Forgiveness

Last night at the Town Hall book talk & signing event with Kate, a woman asked us to share on the subject of forgiveness.

Today, I still find myself thinking about it.

Did I answer her with complete honesty?  What is this thing called forgiveness and what is my relationship to it?

When I met Kate, I didn’t feel like the major issue at hand was for me to forgive her.  To forgive her would have meant that she had done something to hurt me.  But I was actually happy that I had been adopted.  I adored my parents and would not have wanted it any other way.  I truly still feel this.  I think it was my great fortune and blessing that I met my mother and father…. in fact I often feel that it was really a choice that my Soul had made and it wasn’t going to be any other way.  I mean if you consider the fact that first I was meant to be Kate’s child, then I was meant to be some other lady’s child of Kate’s choice, but somehow stars crossed and I ended up in Watertown Massachusetts with Bob & Beverly Gaudette, I think we can say for certain that this was no coincidence.

However, as time passed and I began to know Kate, there became many things I felt like I had to forgive her for. Why did she say this, why did she do that? I was very oversensitive in my relationship with her.  I was easily hurt.  She was a person who could really make or break my heart for a long time.  So, I think the forgiving process began then – it unraveled as our relationship did.

And that’s why I love our relationship so much.  The relationship itself is like a bird covered in tar and bound in chains.  As times passes, one by one we are releasing those chains and cleaning off that tar.  It feels like our relationship is getting ready to fly now.  To experience this healing process really makes my heart sing.

But what does it all come down to really?  My teacher often says, “There is no one and nothing to forgive.”  What does that mean?  As the years pass and I continue to reflect on it, I have come to feel that the only person to forgive is myself.

I must forgive myself for the hurts that I impose on myself. I can fool myself for a while that it was someone else who did something to me, but that really gets me nowhere.  I must love and forgive myself all day long for any small and big stories that come up and take over my mind.  I am learning how to do this even now in this moment.

Kate and I have done a tremendous amount of work.  It’s such a beautiful thing.  However, I still have a person in my life who I need to forgive, who is like a thorn in my heart.  I am not completely free from this. But when I look at it honestly, it’s really that I just have to forgive myself more.  I have to be o.k. with me – all of me – and then I can easily be o.k. with others. I think this is the only hope for human relationships in our world.

Let’s just look at the word itself! For-give. For giving. We need to seek to give love, not seek to get it.  That has been a huge realization for me.  The more I seek to get love, the more I suffer and the more I need to “forgive.”  Because, I might get love for a little while, but it will be fleeting. Everything is.  Once that love, attention, energy is gone, I can feel pain again. On the other hand, when I just seek to give love first, I feel happy.  I feel truly happy and fulfilled and I don’t need anything at all.  At that time I feel the love of Heaven and Earth and it is the greatest love of all. I am content, like a flower in the sun, like a star twinkling alone in the sky.

I strive to deepen my capacity to love and forgive myself. I am interested in harmony.  The thorn in my heart is like the oyster that grinds this pearl of love inside.  My love will be that much more shinier in the end!  I have certainly experienced this with Kate and truly believe in the great power it could have over the human race if we could all just take a moment to go within, embrace ourselves, and breathe the comfort of love and acceptance back into the world.

 

18 Thoughts.

  1. Danielle, I believe that you are very brave to be sharing your story, as Kate is to be sharing hers. I myself was adopted but every situation is different. Mine was not really the choice of the parents, and believe me, I do have resentment towards my birth-mother. However, I have my adoptive family whom I love and they make up for any pain caused by a birth parent such as mine. If I may be so forward as to tell my story? My sister and I were premature twins born in what was considered a spontaneous birth because birth parents did things they shouldn’t have, such as drugs and drinking despite doctors’ warnings. We were not treated properly and had to stay with family until the adoption agency decided that we had to be removed from the family home as the cousin fell ill and taken to a separate foster home. We ended up having to be adopted out-of-province because we were known in the small province we were from. As a result of the premature birth, my sister and I were born with disabilities such as Cerebral Palsy. I ended up with more because of the reason I stated before and have Hydrocephalus (shunted but dependent on it), an Acquired Brain Injury, collapsed lung, but this is not the worst of it. As it was a closed adoption the birth parents were not allowed to contact us. However, upon meeting a birth sibling who had also been adopted out yet in the family, things happened and we had to cut ties again, how does one forgive someone who did things knowingly which “made us the way we are”? I hope that this isn’t too much. My sister is a Paralympian, so I suppose that Mother Nature made us the we are for a reason, despite some people thinking that we need healing. And perhaps we do but not in the way that closed minded individuals think we do.

