You may take issue with what I’m about to say, and, fair enough, there’s potentially a lot to challenge. But an incredible thing happened yesterday and, since its grateful Friday, I want to share.
My closest former colleague from my government days and I were texting – as we do daily (he’s amazing at keeping in touch). He asked if I’d been skating on the lake and I asked if he’d been to the rink in DC.
Years ago I’d spent a lovely Saturday skating there with a colleague followed by an early dinner nearby.
We’d talked about a death of another colleague – a close friend of his and many of our friends. She’d been fatally burned while doing aid work in Afghanistan.
We talked about the Midwest and classical music, the college we both went to, and our future plans. We made a pact to be friends and never more.
It was a good day.
This may not seem like a remarkable memory to you, but it filled me with an incredible sense of peace, which is surprising.
Because a year later that same colleague raped me in an apartment in Prague, which set in motion the long unraveling of both of our illustrious careers.
That night in the Czech Republic turned DC overnight from my home into a danger zone of bad memories and full-fledged PTSD. Everywhere I went was like watching a movie backwards where you see with prophetic foresight how all the events of the past led up to that one catalytic moment.
But I don’t want to get in to all that now.
Today I want to marvel at the simple beauty and power of time and distance.
That for a glorious moment on an average Thursday morning in Upstate NY, I had to search the recesses of my mind for his last name.
That I remembered his smile and voice without shuddering with nausea.
That I felt a wave of gentle affection for an old friend and momentarily nothing more.
This is what forgiveness feels like. A warm memory.
A glimpse of compassion for the pain he felt over losing his friend. For who he was and who he would turn out to be.
I have yet to shine the light of that forgiveness on myself. Sometimes releasing others from your burden is easier than facing the anger staring back at you in the mirror.
But now I know that it is coming.
I know that my own redemption is around the corner. Because if time can change his memory back into the boy who took me skating, then time can surely help me mend the holes I keep falling through.
And for that – for a text, for a moment, for a memory, I am grateful.
Whatever demons plague your mind and haunt your spirit, may they slowly fade from you as well. Because the longer we hold onto them – the longer we allow ourselves to bring the past continually forward into our present – the longer we hold ourselves back from the feelings of love, joy, and hope we deserve to feel right now.
You deserve to live unencumbered by someone else’s beliefs about your worth and value.
You deserve to feel the freedom and charge that comes from stepping vulnerably beyond your own self-limiting definitions and into your most powerful self.
And you deserve the quiet moments of deep peace and knowing contentment that you are fully whole and enough, just as you are.
May your experiences bring you the gift of awakening and your memories the gift of forgiveness.
Be free. Be brave. Be YOU!