For a long time I believed that forgiving someone meant I had to release everything about what they did or said to me and let them back into my life. I’m slowly realizing that I can forgive someone for whatever they’ve done—insensitive remarks, hurtful behavior, but that does not mean I have to subject myself to their repeated transgressions. Releasing the hurt and anger frees up room for better things in life. I can give up the power they had over me without making room for them in my life again. I realize that I opened up my life pretty wide on this blog. And yes, to some degree it means I also open myself to criticism and judgement from others who do not understand my journey or who refuse to just listen. I’m sorry they never learned empathy. But I can forgive them. Try to understand their humanity.
Forgiveness has not been an easy part of this path. Especially when you’re just trying to keep yourself from drowning. You expect everyone to be loving and supportive. And it’s disappointing to learn that some people are not. But the hardest part is forgiving myself. Your mind tells you many things when you’ve lost a child. And one of the biggest lies is that you were responsible for their death. Deep down I truly believe we did everything right for Zoey. Joe and I made tough decisions and all were made from love, but there’s still that nagging thought: “could I have done more?” There’s still guilt. Should we have pursued other options? Did I miss something? Was she ever in pain? I don’t read most of the stories about kids with Trisomy 18 that defy the odds. I can’t subject myself to it because it always makes me wonder. It always ties my stomach in knots.
I remember back when we tried to get pregnant the first time. And I felt so much guilt over repeatedly failing. And I feel that way again. Because I know it is me—it’s my body that has the problem. And you can’t listen to people give you advice (no matter how uninformed or ridiculous it is) over and over without it eating at you a little bit. I know I’m not doing anything wrong. And I know that I did what was best for Zoey. But knowing that and shutting up those little voices are two different things.
I wrote a letter to Joe at the grief retreat. It was based on a Hawaiian practice of healing.
“Hoʻoponopono” is defined in the Hawaiian Dictionary as “mental cleansing: family conferences in which relationships were set right through prayer, discussion, confession, repentance, and mutual restitution and forgiveness.”
The letter and Ho’oponopono are based on a couple prompts: I’m sorry. I forgive you. Thank you. I love you. I hope. I had nothing to forgive him for. He is an amazing father to our child. A wonderful husband. I am slowly learning to offer myself the same belief. If I want to change my world, it comes from within. Be thankful for the amazing gifts Zoey gives us. Forgive myself. Love myself and the mother that I am. And always hope.