The more we forgive the past, the more we open our hearts in loving compassion. In forgiving anyone or anything, we dissolve the past and sever any negative energy to the person or process. Forgiveness allows us to let go of the emotional attachment we have and with the positive energy that returns to us, we create space in our heart to love.
This hit home for me recently when I was finally able to put my mother’s disappearance to rest. After finding a marriage certificate that placed my mother in Cleveland in 1968, my friend Michael and I continued the search for her with new information in hand. We tried exploring military records, but could only search so far because the facility where her records were kept had had a fire and her records were destroyed.
We also found that her mental health records at the psychiatric institution where she had been a patient had been sealed by the state of Pennsylvania when the facility closed. Sadly, both leads seemed like dead ends.
Instead of giving up on what seemed like a cold case, Michael started googling different spellings of my mother’s last names. Unexpectedly, he got a hit on a misspelling of my mother’s married name while with my father Skagal instead of Skacal. This led him to a link to a military cemetery at Ft. Hood, Colorado. Following up on this lead, Michael found a picture of a grave marker which bore the same first name and middle initial, birthdate, enlistment date, and military rank.
Michael immediately called me and invited me to his house excited, yet, skeptical about his discovery. When I looked at the print out of the grave marker, I knew it had to be her. All the information lined up and I had this strong intuition that we had found her. Yet, I felt mixed emotions when I first saw the death date of November 4, 1969 inscribed on the head stone. There was an immediate sadness that came over me like a door being slammed shut. I realized I would never see her again or be able to ask the questions that always haunted me. Most of all, I felt relief that the reason we hadn’t been reunited was because she had been dead all these years.
Anticipating what I already knew, I called the social security office to verify the information we had just discovered. As I explained my situation to the young female agent who answered the phone, she agreed to help me even though they aren’t supposed to give out such information. With each piece of information I
shared with her, she confirmed them all. This was definitely my mother.
What followed for me were tears of love instead of resentment, anger, or hurt. Feeling at peace, I knew that the work I had done to forgive her had freed me from any negative charge or disappointment. Thus, experiencing myself in a positive light, made it easier for me to love myself, allow love in, and feel spiritually connected. This brought me into a state of grace of accepting what was and forgiving what wasn’t. For the first time, I am complete with our relationship and the purpose it has served in my life.
Co-dependent patterns often lure us into a parade of superficial relationships, emotional crutches we use to avoid our feelings of lovelessness and insecurity. We look for love and security outside of ourselves and in intimate relationships to distract us from feelings of spiritual disconnection. Such unhealthy relationships woven of the co-dependent patterns of two people keeps them from developing a whole and complete relationship with themselves.
Our fear of spiritual disconnection is a universal experience. Painful feelings that we are unworthy of love occur early in life as a result of our disconnection with the divine source of who we are. Much of this disconnection stems from shame. In her ground-breaking research on shame, Brene Brown identifies shame as the “intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore, unworthy of love and belonging.” Throughout our lives, we hear shame messages and eventually repeat them to ourselves such as, “I am bad,” “I’m not good enough,” or “I’m not worthy of love.” This cloak of shame keeps us from being seen, heard and spiritually connected with ourselves and others.
Unfortunately, the human condition is beset by personal suffering rooted in our fear of being unworthy of love. We may hold it differently from previous generations, but suffering still occurs as part of our collective human consciousness. We may even be addicted to the negative patterns of struggle and suffering, which only diminish our ability to create and sustain healthy relationships. In their extreme form, these patterns contribute to an identity structure such as caretaker, victim, or survivor.
This core belief of “I’m unworthy of love” erodes our sense of wholeness and prevents us from experiencing pure love and connection with ourselves and others. As a result, we numb our bodies, close down our hearts, and disconnect from our spirits. Most of all, we live in fear, insecurity, and shame because we think if anyone really saw us, they would not want or love us. So, we hide, resist and distract ourselves from our vulnerable pain of feeling unlovable.
Self-destructive patterns of co-dependency occur when we abandon personal responsibility and expect others to fill the void of love inside us. Displacing our need for love and connection onto someone else, we substitute a physical and emotional dependence for a spiritual connection. Then, feeling disconnected from ourselves and our source, we float through life waiting for someone else to define our purpose, give our life meaning and fulfill our insatiable addiction to love. We project this fantasy by shifting the responsibility for manifesting the real-life version onto someone else. Expecting someone to fulfill our dreams, we dismiss the power we have to create them for ourselves and then wonder why we feel perpetually disappointed and disconnected in our life. But eventually we have to discover that no relationship ever rescues us; we have to rescue ourselves.
Relationships in which neither person takes full responsibility for being loving and expressing love will perpetuate these co-dependent patterns. When we fail to satisfy our own need for love, it results in no one’s needs ever being fully satisfied. Instead of asking for or manifesting what we want, we become masterful at tolerating mediocrity in our relationships. Then, due to our patterns of needing to fix the other person or be fixed, we drain the life force out of the relationship.
Our longing for love and connection makes us susceptible to holding on and staying in unhealthy relationships. We all want to fall in love because in love we feel complete and not alone. To love and be connected is magical. However, we often become blinded by physical attraction and confuse this with unconditional loving and connected relationships with lifelong spiritual companions. The foundation for cultivating soul-connected loving relationships begins loving and opening up a deep spiritual connection to ourselves.