allowed to talk back or express anger. If he slips up and expresses his feelings, he is told that he is bad for not forgiving. This happened to me repeatedly throughout my life. Narcissists are very skilled at making victims feel guilty.
How do you forgive a narcissist?
Early in my recovery, I came across an article that told victims to stop trying to forgive the abuser! That was very helpful. I learned to focus on healing myself, rather than wasting energy trying to force myself to forgive, which just heaped guilt on top of low self-esteem.
Many people have the incorrect belief that you have to forgive in order to be a good person. The idea of forgiving frightens abuse victims as long as they still feel vulnerable to future abuse.
In my experience, I simply woke up one day (several years later), and everyone was forgiven - not just the abusers or select people that I'd chosen to forgive, but everyone I'd ever known - all at once.
This actually had nothing to do with anyone outside of me. It was a shift in my energy. I had come to a place of peace inside myself.
Forgiveness and Self-Compassion
This shift was the result of working for a long time on self-compassion. You cannot love yourself and hate others. The more I loved myself, the less fearful I became. I stopped worrying that another narcissist was going to show up. I had worked hard on overcoming codependency and developing assertiveness and boundaries.
Until you have healed enough to let go of fear, trying to forgive feels like denying your own reality. Faking forgiveness, which comes from shaming ourselves or allowing others to induce guilt trips by "shoulding" on us ("You should forgive"), just adds salt to the wounds.
It may also short-circuit our personal growth. When we rationalize ourselves into fake forgiveness by saying, "I've already forgiven and forgotten," we stop doing the spiritual work that is necessary for true healing and transcendence. This is spiritual bypassing. It's better to feel the pain and keep on working.
Forgiveness happens automatically when we understand people, starting with ourselves. We must face our grief and have compassion for our weaknesses. Fake forgiveness is like smiling when you are really sad or angry. It's not in integrity. Personal growth requires a lot of integrity.
Self-forgiveness naturally extends to other people because we are all interconnected. Don't worry about the "others." When you love one person very deeply - yourself - you will automatically love everyone.
A Shift in Perspective
True forgiveness is a joyful feeling. It feels like total liberation. It's so joyful that it makes you want to write a letter to the other person and thank them for the role they played in your life. You are grateful for the lessons you learned - no matter how painful they were - even if you still have the scars.
Okay, let's admit it. We're not quite there yet :) Ram Dass said, "If you think you are enlightened, go and spend a week with your parents." It's easy to forgive from a distance, which is why the first step to recovering from narcissistic abuse is to go "no contact." The brain can't recover when it's freaking out.
For me, forgiveness is almost synonymous with understanding. Because I've had so many people to forgive, I've spent a lot of time learning about human development. It's easier to forgive someone when I understand their level of cognitive development. Every level of development is a different perspective, and every person is "right" from their own perspective. One of my favorite movies is Inception. Fischer was able to forgive when he experienced a shift in perspective that changed his mind about what his father's dying words meant ("I was disappointed").
We'll never know what his father really meant, and it doesn't matter. When Fischer chose a different way of interpreting his father's last words, it changed everything.
My favorite quote from the movie is, "I think positive emotion trumps negative emotion every time. We all yearn for reconciliation, for catharsis." ~Cobb
One of my biggest shifts happened when I realized that all the abusers were younger souls, and they all had developmental blocks. Whether or not this is objectively true is irrelevant. This is how I perceive them. They appear to me as children, and I have compassion for them.
Forgiveness as a Spiritual Experience
Like all true spiritual experiences, forgiveness is not something that you can force to happen. It is grace. There's no point in feeling guilty if it hasn't happened yet.
Ken Wilber says, "Enlightenment is an accident. But meditation makes you more accident-prone." So it's time to stop guilt-tripping ourselves and others for not forgiving. That's like getting mad at people for not being enlightened - or expecting children to act like adults.
Your longing to be One is your spiritual desire, is your very essential, religious nature. It is just that you are focusing yourself on the wrong spot.
Your lover is only an excuse. Let your lover be just an experience of a greater love - the love for the whole existence.
Let your longing be a search of your own inner being; there, the meeting is already happening, there, we are already One.
There, nobody has ever separated.
The longing is perfectly right; only the object of longing is not right. That is creating the suffering and the hell. Just change the object, and your life becomes a paradise.
Separation is the illusion that creates suffering. You can never really leave anyone, and no one can ever abandon you. When you have this understanding, there is nothing to fear and nothing to forgive.
Here's an article from 16 Personalities that explains why some personality types find it easier to forgive. If you don't know your personality type, you can take a free test. Regardless of your natural tendencies, you can transcend your personality through spiritual practice. Here's a Loving Kindness meditation.
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