Updated: Mar 16
One day, I had been reading some of my past journal entries and I came upon one written this fall about a challenging, but moving experience, I had with learning how to let go of guilt. When I read it, I thought, this is a story that needs to be shared.
The experience I am about to relate is difficult for me to share, however, there was such a profound lesson I learned from this whole experience that I feel I need to write about it, even if some of it doesn’t exactly put me in the best light.
I had been struggling with guilty feelings over my recent decision to end my marriage of seven years. This had not been an easy decision for me to make and I agonized over it for a very, very long time; which caused me intense grief, confusion, misery, and exhaustion. I knew that I had finally come to a decision in my heart that was best for me in terms of my health - mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually; but it was not made without feeling very guilty knowing the hurt, anger and emotional turmoil my choice could potentially cause for my then spouse. It was the toughest thing I had to do, and I have to say, I never, ever saw me as being the person who would have that kind of courage to do what was right for me but would not be easy for another. Anyone who knows me well will know that I WAS the proverbial People Pleaser; always putting others first. This was not healthy for me nor for anyone else; that much and so much more I have learned. I learned how to accept all the lessons from the choices I made and I was willing to look hard at myself in the mirror and take responsibility for the things I did and said that created this difficult and painful chapter in my life. What I couldn’t reconcile was the guilt; it just kept resurfacing and along with it, I worried about the judgements people may make about me for having been the one to leave.
Then one day, I had a couple of troubling experiences which would later teach me about forgiving myself and letting go of guilt. (Parts of this experience I am about to relay may not have been handled best by me, but I did what I thought were the best decisions at the time)
I had arrived at work one day to be greeted by one of my bosses who told me to come see a visitor we had. We went out back of the warehouse and he showed me a little sparrow that had flown into the warehouse and injured himself. I could see by looking at the little birdie that something was definitely wrong with it - I wanted to know what we could do to help it. My boss said that there was nothing to do for it; it was going to die - that didn’t feel very good to me, I wanted to make it better, to save it. Another employee showed up and he too wanted to see if there was anything we could do to help the bird. He went to make a few phone calls to see if there was anyone who could help an injured bird. While he did so, I gave some Reiki energy to the bird hoping it would help. The employee came back to relay that nobody could help an injured bird. We decided to put it in a box and see if it would recover. After about an hour, I went back to check on the bird and could see it was really struggling. I couldn’t bear it but I didn’t know what else we could do. I came to the conclusion that my wanting to do whatever we could for the bird could actually have caused it more suffering. I felt horrible; I cried. Then somebody else at work offered to “take care” of the bird, which he did. The rest of the morning I felt so badly because I felt so helpless not knowing what was the best thing to have done in this situation.
In the early afternoon, I was returning to work from the bank and noticed a very injured pigeon at the entrance to our alleyway. It was flailing frantically around the ground. I hurried into work and said I needed help, there was another injured bird. My boss was exasperated with me and commented that we were not running a hospital for injured birds. He said they would take care of it; but nobody made any move to do anything. All I could think of was the trauma that bird was experiencing and I felt horrible. I said to myself, I’m the one who has to do something here; I’m the one who has to help this bird and end its suffering. I made the decision to end its life (I do not know to this day if this was the right decision either, but all I knew at the time was I couldn’t bear what it must be experiencing and that having been told earlier that nobody helps injured birds like this; I felt it was the only option). I’m not going to tell you how I did it; that is too hard for me to write; this is not something I was comfortable doing but I felt I had to muster up the courage to do what I believed was the best thing to do. With many tears, and sadness, I did it. It was traumatic.
By coincidence, I had a Reiki treatment for myself booked that afternoon (self-care is so important). I was still so distraught over the events of the day and relayed them to the Reiki practitioner. She received insight that suggested the birds were symbolism for what I was experiencing in my life. The guidance that came through was that I had made the right choice and that if I had a ceremony to say goodbye to the birds it would be helpful.
When I got home, I did just that. I lit a candle and started to say goodbye to the birds. What was interesting at that point is that the energy became very different, almost surreal and I felt like I was about to experience something special. While I was thinking about the events with the birds; I started to feel like I was saying goodbye to my marriage too. So much wisdom started to come in to me; how the first bird was symbolic of the past years of struggles within my marriage. It represented how I kept trying so hard, to the detriment of my wellbeing, to save my marriage; going for healings, counselling, trying online workshops, praying, journalling, etc…I just kept trying everything I could think of, even after many advised me it was no longer good for me to keep trying; I kept trying until I exhausted myself. I was making everything worse by not accepting the inevitable and causing myself so much unnecessary struggle and pain.
The second bird experience was symbolic of the ending of my marriage. It represented the final acceptance that ending my marriage was the kindest, most loving and courageous choice I could’ve made. It showed how I did what I never thought I could believe myself capable of doing; being courageous enough to do what I felt was for the greatest good. As all the parallels of these events came through to me; I started to feel a deep sense of peace. The whole outer world ceased to exist for those few moments as I was receiving the healing messages. I finally realized the significance and importance of what the experience of my marriage and the eventual ending of it meant to me and my life journey. I accepted that it had been (and my ex-husband had been) a great teacher; and I could see how the biggest struggles I had been through over the years, had helped me to find the strength within myself to learn the importance of self-love, self-respect and self-compassion. My priorities had always been about how do I help others, love others, do what is best for others - to the extreme by neglecting my own needs and wants; sacrificing my true self, and putting myself last. I learned I was responsible for me and that my experiences were a direct result of the lack of love, respect and care I had for myself. The real shift had happened when I started to learn that if I could show myself love and care; I would then be able to reflect the same to the outer world. In turn I would receive love and care from others. I saw how the strength of my spirit, through self-love, had overcome my fears of leaving and enabled me to free myself from my struggles.
With those realizations being shown to me; I knew it was time to forgive myself for my choices and decisions; I did the best I could in my marriage, and with the birdie experiences, with what I knew at the time; when I know better, I do better. I let the guilt go - I said goodbye to the souls of the birdies and thanked them for their sacrifice to help me receive my healing. I was grateful for the gift of such a powerful healing. I felt that at the same time, I was also saying goodbye to my ex on a soul level and I thanked his soul for what he had to be and do in this human experience in order for me to learn my life lessons: lessons of self-love and self-respect; learning to be my true self and not what others want me to be, or even what I perceive others want me to be; lessons of taking back my power and integrity, and lessons of being true to myself. Finally, I say goodbye to the old me, the People Pleaser, the doormat, the meek one who would give over control so willingly to others and the one who struggled to believe in herself. I know I no longer have to keep the peace to feel secure or feel afraid to speak up. No more walking on eggshells or compromising myself for anyone. Lifelong patterns and beliefs could be changed! I realized what a gift I had given myself, by listening to my heart and soul and just letting go.
It was a profound day of healing.
Thank you for reading my story. This is new for me, sharing publicly and opening myself up to potential judgement and possible rejection. That is the risk I am willing to take as I am not afraid to show up and be seen; I can let go of my fears and be vulnerable by sharing. If there is anything within this story of my lessons that is of value to another, then not only have I learned from them, but maybe I’ve helped another with a challenge they are experiencing.
Freedom is Letting Go.