Throughout life we all get wounded. It is inevitable. So as much as I want you to go through life never feeling hurt, rejected, sad, grief or any number of emotions we know as ‘bad’, it is impossible. Not only that, in my own life I know the value of experiencing the whole contrast of emotions and experiences and how it seasons you. What I would like to do for you is to instil a firm sense of self-love so that you will simply allow these emotions but not cling to them. You won’t let them define you or allow you to become the victim. There is a tool that you can learn that has amazing power and ability to dissolve the past and any wounds. That tool is forgiveness.
I received my first wound when I was born. Whatever her circumstances were at the time, my birth Mother felt she could not be a Mother to me so she gave me up for adoption. My first six weeks of life were spent in a hospital being cared for by nursing staff. My Mum and Dad, who could not have children, applied to adopt a child. Our destinies aligned and it was they who arrived at the hospital in Sydney to collect me and take me home as their own.
I don’t ever remember a conversation with them about being adopted as they explained it when I was very young. So I grew up knowing it. I had a sense of rejection that hung over me like a cloud and despite being reminded that I was very much cherished and wanted, I always felt my heart was searching and seeking for that feeling of belonging. I was very interested to come across some information just recently about the study into emotional memories. The example of adopted children was used to highlight the theory. Even though many babies are adopted quite young and have no cognitive memory of their separation from their Mother, the majority will still suffer from abandonment issues. They grow up knowing their place in a family and no matter how much they are loved, there is an emotional memory that stays with them.
As I grew older I bought into many beliefs about myself. If I was criticised it was confirmation that I was not good enough. My sensitive nature made me an easy target for bullying at school, which confirmed my belief that I was unlovable. I was crippled by depression and with nobody to talk to about it, I muddled on believing that nobody would ever understand me. By the time I was a young woman I was an expert at masking my emotional pain and became a perfectionist to make up for a terrible feeling of unworthiness. I blindly wandered through my adult life until the amazing gift of cancer rescued me.
When I was pregnant with you I was so determined to be there in a loving physical way when you were born, to be totally available to you. Unlike my own experience almost 40 years prior of not having a Mother with which to bond and be held and connect with in my first weeks of life. When you were born I was so incapacitated my plans went out the window. In the hospital I wanted to do whatever I could, even though I was very limited. I depended so much on your Father because I was mostly confined to the bed. He got up to you every four hours for your feeds, he wandered down the corridor to the nursery to prepare your bottles and he bathed you while I leaned on the sink for support. Each time he left the room, my anxiety levels would rise and you would sense it and let out a little squawk. If you cried and needed attention I would hook my ankle around the leg of your portable cot to pull it towards the bed. I would sit up, find an angle that caused the least amount of pain, grab a huge handful of your blanket and drag you out onto the bed. The sense of achievement would be massive but I was constantly berated by nursing staff or your Father for doing it by myself. Nurses would come into the room and discover I had wrangled you out of your cot and go to great lengths to explain that patient call buttons were there to be pressed! In truth I didn’t like to bother them. When I told them that, they appeared in the doorway twice as frequently to ask if I needed help. They were amazing and so good to me, to us.
So I learned a valuable lesson and it lead me to the most important act of forgiveness that I would make in my whole life. I always thought I never felt anything about the woman who gave birth to me. I never knew her and didn’t feel any kind of attachment. Yet it was massively important for me to do things differently for you, to ensure you didn’t have the same experience of abandonment that I had. I realised that the wound was so old and so deep that I felt it had become fused with me, that it was me. But wounds are never, ever you.
I let that wound rise to the surface, finally, fully and completely. I let go the imbedded hurt I had for the loss of a beautiful entry into this world. You see, she gave me the most precious gift ever; she gave birth to me.
I forgave a woman I have never met and allowed myself to understand the heartache she must have felt at giving away her baby. She said goodbye to a lifetime of memories and a future she could not predict nor be a part of. Our society did not provide a loving and accepting space to women who were not married and found themselves pregnant. What a painful experience for her to have. I hope with my whole heart that she has forgiven herself because I have nothing but love for her.
Seamus, forgiveness is a transformative power that will release you from the shackles of resentment, blame and guilt. It will free you from anger and unworthiness. Forgiveness has an incredible beauty that you cannot live without. Use it with reckless abandon. We are connected by life energy to everything. We are not separate so abandonment is merely a belief, a concept of the mind, therefore it is not real. Only love is real and forgiveness is the path to it.
“The door to my heart opens inward. I move through forgiveness to love” – Louise Hay