I’m now on my 47th day of being comfort eating free, which is an amazing achievement for me. It’s truly wonderful to know that I’m able to feel so much freedom on days when it comes easily – having more focus and space for other things in my life.
It’s also so good, however difficult, to confront my demons on days where all I want to do is eat to bury the pain I feel. It’s on these dark days that I experience exponential growth, confronting the pain and making leaps and bounds forward in this new life of courage, truth and love.
To be honest, dear friends, these past few days have been tricky with moments where I wanted nothing more than to turn to food for comfort. Instead I have turned to some close friends to share my struggles and ask for their support and love.
I’m so thankful for these people who have shown me compassion, believed in me when I had no strength to believe in myself anymore and carried me through the darkest moments by reminding me to have compassion, show myself love and give myself a break. They’ve also reminded me that my journey isn’t about perfection – indeed, in my personal manifesto are the words ‘perfect is overrated’ – and so it’s ok to stumble. It doesn’t take away any of the victories I’ve had to date.
But anyway, I digress! This post is meant to be about my journey of forgiveness. It’s linked to my recent experiences as, in moments of crisis, I’ve realised that I’m still held back by the hurt and pain of past relationships. I was in the kitchen yesterday, opening the doors of my cupboard and instead of reaching in for some food, I let the emotions I was feeling wash over me – feelings of hurt and sadness. On my kitchen table was the ‘positive psychology for dummies‘ book I recently purchased and I flicked through it for a moment to find a way of coping with my pain. I opened the book randomly to a page about letting go of old baggage and forgiving people in your past. The author suggested writing letters to people who have hurt you and sending them, or not, as a way of exploring what happened and finally forgiving them for what they did.
I did this last night and this morning for two people who have profoundly impacted my life through their words or actions and found tremendous freedom in this activity. It brought me a new perspective of past situations and helped me to let go of feelings that have haunted me for so long. I thought I would share one of them with you in hope that this practice might inspire you to take some steps of forgiveness to find greater peace in your life:
It’s Amy here. We went to school together. This letter has been a long time coming for me and although I haven’t thought of you over the past years, I am aware that our relationship – if you can call it that – has deeply impacted my life and I need some closure to finally turn this page in my life.
The way you treated me at school hurt me so deeply and has impacted my life so greatly. I was different to the other people at school – emotionally open, creatively different, keen to learn – and your vocal dislike of me hurt me to my core. I have struggled to love myself up until recently and I think this is partly linked to the echoes in my head of being hated by others, which confirmed the validity of my self-hatred.
I know in truth that you had your own struggles – not being shown enough love in your life, trying to find your place in the world and feeling scared, insecurities about yourself – the words spoken to me really being a reflection of what you felt about yourself.
I also know I had my part to play in carrying this burden for so long. I remember in sixth form on a netball trip you said to me “I didn’t like you much in school” and instead of opening myself up to have a heartfelt conversation, ask you why it was, tell you my feelings and extend you my forgiveness, I put up a wall around myself, which I’m only just dismantling and, full of self-pride, said “I didn’t notice”. It was a lie to myself and to you. Perhaps this was your way of reaching out, your white flag of peace and I snubbed it in favour of appearing ‘ok’ to the world in spite of my pain and hurt.
It has been so long now – 16 years – and I want to tell you that I forgive you. In doing so, I forgive myself for the self-hatred and hurtful words I’ve spoken to myself. I acknowledge the part I had in carrying this pain for so long and I set myself free. I let the experience go. I also ask that you forgive me for not having opened up on that netball trip and for the feelings of shame or guilt that perhaps you’ve been carrying from my lack of forgiveness.
I set you free, I forgive you and hold no anger or grudge or ill will toward you. I wish you well in your life.
These words make me tear up when I read them with such gratitude for the weight it lifts from my shoulders. This exercise has given me such feelings of peace and perspective. It takes me away from feeling like a victim and instead reminds me that I have also made choices that contributed to the situation.
This letter also brings me pride in who I am, emotionally open, creatively different, keen to learn. Those things that made me feel shameful when I was younger are actually areas of my life that I want to celebrate. They are the pieces of me that I have hidden away or felt shame about but are slowly starting to peek out in my life as areas that I love about myself. They are what makes me me.
This letter has granted me freedom, given me a new perspective and shown me the areas of myself that I want to celebrate in my life. I hope this post helps you to find more courage, truth and love in your life, dear friends.