Forgiving the Unforgivable

 

As an Intuitive Life Strategist who acts as an emotional compass helping people navigate life’s challenges by combining my work as a Spiritual Psychotherapist, life coaching, and energy psychology many people wonder what would be the point of working with someone like me. No matter how many self-help books, courses or workshops you do none of them will work unless you really want to heal & set it as a priority. The journey to happiness & peace begins when you are ready to let go of the pain & embrace all that you are with an open heart and allow yourself to be supported.

I wanted to share something very personal with you. Even though I speak on Forgiveness often, few grasp the power it brings.  I wanted to share with you my journey into the prison to visit the man accused of murdering my grandmother, with the hope that maybe this will inspire you to see what forgiveness might bring into your life.

In 2007, twelve years after the horrific tragedy that forever changed my family, I returned to my native South Africa to face the man who murdered my grandmother. After setting up a meeting through the warden, I borrowed a car and set out on the two-hour journey from my mom’s house to the prison. The whole way there I felt really calm; I had no thoughts, no expectations. Since I arrived an hour early, I sat in a coffee shop with a little journal, intending to write down questions to ask my grandmother’s killer. “What do I want to say to him?” I asked myself. Again, nothing came.

Instead, the memories of what happened came flooding back. Hearing the news that my paternal grandmother had been violently murdered was a devastating shock. Even more unbelievable was the discovery that my uncle’s estranged wife, Susan, had been behind the plan to kill her mother-in-law—and that her own son, a young man whom we called Wolfe, whom my grandmother loved as her own, was the perpetrator.

Years of dealing with overwhelming grief and rage; the desire for revenge. My family’s inability to cope; my own feelings of powerlessness and betrayal. It all came back in pictures, in echoes of emotions I’d worked hard to release over years of focused practice.

After spinning out of control for two years, I had moved to Canada to create a new life for myself and heal the pain from the past. I took workshops and learned how to hone my skills working with energy. I found someone who could help me understand my emotions. After the trial, I was afraid to deal with my anger, concerned that if I let my rage out I would not be able to stop and I might hurt myself or somebody else.

I learned how to calm myself down, how to release anger and other emotions in healthy ways and how to be present in my mind and body. Connecting my mind with body and spirit, I began to become aware of and understand what was happening in my body, and through that, trust my emotions. I was ready to face the past and the man who had set my downward spiral in motion.

When it was almost time for my appointed meeting, I made my way to the prison. Driving up to the dusty gate, I noticed a few prisoners standing in the garden. I was surprised to find that, despite the barbed wire fence, the building wasn’t frightening at all. Once inside, a woman at a desk greeted me, took my bag and notified the deputy warden I had arrived.

I returned to my native South Africa to face the man who murdered my grandmother

It was only when I went to use the bathroom that I broke into tears. It had been building for weeks, ever since I made the decision to visit Wolfe. My intention in coming to see him had nothing to do with him; it was about healing myself and confirming that all of the work I’d committed to doing was real and effective.

In November, just before my trip back home to South Africa, I had finished another piece of release of emotion. When that was completed, I felt a total relief in my body. My heart exploded. It may sound flaky and weird, but ever since I was a child I’ve been intuitive; I’m able to sense people, even those who are far away.

Not long after I released my last piece of anger and resentment, Susan’s face started coming into my consciousness. I’d be driving my car and she would come to mind. In the past, just the mention of her name would incite rage as my body reacted negatively. I was angrier with Susan than I was with Wolfe, because she got off without having to face justice. And yet now, when I thought of her, I had no reaction.

For a week, Susan came to me and then, toward the end, faded slowly. I knew I had to see Wolfe. Looking in the mirror in the prison bathroom, I remembered thinking, It’s time for me to have the courage to go back. I’m in a good space and I want to tell him how his actions impacted my life.

We all have a contract to learn a lesson.

After I wiped my face with a tissue, I walked with two guards down the corridor to the deputy warden’s office. Surrounded by bookshelves in his khaki-colored office, by walls made of cement brick, I chatted with the deputy. Finally I asked, “Does Wolfe seem to have any remorse?”

“Not in the beginning, no,” he replied. “But since he lost his mother, I’ve seen a change in him.”

I was stunned to find out Susan had passed away. “When did she die?” I asked.

“Around Christmas.”

I recalled the week Susan came to mind every day and thought about the profound healing in my heart and wondered, Who released whom? Did she die and release me? Or did I release her, and then she died?

While I waited for Wolfe to arrive, I sat quietly in the office and reflected on this news. Another gift has been given to me here. In this world, we are all connected. We all have a contract to learn a lesson, and my lesson is to learn compassion to that degree and forgiveness to that degree. You learn by doing, by going through experience. You have to do the work, but in the end you have been given the gift of the lesson.

And then all too quickly, there he was. In his orange jumpsuit, too big for his slight frame, Wolfe looked the same. Nothing much had changed, except he was thinner, the physical impact of living in prison. Somehow I thought he would grow into a big man, but he seemed smaller, and timid.

We sat on opposite sides of the room, the two guards off to one side to give us as much privacy as possible. We exchanged hellos. He asked me where I lived. I’m not sure what made me do it, but I got up, crossed the room and sat down right next to him. I could tell Wolfe was afraid, but I felt I had to be near him. I felt no fear.

Nothing changes unless you are willing to face your fears.