    Taya

    • Hello Taya ~ thank you for reaching out and sharing your story with me. I’m sorry for the suffering and pain that you have experienced in life. Yes your situation sounds different than mine in that you feel hurt by your birth parents. Once we feel hurt by someone consciously, I believe it is very difficult to let go of that hurt. I am certainly not exempt from this. One thing I feel is that after a while it becomes more miserable to hold onto that hurt and feel like a victim of my circumstance. That victimized mind that resides in us is so disempowering – it keeps taking our joy away. I want to recommend that instead of trying to ‘forgive’ something or someone that feels unforgiveable, keep shifting your attention to what you do have power over. You have power over how you live your life now and with what kind of mind you will live it. We all have that power. And despite the limitations of the body and mind which we all have in varying degrees, everyone is still an embodiment of life itself. You too have this bright and pure life inside of your heart. I want to recommend that you keep bringing your attention to that light and grow it big with your love, and let the other painful hurts just be there. Just let them be there. They cannot be changed now. But you can change your mind. This is the great blessing of choice that we all have. I hope that you understand and this is somehow helpful for your question to me. I wish the best for you and am so happy to know that you were given the gift of wonderful, loving adoptive parents. That is the most important thing of all. ~ Danielle

      • Thank you so much for your input on this. It was a very unfortunate situation which could have been avoided if they had just listened to the doctors and authorities, but I digress… My birth mother has passed on from cancer at a younger age than most, and I admit that it brought up feelings that my twin and I did not expect to feel. We didn’t expect to feel anything, but I suppose it made feelings of abandonment and feeling small like a little child resurface. In fact in the obituary, they stated our birth names, but who would state in an obituary that 4 of the children were taken by CAS? Nobody. That’s not anything people really need to know. My one behavioral consultant wondered why I have those feelings about a person I barely know, and the truth is, some adoptive children do. They said to let it go, but as I stated to them, are we not allowed to feel angry? In a way I want to respect her because she is deceased, but at the same time I also want to scream. It would be different had I only had these feelings following her passing. Then I wouldn’t really have the right to be mad at the deceased. However, I have had these feelings since age two even though at that age, I did not fully understand things yet. Over time, I have been able to find coping strategies, including Tai-Chi, Yoga and Meditation as well as a Problem Solving group for people with Acquired Brain Injuries such as mine. Thank you again for your advice to me.

        Taya

        • Hi Taya, I just want to let you know that you have every right to feel whatever you feel. All those feelings are ok. I’m so glad you are working on your coming strategies. If any of the exercises that I provide in the videos I have posted can help you, please feel free to use them. Best to you ~

  2. I feel guilty with my replies becasue this blog is about you and your journey. However, I do feel safe, I suppose, talking to you. You have a very genuine and kind aura about you, Danielle. I feel an emotional response reading your blog entries. I’ve always had low self-esteem hence the reason I feel guilty. I was bullied in school and it’s very difficult to find someone who really seems to understand. Because of my brain injury and other things, I guess I was an easy target. How do you let go of the guilt and other feelings? I guess I have to forgive myself for all the things that I’ve endured in my life. I’m sorry if I keep apologizing because that is the feeling of guilt coming back. For years, because of my issues,, I have had anxiety and have dealt with many different things, including being called a problem child. One thing I have been able to achieve is an Anti-Bullying presentation that I hope to take to highschools which is here if you would like to see it: http://www.slideshare.net/tayarebeccaburrows/anti-bullying-36660237 And the videos which are cued in are in order here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BeTjx5OrYww
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qW2ve6_BkRA
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AC77psVg3uc

    Thank you again, Danielle. You are an absolute treasure for what you do.

    • Taya,

      First of all you certainly don’t have to feel guilty towards me or say that you are sorry 🙂 But yes I understand your mind and your patterns.

