Category Archives: forgiveness

March 1st, Making it Through

Mom and Me

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March 1st is special. Making it here means that I have–one again–made it through the hardest part of the year, winter. Since Mamaw passed away in 1989, I’ve dreaded Christmas and, since living in Alaska, I’ve struggled with winter. November through February is a tough time. “Just hang in there till March 1st,” I tell myself every year. Well, I made it! Again! March 1st! Here we are!

As good as I am at connecting things, it only struck me just today that my special day for making it through the dark period is also my Mom’s birthday. Since she passed away in 2003, I haven’t done much to acknowledge her birthday. March 1st has meant that spring with all the sunshine, warmth, and goodness is upon me. It’s my day of celebration for making it through the tough time.

Today, as I was looking for an old photo to go with a story I’m working on, I came across a birthday card from Mom. The card was from 1989, a front runner for Hardest Year of My Life. Mamaw (Mom’s mom) had suddenly passed away earlier that year and things at home were precarious, at best. I was in shock after Mamaw passed and there was no solace to be found anywhere especially at home. Seeing 1989 on the card brought up all the feelings of emptiness, worthlessness, and heart-being-ripped-out pain that I was feeling. 1989 was a bad, bad year.

Before finding this card today, I was waiting for a story to come to me, something to help me convey how thankful I am to have not only survived all the difficult things I’ve gone through, but how I am a better person for having experienced all those things. We don’t grow without struggle. This is something I didn’t understand until these past few years as I’ve chosen to go outside my comfort zone to get to the extraordinary things I knew were waiting for me. Growing up, I didn’t have a choice, but I do now. I could have played it safe and stayed put in an easy place, but that wouldn’t have been my life. It would have been me living someone else’s life. My life has afforded me opportunities to forgive big stuff and to learn what happens when I pray for my eyes to be taken from worthless things. It’s so good to be here. I’m me, the real me! I’m not someone who wants the white picket fence or happily ever after. I want realness, risks, and raw truth telling. I want the courage to say, “God bless you, but kindly get the f*** out of my way” to anyone trying to tell me I can’t live my dreams. Even though I still have work to do, I am living my dreams, basking in the warmth, and never dimming my light. I’m finally loving myself and I have such amazing love in my life.

I read mom’s message again as it fully reaches me for the first time today. She tells me that my struggles will make me into the person I have become. Here’s what she said:

7/30/89

Dear Dana,
I’m sitting here thinking how our lives have been changed during this past year. I’m sorry that your home life has not been the security and strength that is so necessary for a good foundation in life, but I know with your determination and intelligence that this will not be a stumbling block for you but a step forward in your endeavor for your goals.
Always reach for your goals, don’t look back, go forward and when you reach that mountain top be proud of your accomplishments. I know you will make it. Always remember that no matter what happens in any ares of our lives that I love you very, very much. You have been a blessing to me and I am so proud of you. Keep up the good work. Always keep God first in your life, remember He is always there for you and He will and can carry you thru all phases of your life if you will just let Him. Happy Birthday, my sweet Dana. I hope this is a wonderful year for you. With all of my love, Mom

Happy Birthday, Mom! I made it through! And this is going to be my best year yet!

_______________________
If you are struggling, it sucks! I’m not gonna sugar coat it. It is painful. I’m so sorry you’re going through all of this. Please also keep in mind that something good is on the other side. You will make it through. Peace and love to you, Dana

I am sorry, I love you, forgive me, thank you

I am sorry, I love you, forgive me, thank you

I am sorry, I love you, forgive me, thank you

“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.