“Forgive, forgive, forgive, Dana,” Graciela would say while gently pressing her fist against her heart. As I was choking back tears, exhausted from the storm inside of me, Graciela would repeat it over and over again. Telling me her story of forgiveness, my Colombian angel’s eyes filled with love. The words she spoke in her thick, soothing accent were honey on my wounds. As Graciela held a safe place for me, I performed my hurt, pain, fear show detailing all of the uncertainty, unknowns arising out of my sudden life change, my move to be with my now husband, Gary. I was at Graciela’s home, sitting across from her, looking for answers to figure out if I would batten down the hatches or run away. Being uprooted was making me come undone, or I thought. I had no idea that the hurricane stirring in me had little to do with my move and everything to do with the fact that I had not forgiven my mom.
I sat listening to Graciela and cried hard. It was full bore ugly crying. She found something for me to cry into as I ran out of the tissues that I had packed for myself. There were so many tears. As I sat across from Graciela, the tears streaming down were not as much for the little girl Dana morning the loss of what she, I, never felt from Mom. I cried most of those tears years ago as I was preparing for and going through EMDR therapy. My former partner, David, did an incredible job of holding a safe place for as I morned the loss of a childhood that never was. The tears I was shedding in front of Graciela were the start of me finally letting go of the resentment and bitterness that I harbored for my mom. Graciela’s “forgive, forgive, forgive” was starting to get through.
Seeing Graciela’s bright eyes and being around her light encouraged me to forgive. I was fortunate to see Graciela many times, often at her daughter’s home where I was staying. One day, Graciela gave me a card that read “LO SIENTO, TE AMO, PERDONAME, GRACIAS” on the front and “I AM SORRY, I LOVE YOU, FORGIVE ME, THANK YOU” on the back. She told me to keep reading it over and over. She said it would help me. During especially difficult times, when I felt powerless over the storm inside of me, I would pray, asking God for help, pull out Graciela’s card, and repeat, “I am sorry, I love you, forgive me, thank you.” Sometimes I would say it to myself and sometimes to Mom. I’ve kept the card close since Graciela gave it to me last fall and I often hear her voice, “Forgive, forgive, forgive, Dana.”
I was only a few months ago, soon after Gary and I got married, that I felt the burden of unforgiveness lift. It was a powerful summer day when I told Gary that I felt as though I had forgiven my mom. Amazing things started happening right after I embraced my new state of consciousness. By forgiving Mom, I was able to shed an old version of myself and, with the newness, extraordinary gifts have arrived. The release of the resentment and bitterness has calmed the storm and allowed space for a previously unimaginable Love. I am opening more and more each day as the dust settles and I go deeper to clean out other, often old, areas of my life. I look for what I still need to forgive and let go. As I do, I feel lighter, lifted above all the years of the old me. This new version of me looks forward to continuing the work of cleaning out and letting go. Lighter and lighter, without all of the old burdens, I have a new perspective. Up here, the air is clean and clear. It’s possible to breathe easy, now.
Thank you, Graciela, for sharing your love, your story with me. I am forever changed.