      For yourself, I want to recommend the four phrases of “I’m sorry”, “Please forgive me”, “Thank you” and “I love you”. I want to recommend that you take time each day to sit or lie with yourself and put your hands on your chest and have a deep conversationw with yourself about all the things feel sorry for, the things you want to be forgiven for, the things you are grateful for and the things you love. Keep talking, even if you shed tear, just keep expressing to yourself. This will be very healing for yoour past, present and future. The person who you are expressing these phrases to is only yourself. Feel the self that is alwasy with you listening to you, and it will give you much wisdom and comfort of the Soul.

      As for your videos, I watched them and they made me feel sad and sorry. I will pray that someday we can live altogether in a harmonious world.

      Thank you for sharing your mind ~

      Danielle

  3. The videos were supposed to play in the slideshare presentation which I shared with you. It is another venture into my mind and my past I suppose, as well as awareness for another. I worked on this for 3 years. It is something I am very passionate about because of my experiences. It is difficult to forgive the ones who made my school years so miserable because, as I revealed in the presentation, nobody understood anything about who I was as a person, even the teachers. It is unfortunate what can happen to others as was also revealed for the same reason. Thank you for understanding me and taking the time to help.

    Taya

  4. Hi Danielle,

    Can you talk a bit about when & how you were told you were adopted, and when you first realized exactly what that entailed?

    My preschooler was adopted but has no real understanding of what that means. To complicate matters, he has ASD so I am not sure if he’ll really grasp the concept.

    Thanks!

    • Hi Kris!

      Sure, I’m happy to. Did you read my “I was Adopted” post? I basically explain it there.

      For me, there was no one moment that I remember my parents sitting me down and telling me. I do remember my mother saying “You didn’t grow in my belly. You grew in another lady’s belly and then we came and picked you up. You’re our adopted angel” when I was very small. But in my memory it seems like I just grew up knowing this. I believe my mother shared that with me often in close moments when we were snuggling or playing. Her and my father would often praise me and tell me I was special and their adopted angel. Honestly, they made me feel like a tiny goddess 🙂 For me the confusion came later when I was in school and met other kids. They didn’t believe me. I was clearly different suddenly and I had to get used to that, but because I was on such solid grounds about it with my parents, I felt pretty ok about it. I only remember feeling consciously angry once in the second grade.

      I think it’s beautiful that you have adopted a child. I want to thank you for doing that. I really believe that you should just go ahead and start sharing and putting it into his awareness in the most bright and joyful and beautiful way possible. Let him know the blessing that he is, more than that he was not wanted. Even if he doesn’t understand, it’s ok. I recommend just comfortably letting him grow up with that information about himself. If he learns it later suddenly, it can feel too jarring. Trust can be shaken. I think trust comes out later as a big issue for adopted kids so it’s good if he has the most trusting relationship possible with you from the beginning. The younger you tell him the better, I believe.

      I hope this is helpful for you.

      Blessings to you both on your journey!

      Danielle

      • Hi Danielle!

        Thanks for your advice. So weird, within 30 minutes of my post, my son asked out of the blue about his adoption – more detailed questions than previous discussions. He’s so intuitive!

        I kept it as simple as possible – basic info plus a few little details (birth mom’s name, age, etc). He seemed a little hung up on the fact that he was in a temporary boarding home for a few weeks between leaving the hospital and coming home with us. We also talked about several of his friends who are adopted and similarities/differences they share. He asked about the possibility of meeting his birth mom in the future. I told him we would absolutely help him track her down and completely support him no matter what. We also talked about how some birth moms stay in touch with their kids, while others are unable to. His adoption is closed by birth mom’s choice. His friends all have similar circumstances (although several parents exchange yearly pictures/letters) so he knows that his friends share his experience.

        My son is African-American and both myself and my wife are white women so adoption has always been part of our everyday conversation. He has attended parties, events, workshops, etc at his adoption agency and he is beginning to put his story together. We work very closely with children and young adults in foster care and have an unofficial 4th family member – an 18 year old who recently left the system. The teen spends a lot of time with us and my son has begun to realize that this young man has had a very difficult upbringing. I think that has something to do with his new line of questioning.

        My other question for you (and I apologize if you addressed this already!): what’s your opinion on Gotcha Day? We’ve always marked the day by doing something fun together but lately I’ve been hearing it’s not something that should be “celebrated”. Thoughts?

