Certain blog posts seep and permeate into the bloodstream, slow, yet constant; pulsates and awakens one’s thoughts. The more read, the deeper understanding and one begins to emerge a stronger person, as the mere connection of language heals on its own.
This would be one of those posts.
Triggers are brought to life when least expected and anxiety will return. Though I’ve forgiven myself for actions of my past, those triggers catapult me back into the rabbit hole. Upon ending a most painful time earlier this year, I came across these beautiful words from Louise Gallagher. Like a soothing breeze of warm air, her language calmed and set free the fear of forgiving myself I let go of, only for it to return with darting triggers.
Though Louise’s story, of course, differs from mine, forgiveness radiates in the form of healing only when we choose.
“Forgiving myself was more difficult. I wanted to hold myself pinioned to the sword of self-blame. I wanted to chastise myself. Berate myself. Condemn myself for having been a fool, for having hurt my daughters so much. But, to do so would have meant I did not believe myself worthy of my daughters’ forgiveness. By telling myself I would never forgive myself, yet asking them to forgive me, I was withholding from myself the very thing I wanted to receive.
I forgave myself so that I could be free
And so, I forgave myself. I didn’t qualify my forgiveness. I didn’t define it or limit it to specific events. I simply forgave myself.
I cannot give what I do not have. I cannot receive what I am not willing to give. To receive forgiveness, I must be willing to ask for it, and to give it.
I cannot change the past. I can forgive it.”
When my daughter graduated community college in 2014, I took it upon myself to attend, alone. The ceremony took place on campus, open for all to attend. Sheepishly I went, afraid to be seen by her, her dad, her sister. The shame I had been facing was still very much at the surface and I was in no shape to stand too tall. Yet that’s exactly what I did that day. Somehow I made my way up to the front and saw my girl walk. Hearing her name called, all of it, all my fear subsided for that moment and I remembered I was her mother. Pride made way in the form of tears for the person she was becoming, not for what I was missing. She was, after all, her own person, not merely my daughter.
This past May, she graduated from university. I had written her, my intention one of courtesy, as I didn’t want to alarm her if she were to see me. “It’s your day and I will be there celebrating your joy. I would never approach her unless you felt comfortable.” The day before I was to leave, she emailed me, clearly stating she didn’t want me to attend. Respecting her wishes, I cancelled my trip and did not attend.
She is my daughter. I am her mother. That, my friends, is THE trigger. A graduation, a birthday, a holiday, a wedding or memorial – all triggers of family. The sentiments rise with each upcoming event and those feelings are impossible to ignore. Triggers awakened: four years of distance, four years of college, four years of growth, learning, life and love. As grown up as I imagine her to be, so am I. I need not connect with her to know how much I love her. No reminders needed. I only want to love her. If those feelings are not reciprocated, that is to be. No guilt, shame for her to feel. Her world was rocked to the core. She has experienced her own anguish and pain as I have. Though she may not recognize, this is where we connect the most.
Forgiveness is for oneself, not the other. There is no self-healing until one can forgive. I have forgiven myself, unleashing much of the pain I carried. Pain is always close by. Triggers will come and go. It’s what I choose to do with them that determines my own peace.
How do you cope with triggers in your own life? What has helped or hurt your heart?
Discuss amongst yourselves. 🙂
We’ll find each other soon. ❤