Is forgiveness a requirement?

Forgiveness has been a topic I have been thinking about lately in my own personal journey. Whenever we are faced with heartbreak or betrayal – the first piece of advice we come across is to forgive the other person. Forgiveness feels graceful. It feels like a natural requirement to healing. How can I be healed if I haven’t forgiven? Lately, I have found myself torturing myself  over the fact that I wasn’t able to forgive a person that hurt me deeply. I felt “lesser” because I hadn’t forgiven them and I felt resentful. I found myself confiding to my therapist about this guilt I felt over not forgiving . I told her I felt like a horrible person because, I wasn’t able to forgive. I felt resentful and angry still and all I wanted to was forgive….and let go.  She paused and encouraged me to think about what forgiveness would provide me in this journey.  She asked me why is it that forgiveness is so important to me and asked me to understand where this need was coming from?

 

When I asked myself these questions, I realized that I wanted to forgive because it felt like the right thing to do. I have always been understanding and empathetic I told her and all I wanted was to empathize with the other person. After all, how can I be this empathetic person if I felt resentful?  Staying with my feeling of hurt and resentment felt ugly and messy. It would be so much more graceful to forgive…. It would make me feel above all the “negative” feelings that I feeling. I didn’t want to feel resentful so, I thought that saying I have forgiven this person would make me feel better… someone above the feeling of resentment.

 

But, bypassing these negative feelings and jumping to “forgiveness” did nothing for me. I had to sit with each negative feeling I felt: pain, rejection, hurt, anger, resentment, self-loathing and more anger. Sitting with these feelings and being true to emotions allowed me to understand that I hadn’t completely healed. This all made me realize one big thing: Healing is a prerequisite to forgiveness. We cannot forgive unless we have healed. It isn’t the other way around that once we forgive, we heal. Once you have healed, forgiveness is the natural next step.  Once you have made peace with your pain, there is nothing else left to do but, forgive the other person…. it comes by itself without force or torture.

 

I tell my friends and myself that forgiveness is not a requirement to healing. Healing is a prerequisite to forgiveness. You cannot have one without the other but, forgiveness does not come first. Bypassing negative feeling by forcing yourself to forgive will only suppress these emotions internally. Be truthful and honest with yourself even when it is difficult. Let yourself be angry and in pain for a moment… let these emotions ring true and let them work themselves out without being suppressed. Once you can make peace with yourself – forgiveness will show up where you need it to be.

 

The goal isn’t a Band-Aid solution to pain. It isn’t spiritual bypass through difficult emotions. It is to be authentic in all our feelings and emotions.

 

Heal first then, you will forgive.

 

Are you healed or distracted?

Hi – this post has been getting a lot of hits. I wish you luck with your healing. Please also check out my other posts and let me know if you have any suggestions / topics. 🙂

Yesterday, I had the urge to go to a lake by my work. I left work on time finishing up all my emails and tasks and happily headed to a lake. It was a bit past sunset and the lake was a beautiful hue of dark blue. There were birds floating peacefully through the water and a lot of people running and walking by. I strolled around the pathway passing by all sorts of faces. I sat in a park bench in the cold and just looked at the Denver skyline and I felt relaxed…I felt at peace. I wanted a mental break – a moment of peace – and I got it. I hadn’t felt this peaceful since my breakup so, I was feeling zen (or so I thought).

After about 15 minutes of this pure bliss, I went to my car to head back home. 10 minutes into the ride, I started crying uncontrollably. I hadn’t cried in weeks but, somehow my emotions overwhelmed me. I had gone through a heartbreak a few months ago, so I knew the pain was still there. I just did not know how desperately my pain wanted to be heard. All my emotional pain was spilling out in the car ride. I went from feeling shame and guilt for how I let myself be treated to feeling soul crushingly hurt. No matter how much I tried,  I could not stop crying. This outburst of emotions left me feeling confused and frustrated. Hadn’t I been through this already? Hadn’t I made peace with my relationship ending? The more I asked myself these questions, the more my heart said no. I had suppressed these emotions through distractions so deep down that I had confused the state of being distracted for healing.

