four stages of forgiveness


Life is timely, isn’t it?

I’ve been reading Women Who Run With the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estés. It’s a book that I think came out in the 90s when I was too young to fully appreciate it but I remember seeing and hearing about it.

So when I saw it in a used bookstore, last year, I grabbed it knowing this was exactly the kind of book I would be interested in. Today I am at the Four Stages of Forgiveness on page 401 and I am struck by how much the stages have coincided with what I went through with Waldorf.

The Stages are as follows: 1) to forego, 2) to forebear, 3) to forget and 4) to forgive. Estes talks about during the first stage how you need to take a vacation from the event. And that is exactly what I did when I moved back to Hawaii. Seemed perfect, home is Hawaii, the quintessential holiday for Japanese and Americans and for a woman who just went through a lot of growing up.

I wanted to escape and I recognized that I needed to be with my mother, people I loved and new start. But this is not the same as running away because my memories were in the things I brought back and still banging about in my heart.

To forebear is to practice patience. And as my issues with Waldorf education and education in general, trust and paranoia resurfaced, I needed to wait. I played peek-a-boo with the past during this time. But I had to wait for the moment when I was ready to let go, wait for my emotions to subside, and wait for new clarity.

I wanted everything to just be over with, I wanted to be strong and move past it. I wanted to feel normal again. Life forced me though to endure when I really didn’t want to. These were messy stages where I ran back and forth in my mind declaring peace and serenity one minute and chaos and war the next.

Forgetting is never really forgetting. Just because you drop a coin in to a well doesn’t mean the coin isn’t there anymore. It’s added to the pool of knowledge. But instead of constantly fishing around for that damn coin and flipping it and looking over it again and again, you simply let the memory settle down and sit.

Talk about a messy stage. I thought I was going insane over the mental movie and projector I was constantly playing. Torture truly is self-induced. If anyone took a look into my room during these finer moments they would see a woman talking to herself. I might as well have been a bag lady collecting shoes and plastic artifacts, rocking back and forth like a retarded monkey or something.

I love Estés quote on the last stage, “forgiveness is an act of creation.” Through the forgetting, patience, and moving around the country, I found my passion, writing. I found books that suddenly had more meat between the thin slices of bread which I devoured with the hunger that comes from a bitten experience.

I saw the world through all my senses. When you’ve clenched and hugged the earth through your sorrow, walking again, stretching again, exploring and breathing again feels so momentously good. To me freedom isn’t a political agenda or a geographical boundary so much as the rapture that comes from letting go of the past.

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