I’ve had my heart broken.
Some days the heartbreak was so deep, so thorough, I didn’t think it was possible to survive. If it were possible to will yourself to stop breathing, there were nights when I would have. I have two sweet, beautiful, smart children whom I adore, Sweetness and the Genius. Knowing how much they needed their mama kept me going, putting one step in front of another.
More times than I can count, I told anyone who would listen (even myself), that I had to forgive the Heartbreaker, not for him but for our children, and myself. For the longest time, I just couldn’t figure out how to do that, though. It’s a pretty debilitating feeling knowing anger and bitterness are nibbling away at your soul.
Eventually, as part of my journey toward balance, I made peace with my painful past. Little by little, I let go of the hurt. I won’t tell you it was easy, or quick. But I promise it’s worth the effort. Anger and bitterness don’t just destroy you – they destroy everyone around you and keep you from living the life you were meant to live. Here are some of the things I learned in my journey of forgiveness.
1. I discovered that forgiveness is a choice.
“Forgiveness is not an emotion, it is a decision.” Randall Worley
Everyone likes having choices. Sometimes we don’t like admitting we have choices, because that puts responsibility for our pain on ourselves. Forgiveness is a choice, just as surely as anger or bitterness. I am not saying it’s my fault the Heartbreaker hurt me. He is responsible for his actions, and only he and I need to know what those actions were. And it is my choice to hang on to the anger, pain and bitterness caused by his actions or to let them go. It took a long time, but eventually I worked on visualizing letting go of each hurt, each action – like plucking petals from a daisy like we did as a child. Instead of saying he loves me, he loves me not, as I pulled each petal like I would have as a child, I repeated I forgive him, I forgive myself, I forgive him, I forgive myself.
2. I created affirmations and repeated them until they came true.
I am peace, love and freedom.
My ex and I get along great and our divorce is almost final.
I love having an affirmation! Those are two of my favorites. I repeat them in my mind several times a day. I write them on post-it notes and tape them to my computer. I write them on my bathroom mirror.
When anyone asked me how my ex and I were getting along, or how the divorce was coming along, my standard answer was my affirmation, “My ex and I get along great and our divorce is almost final.” You want to know the most amazing thing? The more I said it, the truer the words became. Until eventually, the Heartbreaker and I did get along great. And then, about a year later, our divorce was final. Today, we speak on the phone a few times a month, usually to coordinate something regarding our children, Sweetness and the Genius. But sometimes, we just talk.
Your affirmation should be something meaningful to you. It can be a Bible verse – there are many great Bible verses about forgiveness, like Ephesians 4:31-32. It can be a mantra or a prayer. It can be something that makes no sense to anyone but you.
3. I realized feelings follow actions.
“Forgiveness is a funny thing. It warms the heart and cools the sting.” William Arthur Ward
As I repeated my affirmations, a funny thing happened. I acted differently toward the Heartbreaker. It became a little easier to be pleasant when I saw him, or when we spoke on the telephone. Some days, I think he thought that meant we could get back together, but forgiveness doesn’t mean you have to put yourself back into a position to receive future hurt. It means you are willing to let go of the old hurts.
4. I found my place of peace.
“Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” Mark 6:31b
The yoga studio was my refuge. It was the place where I didn’t have to be strong, didn’t have to keep up my game face for my children, employees or family. I worked my way through many asanas with tears streaming down my cheeks. Sometimes, I spent more of the class in child’s pose than I spent doing asanas. I prayed. I repeated my affirmations. I recited Bible verses in my mind. I thought a lot. I released emotions that were locked in my muscles: anger, sadness, loneliness.
Because I had a place of peace where I could let my guard down, I was able to keep up my game face around Sweetness and the Genius. Find somewhere you will be wrapped in love, where there is no judgment, no expectations, and where you can let your guard down. It may be a yoga studio, or a church or temple. It may be a running track, the beach or a nature preserve. It doesn’t matter where it is. The only thing that matters is that you have that place of peace.
5. I learned forgiveness is not my job, it’s God’s job.
“Holding resentment is like eating poison and waiting for the other person to keel over.” Unknown
No matter how much you want to get on with your life, sometimes there just aren’t enough affirmations in the world to get you through the day! The pain is too fresh, the cuts are too deep, the heart is just too fractured. I remember talking on the phone, walking home from downtown, telling my friend, Denise, “I know I need to forgive him. For our children. For myself. But I don’t know how.” Denise had just finished preparing to speak at a ladies’ retreat, and she shared something with me that changed my life.
She told me forgiveness isn’t my job, it is God’s job. My job is to maintain my relationship with God. God’s job is to deal with the Heartbreaker. On those days when things were bad, really bad, I’d go for a walk or a run, aim my gaze toward heaven, and pour out my heart. I love you, God. I am your child. Please take him and deal with him, because I cannot. It’s amazing what a couple of miles in prayer can accomplish.
“Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself.” Suzanne Somers
Forgiveness isn’t simple or easy. The people who hurt you don’t always stop doing the things that break your heart. Forgive them anyway. Do it for yourself Do it for your children. Just do it.
Question: Have you ever had your heart broken? Have you forgiven your heartbreaker? How did you do it?