We’re told to handle breakups by cutting our hair, focusing on our jobs, maybe even moving to a new city. That was what I was doing. I was focused on work more than ever, I was teaching myself how to code and I felt like I was the queen of breakups. Deep down what I was really doing was distracting myself. From the moment I woke up to the time I went to sleep, I had an escape. Either through work, studying, social media, Netflix, or even reading – I had an escape. I did not give myself a minute of me. The person closest to me, myself, was nowhere to be found.  I had no time for thoughts, feelings, happiness and especially not pain. I distracted myself to the point of extreme shunning of anything internal….anything real.

It is human nature to avoid pain and uncomfortable situations. Our brains are designed to protect us from pain. Protection in the form of distraction led me to confuse distraction with healing. Not giving myself the time to feel my painful emotions did not mean that they ceased to exist – they just kept being suppressed. I asked myself if I was healed or if I just distracted? Had I worked through my pain or had I just shoved it to the innermost corners that will most likely erupt one day?

This realization has made me realize how important it is to be alone and to hear your voice. Alone does not mean eating ice cream and watching Netflix (although, there is time for that as well). Alone means staying with your emotions and feeling them authentically no matter how painful or burdensome. It is allowing yourself to have the quiet and peace where you can check in with yourself. It truly means time spent alone in the quiet, in nature, or in a place where you do not have any external stimuli (podcasts, reading, TV, music etc). All of these things are positive and deserve their own time but, these things do not let us be fully with ourselves. The time spent alone in reflection can lead to true healing – to healing that is honest and authentic and not created out of insecurity and avoidance. Once we remove distractions, we can begin to work through our pain and find ways to mend it.  This honest admission of pain can lead us to healing.

I encourage you to take some time to be alone with your own thoughts. Let that moment with yourself be a guide towards your healing and wellbeing.

An App for Heartbreak?

After going through a fairly terrible heartbreak this Summer, I was on a quest to find a solution. I am a fairly logical person and I think break-ups are a part of life. Still, an end of a 6 year relationship was too devastating to use logic (even for me). I spent a lot of my time googling “how to get over a heartbreak” and listening to countless hours of YouTube videos. Some of them advocated for posting your best selfies in Instagram to show how well you’re doing without your ex and some just concluded only time could heal wounds.

I didn’t like either of those ways.

Yes, time is the only thing that heals breakups but, there are ways to cope with it that are much more healthier. Break-up is an obstacle we face that may cause us to feel extreme emotional pain. This pain needs to be taken seriously and be dealt with in the most healthiest way possible.

That is when I found Mend. Mend is a self-care app that helps people with heartbreak. Each day you go into the app and listen to a snippet that explains how we may be feeling. The person who reads the snippet to you has the most soothing voice ever (which helps). Mend was created by Elle Huerta who herself went through a difficult break-up and wanted a more healthier and better way to deal with heartbreak. And, she’s a Latina. Like, how perfect? 🙂

I have been using Mend for over a week and it truly helps me start my day off correctly. Whenever I listen to the daily lesson, it reminds me that my pain is not unprecedented. We all have gone through similar pains and heartbreaks. We have all dealt with difficulties. Although there might not be a pill to take and completely bypass our feelings – there are healthier ways to deal with heartbreaks. You do not have to succumb to resentment or anger and you can actually learn to be grateful for your ex (plays thank u, next by Ariana Grande).

Mend helps me take a better approach to heartbreak. I do not want to be a victim. I do not want to be bitter. I want to let go of my relationship gracefully with love and kindness. That is exactly what Mend is helping me do.

Despite all this, it would be careless for me to not mention how difficult the process actually is. There are days where I fall victim to the occasional social media stalking. There are days I cry myself to sleep at night. There are many days where I have to catch myself from crying at my desk at work. The pain is real and that is okay. We can accept the pain and treat the pain with kindness and love. We can embrace the pain and use healthy tools like Mend to help us heal in the way.

Happy healing.

Mend: https://www.letsmend.com/

Elle Huerta: https://www.instagram.com/ellenhuerta/?hl=en

Not anyway sponsored by Mend…..I wish though =)

Opening Up

One of my favorite rappers is J.Cole. I have loved him since his mixtape days and his way with words just touches my soul. He also seems so real and authentic– I can’t explain it. Maybe it’s his hustle or his commitment to stay true to himself. He has had my heart since Friday Night Lights and he still does. He recently featured on a 6LACK song called “Pretty Little Fears”. The first part of his verse just touches my soul.