Sitting shoulder to shoulder, Wolfe started to explain what happened on that terrible day. He talked for a long time, and to this day I can’t recall what he said. It wasn’t important; I wasn’t there to hear his side of the story. It didn’t matter. I had come for another purpose.

When he was finished, I said, “I want to tell you what happened to my family.”

Wolfe tensed up, but he listened as I told him how his actions basically destroyed us, that we had lost so much more than my grandmother that day. In a calm voice I said, “You know my uncle died soon after you killed her. Well, two years later, my father passed away. His health was ravaged by his inability to cope with what happened. And my mother—she’s never recovered from finding grandmother’s body. She still has nightmares every night.” Emotional but calm, I summoned up my courage and went on to explain the impact this senseless murder had on my own life—how much anger I had had toward him and his mother, and the years of feeling helpless and out of control. Finally, I said, “You also took away my trust. Not just my trust in people. You took away my trust in humanity.”

We were silent for a moment, and then I asked, “Was it worth it?”

“No. I’m so sorry, Diane.”

Without hesitation I turned to him and said, “I’ve forgiven you.”

He seemed surprised. “I can’t forgive myself.”

“You have to forgive yourself. It’s the only way you can move forward.”

Wolfe shook his head ever so slightly and in a quiet voice said, “I don’t think I’ll be able to do that.”

Wolfe wasn’t ready to consider releasing any of the pain, shame or regret he carried. In my own healing work and in my healing work with clients, I’ve learned that you cannot run away from your life—it’s there every day when you wake up.

Dont give into your anxiety about starting the forgiveness process.

You can avoid, deny and distract yourself, you can wear your mask, but eventually the Universe will create a situation where you are forced to look at it. Nothing changes unless you are willing to face your fears, until you have the courage to do the work.

Life throws us curveballs, and yes, bad things happen to good people. But we have an inner spirit that is resilient and we only have one life to live. When we get knocked down we get up and heal; we find the courage to face our fears, our shame, and it is imperative we deal with our emotions, as they are the sign posts of what needs healing. Staying stuck in your head will not change anything. The connection between the mind and body needs to be made, so you can live from your soulful purpose and not what the ego/monkey mind creates for you. When we change our inner world, our external world also starts to change for the better.

Walking out of the prison that day was a surreal moment. I kept thinking, Is this real? What have I done? It felt so big. And I felt so different. I sat in my car for a while before I drove back; I knew I would be inundated with questions from my family and I wanted to sit with my feelings. I waited for the anger I knew so well and had lived with for so long to come back, but there was nothing. There was only peace. I felt as though I was floating. For nearly half an hour I sat there in a blissful state of lightness and joy. I’m free. I smiled all the way home.

Forgiveness is the foundation of creating happiness in your life. When you forgive someone, or yourself, you reclaim your power. The act of forgiveness is you taking it back. And until you find the inner courage to forgive, you will be stuck, a part of you lost to the person or situation you cannot release.

You can make the choice to find the courage to reclaim your power.

I had the courage to face Wolfe and my fears. I had the courage to heal. We all have that; the spark is within all of us and we just have to make the flame bigger. You may think you don’t have the courage, but you do.

Lately, in my Spiritual Psychotherapy practice, I have noticed one of the main things some client’s struggle with is self-forgiveness. They can’t figure out why they are struggling in their businesses or in life, not realizing it’s in part because they are not connected to their emotional selves and how that relates to everything. Entrepreneurs especially are often head people, caught up in the monkey mind. From that place, the forgiveness process seems daunting.

Don’t give into your anxiety about starting the forgiveness process. It’s not easy, but it’s not as hard as we make it out to be.

When you release the pain and shame and anger and resentment, you will experience a peace you have never known before. And when you find inner peace, your outer world will begin to shift and present you with boundless opportunities for connection, fulfillment and joy.

Realize there is a lesson in what is happening to you, and part of that experience is how you handle it. You can continue to avoid your emotions and remain disconnected from your body and spirit; you can continue to blame and hide and rage and suffer. Or you can empower yourself to take control of your life. You can make the choice to find the courage to reclaim your power.

Before I left the prison that day, Wolfe asked, “May I give you a gift?”

I agreed. He left with a guard and came back with a card on which he had drawn a picture of a butterfly on a flower. Inside the card he had written, “Thank you for coming to see me. Thank you for helping me.” In that moment I could feel all of this healing happening; the energy was everywhere in the room.

He turned to leave, but before he could I stopped the guard and asked, “May I give him a hug?”

Wolfe looked hesitant. I had never hugged him as a kid; I only saw him once or twice a year. When the guard agreed, I stepped forward and wrapped my arms around Wolfe. It felt as though I had grown, as though I had gotten so big energetically. Engulfing him in a bear hug, I felt a warmth flow into my heart. I could feel him shaking. I held him while he cried, my body, my mind, my spirit, my everything so full of compassion and love for this man who had taken away someone very dear to me, for this man upon whom I once dreamt of exacting revenge. As he sobbed in my arms I said, “Please, please forgive yourself.

Please forgive yourself. It’s time.

Forgiveness is your ticket to freedom and inner peace.

Hugs,

Di

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If you are looking to make a change this year but not sure where to start or clear on what it looks like I have a few openings in my business for taking on new clients. If you are committed to making this year your year and ready to invest the time and resources in yourself there is no better time to start. Contact me & book your complimentary call. If you want more information check out my book Forgiveness: How to let go when it still hurts. Included in the book are worksheets to help you through the process.

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