“Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive others their trespasses.” Matthew 6:12

I remember when I first started to seriously forgive people with whom I had a difficult relationship. I thought forgiving them would end something. It didn’t. It started something (I wish I’d been warned). I thought forgiveness was a way to pull a bandaid off, revealing the healing wound underneath (warning: if you’re squeamish, this next part may be icky but it’s what I’ve got). But it was more like draining a cyst (I’ve done that a couple of times) and then the doctor packs the emptied hole and you have to keep getting that changed for up to a month while the wound heals from the bottom up, from the inside out.

That’s what forgiveness starts: A process of healing you from within yourself. Surprisingly little to do with the other person, actually. It’s not about justice or lack of; it’s about masochism. By forgiving the other person (or even yourself), you’re basically no longer hurting yourself. The other person already hurt you. They hurt you that time. You may or may not have gotten justice or an apology for that hurt. The thing is, it’s in the past, but every time you think about it and react to it. you hurt yourself. So instead of that other person having hurt you badly that time back in May of 2006, here you are, 13 years later, still seething about it. The other person doesn’t even know!

See how useless that is? See why forgiveness sets you free? Because that’s what it’s doing. It’s letting you off the hook, not the other person. It’s putting the past where it belongs: In the past.

I’ve mentioned ho’oponopono a few times. I come back to it because it is so easy. You don’t have to know what’s bothering you, you don’t have to know what’s stuck, you don’t have to know anything. These four deceptively simple sentences do a lot of work for you. Just keep repeating and repeating and repeating (in any order you want):

I love you
I’m sorry
Please forgive me
Thank you

Any time a thought that isn’t the most supportive crosses your mind, do ho’oponopono. (I really need to remember to take my own advice.) Or fudge and play Jasons Stephenson’s wonderful track on repeat (I go to sleep to this).

Just let your wounds heal.

Another battle

Obviously, something deep in my subconscious wants to imitate Nedry’s lock screen in “Jurassic Park”, doing his finger-wagging “Ah-ah-ah”.

I had bronchitis in February. Was out sick for two weeks.

Bronchitis was something I had a lot as a kid. Usually when the bullying over time finally got to me, my body would react with bronchitis. When I finally recovered, I blogged, intending to keep blogging. But I lost my routines, my momentum while sick and it took me until the end of March to get it back.

That’s when I hurt a knee, just standing with a very straight leg on my living room floor. Sheesh.

Got my PC from work delivered home because brain works, but dang, if this knee stuff isn’t darned distracting!

After a week at home, a friend shopped for me and showed me a good exercise for knees. Can’t overdo it, though. Can’t do the steepest hill between my place and the office so have been taking the bus to work.

It’s like everything just says “Ah-ah-ah” and I realize there’s something deep inside me I’m not addressing or even aware of. Time to go in deep and see if I can find it. And heal it.

I have always had a copy of Louise Hay’s “You Can Heal Your Life” and all the affirmations for all the ills. Bronchitis: The family is fighting. Knees: Stubborn ego and pride. So peace and harmony and forgiveness.

I think the bronchitis is a matter of feeling safe with the ones around me. Weirdly, I had it last year, too, at about the same time. I sure hope it’s not going to become a tradition!

But the knees… They’re about fear and the solution is forgiveness and compassion.

In a discussion with friends, we were talking about how forgiveness is the one thing that heals everything. I said something about being done forgiving others; now it was about forgiving myself.

But I wonder…

I may have peeled so many layers off the onion that is all me and my experiences that I’ve found fresh stuff to forgive, and it may involve others, after all. Some little remnant is left, like not quite emptying the existing bottle of shampoo or sauce before opening a new one.

Time to stop this battle and dig into healing.

Apple blossom

Apple blossom

I feel good!

You can go find your copy of James Brown belting out "I feel good" if you want. My version is more low-key and without the groovy dance moves, but I do feel good. I like to thank ho'oponopono for that. So I'm going to talk about it again. I broke my own heart this past December. I visited my mother in Nevada and we had no fights, no snark, no desire to avoid each other. Decades of being dysfunctional were over. At one point, we sat at her dining room table, talking about my screwed up great-grandmother who managed to ruin three generations of daughters. Mom and I were now talking about how each of us had found a path that led us to healing and forgiveness, and that we now, finally, were the first mother-daughter pair that got along and had no issues. And it suddenly hit me that that is exactly what we had done: We reversed the habits of a dysfunctional family legacy. We grabbed each other's hand and said triumphantly, "We made it!" The love that had always been there found its voice, and was no longer drowned out by fighting and fears. So when it came time to say goodbye and go back to Norway, I really, really, really didn't want to.

I still try to convince myself that the pain of leaving someone you want to be with is better than the pain of being forced to be with someone you don't want to be with, but I'm not sure. This new pain hits me deeper. Still, it is now the only pain I experience, and that is definitely a desirable situation to be in.

Mom showing signage she designed

Mom showing signage she designed

My grandma told me that when I was a toddler, I happily walked up to people, to complete strangers, all smiles and trust. I have often thought about that person I used to be, and wanted to be her again. Well, I am her now. I have realized that I am no longer afraid of being approached by strangers. I don't have that "whadya want and what's it gonna cost me" skepticism any more. I don't expect trouble, and I don't expect sacrifice. And I don't get either.

I do believe practicing ho'oponopono as well as other spiritual practices are at the heart of this new—or is it original?—me. The practice has done as promised: It has helped heal and remove whatever's in my subconscious mind, tripping me up, letting me repeat past hurts. I now find it easier than before to think well of others and to expect the best.

Now I can use this method to help others. That's actually what it does: By healing yourself you also help others heal.

Here is a short description of the ho'oponopono method. Simply say to yourself these four sentences together, in any order you want, any time you feel not good, whether it's a minor annoyance or a major upset: I love you. I'm sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you. Repeat until you feel something shift. Even if nothing's going on, say these four sentences. Don't be surprised if problems resolve themselves and new ones show up. It's peeling onion layers.

When interacting with others, a quick "insurance" is to say "I love you" or "Thank you" to yourself just before starting a conversation or responding to a question.

View of east side of Sierra Nevada mountains

View of east side of Sierra Nevada mountains

Other things that make me feel good: Knitting. I get ridiculously mellow seeing projects made out of wool in my Facebook feed. I think that's way better than liberal friends finding fault with conservatives or conservative friends finding fault with liberals, which Facebook is also full of. I hide those posts and just look at lovely patterns and colors worked by creative hands. That inspires me. Here's one of my projects:

My knitting project

My knitting project