“I’m lovin’ your light, vulnerable
Lettin’ your guard down, it’s honorable
‘Specially when the past ain’t been that
Friendly to you but there’s magic in that”

The whole song is magical but, these lines just touch my soul. I think it is because I have always been scared of opening up to people. Instead of wearing my heart on my sleeve, I think I wear my toughness on my sleeve. I don’t let people in and I think I am almost proud of the fact on how long it takes me to open up to people. From now on, I really want to commit to opening up and being more vulnerable. I want to be more open to having fun, talking to random people, and being more easy with life. I don’t think it’s an honor to be closed off to the world or it’s some type of a bragging right. I think it shows weakness and fear. I don’t want to be weak or fearful. I want to jump. I want to be more open and forthcoming. I want to be seen although, even typing that makes me cringe. I tend to hide or be to myself as much as possible. I keep to my guard high up. Even when I am walking down the street, I cover myself under a jacket or something – a hideout from the world.

This year, I really want to be more open and vulnerable. I want to let people in and be more comfortable with living my life. Be more authentic and more free.

Here is to flying.

Alma.

 

Facebook is making me sad?

In this world and age, heartbreak goes alongside Facebook. We cannot talk about getting over a breakup without mentioning social media. Going through a fairly bad break-up and seeing my ex get engaged has been a whirlwind. One smart thing I did was that I deleted my Facebook. I was feeling great. I was moving on. I was feeling super zen. I was empathetic and even grateful . But, this weekend I made the mistake of logging back into my Facebook. Facebook was almost a trigger for me. Once I logged in, I went through the normal process of looking through my ex’s profile and people he’s close to. I saw something I didn’t like and the negative spiraling began again. I found myself feeling unworthy and going back into that phase that I worked so hard to avoid. I didn’t want to feel sad anymore. I didn’t want to relive the scenarios and think of “what ifs’” again. I just wanted to move on but, going back on Facebook intensified my negative feelings. It made me feel unworthy, sad and depressed again. It reinstated my negative though pattern and loop and I found myself going back to imagining my ex with his new significant other. It drove me crazy. This happened on a Sunday and last night after work, I felt the worst I have felt in awhile.

That Monday, I had gone to the gym, I ate properly, I worked, I applied to jobs, I read for 30 mins and practiced my gratitude. But, at night all my negative emotions came back rushing in. I found myself praying to God to make the pain go away. To make it a bit easier on me. I didn’t know where these emotions were coming from but, I can tie it back to logging into Facebook again. It started on Sunday and yesterday, it just got so much worse. The loop of negative feelings were back to when I first started my healing process.

I deleted my Facebook again and I am still working through feeling better. Like my post from yesterday says, progress is not linear. We cannot expect it to be. It requires constant effort and betterment. I am trying to do just that. It’s not easy but, I hope I will get there someday. I can’t wait till one day I look back on this and it becomes a faint memory that has helped me become a better and a stronger person.

 

 

Progress is not linear

As I go through time, I get the harsh reminder that progress is not linear. As much as we would like to think it is and as nice as it would be to keep progressing. Most times, we relapse. We go back to our old ways. We relive the pain we thought we had gotten over. A lot of times we mistake progress to be a systematic process. Once you feel like you’re “over” something – it shouldn’t be painful right? It should get easier and a bit better? I have been finding that it isn’t always the case. After going through a terrible heartbreak this past summer, I went through a moment of peace around the end of October. I felt good. I felt zen. I felt super proud of myself for being able to let go and see the other person happy….or I thought that was the case. Yesterday, I found myself going back to the painful place. I kept picturing this person happy and it tortured me. It made me feel horrible and helpless. I kept picturing them with their new person and it made me feel worthless. I kept reliving our memories and it made me feel heartbroken all over again.

I thought I was over these feelings so, why were they resurfacing? Why was the pain coming up again? Why was I moving backwards?

I don’t know the exact answer but, I think it has to do with progress not being linear. Sometimes we go back to our old ways because that is what we’re used to. Staying heartbroken is EASIER than working through the mess and getting better. Being broken allows us to create excuses for other areas in our life. We can justify our failure and blame it on our heartbreak. We can justify our lowly efforts and blame it in this other person. But, our life is our responsibility. We don’t get to show up at the end of life and have excuses. We have to work through our heartbreak. As messy and painful it is, we have to keep going. Sometimes, we will relapse and go back and that is okay. The goal is to keep making progress in some way. It doesn’t have to always be linear and forward. It can be messy and backwards. It can be opening and closing of the wound – as long as the end result is healing. We can keep going.

