Getting to peace is a rocky road. Or a circuitous one at least. I’ve learned, and relearned, in the last few weeks that you don’t get to peace without gratitude, and you don’t get to gratitude without forgiveness.
In all this thinking about forgiveness there were the usual suspects of course. Parents, ex-husband, ex-boyfriends, friendships that were too conditional etc. etc. But the light went on for the first time I think, that I needed most of all to forgive myself. And to realize that not to do so is just so much unnecessary work.
I started this painting of my mother a while ago. What a tough slug it has been. But I think I got over the hump today. It got to a certain point where I am past the struggle of it. It started as a way to honor her, but ended up being so much to process. I fought with myself every time I tried to continue on it. And I know it’s because there is so much unsaid in my relationship with her. It’s no accident that I chose a picture of her where she is walking away. She passed away six years ago, and the opportunity for conversation is gone.
But I have been walking in this forgiveness thing since the realization came, just a couple of weeks ago. And it’s amazing how often I have to tell myself that I forgive me. Now, instead of going down the rabbit hole, I stop and tell myself that I’m forgiven, whatever it may be that needed it.
You can’t fix everything. Because other people are involved. They make decisions that you can’t change. They do things you can’t stop. Instead, why not just forgive them and let them go? And what incredible wind in my sails it is to forgive them and myself and feel relieved of a burden that was never mine in the first place.
I am relieved of having to fix everything, of having to be everything to everybody, and of having to rewrite the past. It really lifts a heavy load off the shoulders. And helps to radically change perspective. Instead of dwelling on the past, I see the present in all its possibility, and the future looks bright.
Once forgiveness becomes a habit, the door opens to gratitude. It’s easier to see what I can be grateful for. It’s easier to notice all the myriad of things in a single day even, that I can be thankful for. The smallest things are a gift. And I am knee-deep all day long in gift after gift.
And I’ve been thinking too, when the right man comes along, I want that relationship most of all to look like gratitude. I want to know that we are grateful for one another. That we are both thankful the other person came along and agreed to stay. A home filled with acceptance and love. I realize I have that now. How great it will be to share it with someone else.
So, as I finish this painting of Mom, I sense that it is a window and a door. A window to a whole new way of seeing. And the last door to close before moving completely forward. It’s amazing to me how often my art has said so much more to me than I set out to say. It is really a dialogue between me and the canvas. And how wonderful it is if you just try to stay a little open, there are all sorts of things trying to say the most beautiful things to you. You learn a little, you grow a bit, and you put one foot in front of the other. It doesn’t get better than that, because as I’ve heard, the journey really is the destination. And the destination is peaceful.