I had a recent life changing conversation with my sister Diane. She recently came to town to see her daughter who moved to my neck of the woods, and texted to say she wouldn't have time to see me. Now if this were anybody, I would have reacted with understanding and would be grateful that she even reached out to let me know about how bad she felt that she couldn't see me.
If this were anybody I would have sent a text back saying I understood, and I know how hard it is to find time to do things when your already stretched thin. I would have thanked her for texting me, showing that she cared enough to tell me what was going on. I would have sent her my love and said let's meet up another time.
But I didn't do that. Instead I ignored her text and spent the majority of the day crying and calling my mom and other siblings to tell them how upset this made me.
You see, what came up in that moment was not just a mere missed connection. This was a childhood wound that had never taken the time to forgive and heal. This was an unresolved issue that has plagued me most of my adult life. Yet speaking to my sister was a turning point for me. It was finally time for me to forgive and stop seeing myself as a victim, but more of a participant in healing all wounds.
As the youngest of six, I was the true "black sheep". I was the only red head and the only one not into sports (although I tried several and hated every second of them!). I didn't have stellar grades like my older siblings and was the only one who focused on the arts and dance. My mom was a single mom whose only support system was each other. As the youngest I had my then teenage siblings watch over me. I always felt like they hated this job and were overly focused on their own lives to care about me (at least that is what I told myself).
That is why I was the only one to leave my home town of Denver when I was barely 19 without a plan in sight. My family just thought I was brave and adventurous. But in truth I felt like I didn't belong and couldn't stand that feeling of be that kid in the gym that nobody picked. I walked away from my family and swore I would never go back.
Yet every year I still visited. I had to! But I cried every time I went.
And here I was, at the age of 43, crying as if I was 4. Still feeling unloved and finding proof that my family didn't love me when my sister sent that text.
Without knowing how I felt, my sister reached out to me again, apologizing for not visiting me. It was at this time we had the conversation that should have happened years ago. The one where true forgiveness finally sinks in. You see she had no idea I had such a sad childhood. I never told her how disconnected I felt from them all nor that I moved away feeling unloved and determined to write them all out of my life.
She shared her sadness for her life and how she always felt like I was my dad's favorite. I too had no idea she felt this way and we both felt a tremendous amount of love and appreciation for each other through this conversation.
I forgave her. I forgave myself. I forgave my mom. I forgave my dad. And by doing so, I released the sadness that has kept me stuck and on the verge of tears every time I went to see my family.
The key to forgiveness is understanding and perspective. No matter what someone has done to you, I guarantee that if you took five minutes to just listen to them and hear their story, you would no longer find them to be your enemy. In fact it's being vulnerable that helps us heal. It's being allowed to be seen that gives others a deeper understanding of who we really are. And equally its the ability to see someone with loves eyes, that help them heal too.
This conversation with my sister was a life changer. It showed me that I now need to talk to all of my siblings and share this experience with them so they too can heal. We all have that someone (or somebodies) that we feel have hurt us. Isn't it time that you forgive so you can truly move on? It sure has helped me.