Alma.

identify your pain

I am currently reading a book by Thich Nhat Hanh titled “The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching – Transforming Suffering into Peace, Joy, and Liberation”. The title is a mouthful and I do not really know much about Buddhism. I am at the beginning of the book and one part of the book really struck me. The author writes that in order to heal, it is important to identify your pain. It is important for you to “diagnose” what is causing your pain similar to how a doctor would if you had physical pain in your body.

I think I am the type of person that wants to take a “healing pill” and get it over with. I don’t want to spend time identifying the pain nor talking about it. It would be much easier if I could just get over it and forget it. But, that is not how life works. It is important to recognize what is causing us pain to be able to heal from the pain. We cannot heal a physical imbalance without a proper diagnosis so, why do we expect to heal a spiritual or emotional imbalance without first learning about it? I am guessing it has to do with our egos. We don’t want to admit that we let this thing cause us pain so, we would rather ignore it and hope it magically heals itself and goes away.

So, consistent with my new ode to complete ownership and honesty – here is what is causing my pain: it is attachment to someone and it is the feeling of rejection. I feel rejected by someone and it hurts. There is no poetic way to phrase that sentence – it stings and that’s the truth. I am attached to someone and that attachment leads to to feeling rejected. The cycle is very ironic – I think the Buddha would enjoy this a little bit at least.

I encourage you to identify your pain. Only by identifying it, you can learn from it and begin to heal it. It isn’t going to be easy to admit it and maybe you’ll go through the pain all over again but, think of your doctor diagnosing you for a cold or a headache. Only after the diagnosis can he prescribe you with medication that will heal you. Only after recognizing your pain can you really take the true path of healing.

Alma,

journey to healing

The past few months of my life have been a blur. A blur created by me distracting myself through binging Netflix, YouTube, sleeping way too much, and occasionally drinking a bit too much. Why did this happen? This summer I went through my first official heartbreak. An adult heartbreak. End of a six year relationship heartbreak. A pain so intense that I didn’t expect it to impact me the way it has. I was always the girl that dismissed “heartbroken” people. I thought they were being overly dramatic. I mean there are bigger things in life (poverty, war, death, serial killers…etc). I thought people were weak to consider heartbreak a tragedy. I mean come on….there were worse pains in the world right? But, going through it – it has been one of the worst pains I have felt in my life. This summer I also lost my grandmother, who lived a very happy and a long life. I almost feel ashamed to admit this but, the heartbreak was more painful than death of my grandmother. I feel horrible just admitting that but, it is true. Heartbreak feels engulfing and the pain feels unbearable. It has been a few weeks and I haven’t felt overly sad because, I have numbed myself to the pain. We often think numbing equals drugs or alcohol but, it also is constant stimulation. I find myself being unable to be in silence. Every second of my day has to have a background noise of music, podcast, YouTube videos, the same Friends episode I have watched 1000 times, and other noise. I am unable to be alone even when I am by myself. Even when I shower, I find myself needing some noise in the background. It is almost like I am too scared to be alone with my thoughts and my feelings. Too scared to get the pain get to me.

 

I started this blog because I want to get better. I want to heal. I don’t want to be a victim of my heartbreak and I don’t want to use it as an excuse to ruin my life. I am not doing this for “revenge”. I actually don’t believe in getting “revenge” towards your ex. I don’t resent my ex nor do I have anything negative to say about him (more on that later). But, I want to do well because I owe it to myself. I don’t want to be sad person who used one unfortunate event in her life to create a life of excuses. I want to be better. I want to heal. I want to become successful and most importantly, I want to help others through my pain. All my life, I have been scared to open up. I get scared that if I open up, people will judge my flaws. Being vulnerable is so intimidating to me but, I am learning to be open and out there. To expose my wounds and myself to the world so, I can reach people.

 

I have learned a lot within these few weeks and I want to spend some time sharing those lessons here. I am not fully there yet and I am not perfect so, I don’t want to give advice. I just want to share my journey in getting better.

 

Happy healing.

 

Alma.