When I was young and in grade school, I could not pronounce the letter R and saying my name Darcy came out as Docy and brought great laughter from my classmates and great humiliation. I withdrew into myself and stopped being myself before I ever knew who I was in life. I stopped raising my hand in class even though I knew the answers, and reading out loud was one of the most embarrassing things that could happen to me and it happened on a daily basis.
I figured if I just didn’t say anything or do anything in the class I could slip by and not be seen or heard. This didn’t work that well as my teachers tried to help me. But I didn’t see it that way when I was young.
My teachers sent me to Special Education classes which in those days was a little room at the end of the hall where the stupid kids went for help. I was in shock and disbelief. I was smart! I just didn’t like being made fun of! How dare they send me here, now everyone knew I was stupid…Those were my thoughts at the time and I also was sent to the same room for speech therapy to try and correct my speech.
Again they were trying to help me but I saw it as an assault on who I was, and not any help at all. The truth is that I had a learning disability, and I struggled with severe anxiety because of it. Everyday was a struggle for me. Spelling, grammar, reading, writing, the whole thing was so confusing to me. I saw all help as personal attacks on me and I really believed that I was stupid and I would never grasp anything that I was being taught.
I ended up failing grade 3 and I was devastated. Now I was really stupid having to repeat a grade. I lost all my friends as well. When you are young and in grade school sometimes your group of friends is all you have and young children can be the cruellest and meanest human beings on earth. I lost every friend I had when I failed that grade. I was even more humiliated as I still had to attend Special Education class and speech therapy class after I had failed. I allowed this to slowly pull me down and my self esteem was completely gone.
I struggled all through grade school, and each grade was more difficult for me as I managed to squeak by each year with grades that were just passing, never better than a 60% at any time. This was the way school was for me always, even when I was in college for music – the one thing that I was good at – I never had high grades and also managed to just make it through the program as well.
Education and school always brought out the worst in me. Anxiety, stress, and depression were just a way of life for me. When I decided that I had to let go of this part of my past, it was very hard for me. But I had to look at it in a new way, a way that made me realize that back in those early days, my beginnings were a sign of my strength and resilience.
I had to let go of my old way of thinking about myself and replace those old negative thoughts with positive ones and not only that but I also had to forgive myself, not hold resentment for who I was back then.
I was a 9 year old boy in grade school and I never knew better, I just did what I had to do to survive and that had to be seen because it is very important.
As much as I didn’t want to, I had to see it, I had to accept it and own it. Forgive myself and also love myself.
Forgiveness is the greatest gift you can give yourself, and it is so powerful!
I forgave my little 9 year old me, and I gave him permission to not be stressed out anymore. I gave him permission to not struggle with anxiety, be free from the things that were holding him back, keeping him trapped in the past. I gave myself permission to be a 9 year old boy who had no way of dealing with what was happening to him. I gave myself the joy of being 9 years old, everything that went along with it, a free mind, a bright outlook, I gave myself the gift of letting it all go.
I was able to do this because I was able to see myself still as that little boy and it was terrifying that at the age of 47 I was holding so much hate, so much anger, so much humiliation. It would come through in so many ways in my life. Whenever I faced rejection in life, I was that 9 year old boy. Whenever I slipped up with my speech, I was that 9 year old boy. If I did something wrong in my life, I was that 9 year old boy, so I had to learn what forgiveness was, and believe it.
I was always very good in therapy, saying the right things, doing the right things, writing the right things and Mastora would always say “That is great Darcy but do you believe it… because you are extremely smart and you are a great writer and teacher! You will always say the right things but never believe them!”
She was right, I would always say the right things and never hold them up high in my life. Never truly believing them or in myself. So, I had to learn to forgive myself and it was hard, very hard. Here is the thing about forgiveness, you have to do it for yourself and no one else, because at the end of the day it is your mind that is not at rest, never the other people’s minds. Sometimes the other people have moved on and what you think was a big deal was nothing at all to them.
I had to figure out how to forgive, to break down the things in my life that were hurting me and still there from my childhood. I came up with a way of forgiving so I would believe it and truly let go.
Learning to Forgive
Learning to forgive is all about self love! I never thought about it that way until I was taught what it really meant to forgive and experienced it first hand in my life.
To forgive means taking the time to look at the situation that happened to you with honesty, truly feeling it and truly acknowledging the impact it has had in your life.
I had to look back at grade school and had to really come clean about it. I was a little 9 year old boy, just still new to the world, new to school, I was growing and learning and I needed help but I didn’t accept it and I fought against it. I saw everything that was being offered to me as an assault on me. I withdrew and allowed my feelings and thoughts to control and change me.
The emotional and physical responses I experienced because of this time in my life were huge and I had to acknowledging what impact it is having on me now as an adult. I had to do this before I could move forward and forgive and heal.
My physical responses:
If I was every faced with rejection or failed at something in life I would go flush, my head would get hot, my heart would race and pound in my chest. I would stiffen up, I would physically collapse into myself try to disappear, make myself really small. I would clench my teeth and my hands would sweat. These reactions were all clues and I never paid attention to them before. Not only that but if I thought about the past and what had happened to me, I would also still have the same reactions. Still present in my life, and still so strong as if it were happening to me now.
My emotional responses:
I would start my negative self talk, feel sorry for myself and think the world is against me.
I am stupid.
I will never fit in.
I will never be successful.
I am worthless.
I will never be like other people.
