A Better Man: An Essay About Forgiveness & Healing
June 18, 2019
Walking the path of forgiveness
I wrote this essay a few years ago but held onto it. I wasn’t yet ready to love and embrace the child I once was. I still felt so much shame and misplaced loyalty/responsibility around growing up with the harsh treatment that I did and I felt speaking my truth wasn’t very “nice”. My focus was still on protecting an image and pleasing others instead of loving and healing myself and honoring my own experience.
But I would have to first traverse layers upon layers of healing. Slowly and carefully dismantling all the self-defeating beliefs replacing them with unconditional love and healthy connections before I could bring this essay, dance, and my voice to life.
For so many years I wore deeply ingrained beliefs about my worthiness as a human being and especially about being a female. And I held the belief that the abuse I suffered as a child had somehow been my own fault, that if I had been more like another child, any other child, I would have deserved kindness and protection. But today, I now know I do deserve love, respect, and kindness.
And although sometimes it is still a struggle, I am walking the path of forgiveness. And as my heart continues to expand to hold all of my experiences across the spectrum from pain to joy, in all the variations, I understand we ALL deserve love and tenderness. No matter what role you played in a past story.
However, painful wounds do not heal in hiding, denial, or secrecy. They heal from being brought into the light and love of our awareness and acceptance. And it’s from this place forgiveness becomes possible.
…and with that in mind, I’m now ready to share this writing and a creative dance I used to release old pain still lodged in places long forgotten about on a conscious level.
And in so many ways, as I watched my dance afterward I could see the story in my body come through. I could see where I still needed to express and heal feelings of hopelessness, longing, non-acceptance, and frustration. But this is the healing work of dance. Bringing to the surface that which needs to be held to the light and given the chance to transform into love.
I hope my sharing my journey helps someone out there find hope and remember they hold strength to be their own hero.
A Better Man ~Essay 2017
I was driving down the road listening to the song “Better Man” by Little Big Town, and all of a sudden, I started thinking about my dad and about the hardness of my childhood. And I wondered if, like the song, I wished he was a better man back then…I mean, a part of me had always wished he was softer, more gentle, and wished he hadn’t been so scared of my femininity. That my femininity wasn’t such a threat, a thing of disdain…something to ridicule and break…
But then a new part of me started to speak and I realized that I no longer lived in the past. I no longer wished that he was a better man or had respected, and protected all of my softness in her little girl glory.
And as I explored this new layer of fledgling healing, I instead wished he could have loved himself more, and maybe then he would’ve taught me how to love myself more by his example. And then maybe I would’ve grown up knowing how to love myself instead of hating myself and showing that self-hatred to the world.
So now I’m thinking about the possibility of forgiveness. And I’m thinking about the long awkward silences and forced, stunted conversations. And I’m thinking about all the years of distance I kept as a punishment between us, and about the memories of how hard the crack of his hand felt against my cheek.
And I’m thinking of letting it all go.
Maybe it’s possible to heal broken connections by coming from the opposite direction? What if I love myself more? And then what if my love spilled over on to him and maybe even into the world?
Can this happen? I think it can.
Love heals, love transforms, love softens the hardest of memories into the compassionate understanding that at every given moment we all are doing our best. And in the end, it’s love that helps us let go and begin again.
So, no…I no longer wish my father had been a better man. Because wishing to change the past keeps me living in it. Instead, I wish to change the future.
And maybe choosing to love myself more, will pave the way
One step at a time.