This week’s essay comes to us from a TED* reader who recently shared her “TED* Holiday Gift” with us. This is her story.
Several years ago David shared a powerful quote with me that literally changed my life. I had already read The Power of TED* and recognized that I had spent years living inside the toxic roles of the DDT or Dreaded Drama Triangle™ and I was working diligently every hour of every day to shift my orientation from that of Victim to that of Creator…but I kept stumbling.
Without too much elaboration I will share that I came from a “movie of the week” childhood where violence and emotional abuse were commonplace. My stumbling block was in the idea of forgiveness. I simply couldn’t let go of the past and move on because I couldn’t forgive and this kept me firmly rooted in the DDT. I felt that forgiveness meant condoning, even tacitly approving, the actions that had terrorized my life for so many years and I just couldn’t do it. I shared this dilemma with David, and he in turn shared some wisdom that changed my life.
“Forgiveness”, he said, “does not mean approving. Rather, it means giving up the hope of a better past.” Wow. Talk about simple. I didn’t have to be okay with my parents’ behavior or how they raised me. Instead I had to simply accept that the past happened and move on. It was really about forgiving myself for letting the past have so much power over my present. Once I let the past be exactly that…PAST, I was able to recognize the gifts of inner strength and compassion for others that were a result of my life experience.
Flash forward to my life now. I have been married to a wonderful man for many years and we have two beautiful children together. I am a fabulous mother, in part because I know what I had always wished for from my own mother, and I strive to be that for my children. Even though we are very happy, there has always been a missing piece. You see, my husband also has two children from a previous marriage from whom he has been estranged for many years. Recent events in their lives made them wish to reconnect with him and also with me. After many years of silence, we were all under the same roof and trying to find the way to make a fresh start.
Twenty years of silence ended with heartfelt embraces and a family reunited.
No matter how much time has passed and how much hurt has transpired, it’s never too late for a fresh start. We are living proof.
Where in 2015 are you willing to forgive yourself or others, and make a fresh start?