These negative thoughts would always be sitting in the back of my mind at all times and they would jump into action and feel real to me even when they were totally false.
The impact it is having on me now:
When I am faced with any rejection in my life, I mentally go back to that time where I withdrew and I think to myself that I am never going to be smart enough, I will never fit in and the world is always against me. I believed this fully 100%, my past thoughts haunting me at 47- and it was all a lie.
It was not true! I could cope now that I had many tools from therapy and I could see the world in different ways. I was good enough to fit in and even if I didn’t, I saw strength in that! I saw strength in being a unique individual who didn’t fit in but stood out.
I had accomplish many things in my life. Hell, I wrote 3 books and was teaching classes 2 to 3 nights a week! I wasn’t that little boy still stuck in the past and not able to cope. I had positive proof now and I didn’t have to listen to my old thoughts anymore! I was ready to not only forgive my 9 year old self but I was also ready to love him! Praise him! He survived and was thriving now!
I finally decide to forgive myself. I had to say it out loud and then I wrote it in my journal. Then I truly forgave.
I forgive my 9 year old self; he did what he had to do at that time in his life. He was just a little boy and knew no better, he was overwhelmed with emotion and had no way of dealing with it but he survived and I love him! I love him (me) for how far I have come and also for how strong he (my 9 year old self) truly was when I think of him now.
Now I had to understand what it really means to forgive, because people don’t understand. I didn’t understand until I learned better.
I now could not fall back to that place in my life, I could no longer give it the power it once had over me. I forgave and moved on. I replaced those negative thoughts and those negative emotions with love and kindness. And it felt good.
Now when I was faced with a rejection in my life, I could look at it and say that I am a survivor and I have proof! That 9 year old was a strong and resilient guy and I am now even stronger then I was then! And it’s all because of my past, of my beginning.
Forgiving myself was an act of love and it gave me so much power over my future. I am now able to smile when I fail at something, because at least I tried something I had never done before! I am now able laugh when I am wrong, because I now have a different point of view that I never had before! I also have a new confidence in myself that I never had before as well! I myself never thought forgiveness would work that way at all, so it is truly amazing.
Forgiving Someone in Your Life
Forgiving someone doesn’t mean you go to them and say I forgive you; it doesn’t mean that you are now back to being friends with this person and everything is fine. It means that you forgive them in your mind, body and soul. To forgive is an act of love and kindness you give yourself and no one else.
So now we have to learn to forgive other people as well, and not just ourselves. When you do this, it allows you to stop wasting your energy and your emotions on that person, and it enables you to use that energy to feel good about yourself. Let that event pass, let the emotions fade away and you are free to move on. Become the person you are meant to be. You take the power back. It is always easier said or written than done, right?
Learning to forgive other people is a hard and painful thing to do. It is so hard because someone else hurt you and now you have to let it go and move on. This is difficult for us because that person did this to you and made you a victim, they hurt you and now you are changed. This is all true but allowing them the power to control you over a long period of time is wrong and not good for your mind. You can take the power back and you can forgive them and use it as a lesson that you can hold. You are the winner as the outcome is now in your hands.
I like to reason it out almost like a thought record. I like to write down what happened, my reactions physically and emotionally, how I truly felt about it, and how I am still letting it affect me now even though the event is long passed. I then look at the situation for what it truly is, because in almost every case the person who hurt me is always the person who actually needs help, or is uneducated, ill-informed and doesn’t know any better. Or they are hurt themselves and are lashing out because they don’t have the tools to properly cope.
Do you know that old saying “You always hurt the ones you love”? WHY? Because you can. A stranger would just walk away and have nothing to do with the person or even engage with them, but because you know them, are friends with them or are a family member, you are the one who gets hurt… and it stinks.
I then really acknowledge the emotions I am feeling after I do this and write about how their actions have changed me. Then I am ready to forgive, because it has no power over me at all anymore. Once I forgive them I write about how I feel, and afterwards I have finally let it go and forgiven. I celebrate my new feelings and give them the time they deserve. I then set a boundary because now I am looking after myself and my well being and I learned from that experience.
I write “I will not allow this to happen to me again with this person because I have learned from it and I have forgiven. So now I will set this boundary as an act of love for myself because I am smart and I learn from my past and I move forward.” I will stick to whatever boundary I set and always think of it as an act of love towards myself, never an act against the other person because sometimes we do that to punish others instead of focusing on healing ourselves.
We say to ourselves it is selfish to do this, or I am being a bad person etc… but we are not, we are looking after our mental health and setting a boundary because we know what happens when we don’t and we don’t want to get hurt again. After I have forgiven, I feel proud, strong, happy and filled with calm. I feel good about who I am. I looked at the situation, I reasoned it out, I forgave the person, I set a boundary, and put a positive end to the whole thing.
Forgiving is a very personal experience that we give to ourselves as a gift so that we can move forward in life and truly, truly grow as people. What is in the past is in the past and we have to move forward because living in the past puts us on a path of never growing and even worse, living in a depressed or anxious state. It is not healthy to carry old emotions like hate, guilt, or regret with us through our lives. It is healthy to forgive, move forward, love who you are and become who you are meant to be! Always think of it as a gift to yourself because you have to live life to its fullest. We are only here for a short time and only have this singular life to live so forgive and do it for yourself. To forgive is divine!
The power of forgiveness became a major part of my life after I learned what it truly was and I often will think of ways I can now forgive people in my life and let things go completely. Throughout this book, the act of forgiveness will be a recurring theme.