The world around me was a painter's palette of golds and greens and yellows cast upon the reddish canvas of the evening sun. Shadows lengthened, my stride was joyful as Ellie and I set out on our evening walk accompanied by her indefatigable little white sidekick, Mollie. In the west, the razor-edged back of the Rockies were barely discernible in the evening haze. It was an evening meant for magic.
I love August. The searing heat of day quickly gives way to the relief of evening. As I walked last night, a fresh breeze caressed my cheeks, played with the edges of my hair and stirred the sun splashed prairie grasses that rolled endlessly to the horizon. Ellie, her reddish coat gleaming in the golden light, pranced up ahead, confident in her world, her senses on alert for cheeky gophers popping up along the trail looking for a game of chase. Mollie bounced along behind her, trying to keep up, falling back, catching up, like a yo-yo being re-wound.
It was an evening for flights of fancy. Tiny dragonflies flit amongst the grasses, their bodies in flight in spite of the seeming impossibility of the task. I felt like the little girl, Ofelia, in Pan's Labyrinth, pulled into the womb of magical thinking by a dragonfly like fairy calling me ever deeper and deeper into the myths of my creation.
When I was a little girl, we lived in France. We'd often travel to Paris to visit my mother's family. It was there my uncle ripped away my innocence when I was five. It was there I wrapped myself up in my imagination to keep me safe from the harsh realities of what had happened to me. Like the girl in Pan's Labyrinth, I created a world of wonder within so that I would not have to face the horror of my reality.
It wouldn't be until my eldest daughter turned five that I would unravel the threads that bound my pain in disbelief. The truth would take me by surprise. Rip me from my womb of emotional immaturity and catapult me into the reality of having been abused. After the memories seared through my psyche and the truth stood out in all its glaring ugliness, I would be able to see the signposts leading me to that moment. I would be able to pinpoint the moments in time when the truth had attempted to be revealed but didn't yet have the strength of certitude to stand out amidst my inability to face it. The truth couldn't trust me to acknowledge its gift of freedom and so it waited until one day it could not hold itself back any longer. Like Vesuvius erupting the truth poured out in fiery indignation, burning itself onto the memory bed of my denial, laying itself bare to my scrutiny.
I remember the morning I awoke and felt the tears rushing down my cheeks. The horror of what had happened to me no longer lay curled up within me. It raced through my mind, etched itself upon my thinking like a hand long ago writing words upon a wall that would never be forgotten.
I embrace that truth and love it with all my being. It set me free.
In having lived for 30+ years with its sorrow burrowing into my psyche, getting it out gave me room to breathe freely. Setting it free gave me the space, and time and courage to forgive.
When I was five, I was abused. That act of violence against the innocence of a five year old set in motion a chain of events that I would not be able to understand until the morning of my release from disbelief. In my disbelief I would zealously pursue unsafe avenues and by-ways searching for egress from the pain within me. I would struggle to understand myself, my feelings, my discord. I would hold myself accountable yet feel the yearning of the victimized child within looking for solace, crying out for help -- and I would deny her. I didn't understand why she could not lay quietly in the past. I'd do what ever it took to hold her still and act out my pain in everyday actions that did not make sense to me. In my confusion, I'd chastise myself, denigrate myself, hate myself. I wanted to live in the light. I kept falling into darkness.
When the truth erupted that morning, I was given the gift of freedom to take that first precious step upon the road to healing -- forgiveness.
There were a lot of people I needed to forgive and many from whom I needed forgiveness. Most importantly, I needed to forgive myself.
At five, I could not be responsible for what happened to me. The seed of self-hatred, of self-abuse that was foisted upon me was not mine. But I nurtured it, fed it, gave it the breath of life so that it could keep destroying me. I gave it root.
I didn't know what compelled me to act out. I kept struggling to find my inner balance, my sense of direction in a world I did not understand.
And then I awoke and began the joyful journey into the light of knowing, I am a spiritual being on the journey of her lifetime.
In forgiving myself I do not deny the truth of what happened to me as a child. I acknowledge it and hold those responsible accountable for their actions and inaction. I forgive because to forgive releases me from carrying the burden of pain that held me back. Forgiveness frees me up and gives me space to move into the light. To be in the light, I must acknowledge what I did in subsequent years to push the pain deeper and deeper into my psyche. I must acknowledge where I held myself back from claiming my right to be at centre stage of my own life. Free of denial, I dance in the mystical light of truth that holds me in loving arms and keeps me safe from slipping back into the womb of magical thinking.
Forgiving myself is the gift I give myself so that I can dance with joy and fly fearlessly in the light. It is priceless. It is without recrimination. Without regret. Without self-justification. There are no, 'but I didn't know what I was doing', in self-forgiveness. There is only the reality that regardless of my motivation, I hurt myself and those I love.
Like the tiny gossamer winged creatures flitting through the light creating a sparkling dance that lit my path with the magic of their flight last evening, forgiving myself has been the key to releasing me from the dark of my denial, into the world of my loving reality today.
May you dance in the light of your magnificence and open yourself up to what is real and true in your world today. May you dance upon gossamer wings amongst the forgiving and forgiven.