        Thank you!
        Kristin

        • Hello again Kristin,

          I actually never heard of Gotcha day. What is that??

          For me, I really liked how it all happened. I knew about being adopted from the beginning, this was presented as a special thing, and at the same time I was completely a part of my family and not much recognized as different than the blood that raised me in anyway. I liked that. It created a feeling of belonging that I think was important. At the same time, I didn’t know anything much about my birth mother except that I was told that she was a young actress and that’s why she gave me up for adoption. So I was free to know nothing or find out whatever I could according to my own choice.

          I think I advocate for this as most helpful for the child ~ although it could just be my own bias 🙂

          And again I’m sorry, I’ve never even heard of Gotcha Day so I don’t know how to respond….

          Warmly,
          Danielle

  5. Oh and as for making him feel special – he’s my Italian mom’s only grandchild – and a boy – so we call him Baby Jesus. My parents are currently petitioning the Vatican to officially change the date of Christmas to his birthday…

  6. So Gotcha Day is the anniversary of the day a child was placed in their adoptive home. Celebrations vary, but we re-tell the story of the day we met him, look at pictures of his first days with us and just spend time together as a family. We also do something to help other families as a way to honor his birth mom. This year, he chose to donate snacks to our town food pantry to be distributed to food insecure kids in our community. In the past we’ve volunteered at a literacy carnival, read Todd Parr’s Adoption Book to his class and donated toys and books to local organizations.

    Some adoptees and birth families feel it’s not right to celebrate loss – for both the birth family and the adoptee’s lost connection to their origins. Some think it’s insensitive. Of course that’s not our intention at all, but I worry that we’re doing something he may resent as he comes to understand his story. What are your thoughts?

    • I see. Wow, I’ve never heard of that.

      I definitely am not of the opinion that this kind of celebration would be in any way insensitive. I really feel that he is totally and completely your son and you are totally and completely his mother. His birth mother lost her right to that connection when she made the choice to give him up for adoption – regardless of her circumstances, that was the trade that she made.

      As far as his disconnection to his origins….well, that’s why he has the right to explore that and reconnect someday if he chooses to. You are not blocking that in any way. So, I don’t think that there is anything even remotely resentment-provoking in your celebratory activities.

      Although I did not have this kind of attention drawn to my own adoption, I believe that anything you do out of love is wonderful. That’s all he need is lots and lots of love. That love will overpower everything – even someday in the future when he understands more.

      Also, please be aware that it might not be possible to avoid a situation where he someday feels resentment and all kinds of feelings. Those are just feelings that are probably in his cells and bones. They have to come out at some point. That’s why, the love itself will comfort the blow of all of that. Just great, unconditional, totally embracing love.

      I am a very spiritual person. I believe that every one of our Souls came to this planet to learn and study something. I believe that his and your Souls wanted to be together. So, beyond the blood ties, this spiritual bond is far more important and meaningful. Therefore, if Gotcha Day is a celebration of the fact that you found each other in this lifetime, then that is a truly beautiful thing. Celebrate it joyfully and without concern.

      Just live and love and play together. Be honest and open but also let him know that he is totally fine, totally accepted, totally loved. If you can, also try to let him know who he really is – let him feel the true little life force that he is beyond his name and circumstance. And how to do these things? For this, I think that you can handle it in whatever way your heart guides you.

      I also think it’s nice that you are awakening the healing and giving mind within him at such a young age through your activities. That’s great.

      These are all my thoughts ~ I hope they are helpful to you in some way 🙂

      Danielle

  7. I just dropped by and really lost myself reading all your beautiful postings. You are a very gifted writer, very inspiring and very spiritual, helping and encouraging. You definitely should write a book!

    I read four of your blog posts so far and picked this one to comment and I just want to say: Thank you for your well written words.

  8. I was moved by your post about forgiveness. Having come from a tumultuous relationship with my mother, I realized long ago that she would never want or need my forgiveness to continue on in happiness. But I did. I needed to be heard. My hurts, my pain, my sorrow needed a voice. So I started the journey of letting go of all that had bound me growing up: abuse, abandonment, loneliness. It’s not a completed journey by far, but I can see where I started and the progress I’ve made. Every day I make a choice: to dwell on past hurts or to give myself the gift of happiness and joy. Thankfully, most days I choose joy.
    Thank you again for your post.

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