My Story is a series where people with “differences” share their personal story or experiences to validate and inspire others.
We are so pleased to present Karen Scarpulla’s story of how she learned to forgive and change her life. Thank you, Karen, for sharing your inspiring story with us and encouraging others with your incredible story!
What is true forgiveness?
Forgiveness…we have heard the word a million times. But until recently, I never really understood just how powerful forgiveness can be.
In 2012, my ex-husband was diagnosed with Stage 4 esophageal and stomach cancer. Our contentious divorce 7 years earlier put us at odds with each other. Our children, ages 18 and 16, spent very little time with their father and barely knew him. It was clear to me that my children needed to reconnect with their father and hopefully heal any emotional scars they had. I made the bold decision to move my children and I into my ex-husband’s home and become his primary caregiver. Just ten months later, he passed away. The gift of time my children received was priceless, but the bigger gift was the one I received…the power of forgiveness.
During our ten months together, old family dynamics reemerged and I began to experience feelings of sadness, anger and grief. I tried to convince myself that I had forgiven him. Certainly, I must have? How else could I possibly move in with him and make the decision to care for him? It wasn’t long before my emotions were running high and a glance in the mirror revealed that I had not forgiven. Stuffing your emotions inside and putting a happy face on is not forgiveness. I was desperate to stop all the negative feelings I was having because they were affecting me physically, so I developed my own process for forgiveness.
The first step in forgiveness begins with the burning desire to want to forgive. We have all had the experience of someone hurting us. That moment when someone does something to you that is so horrible, that violates your boundaries and shatters your perceptions. You are adamant that there is absolutely no way you will ever forgive him or her. Your story about what happened is complete justification. After all, how could you forgive someone who wounded you so deeply? The anger and resentment you feel is real, and your heart is broken. I know the feeling all too well…I have been there.
I describe forgiveness as the process of letting go of anger, bitterness, resentment, and the old movies that play in our minds and keep us from moving forward in our lives. Forgiveness is the ability to completely let go of the act that has created the pain.
You stop judging the offender and release yourself from the hurt. When you reach this state of true forgiveness, you will feel empowered. I have experienced forgiveness as not only an emotional state of being, but as a physical state, as well. There is nothing greater than freeing your self from the chains of hate and anger.
There is a misconception that forgiveness means reconciliation with the individual who has hurt you and the condoning of their actions. Forgiveness does not mean that you are rubber stamping or approving their behavior or offense. You are simply releasing yourself from the emotions tied to the event.
Forgiveness is also about finding your personal power. When you are victimized you loose your sense of power and feel stripped of the ability to move forward or make decisions. Only you can find your power again. The key is to stop giving your power to someone who doesn’t even realize they have it. The person who has harmed you has no idea that you are holding resentments and your emotions have absolutely no effect on their daily life. But your emotions are certainly affecting you. Once you take control of your emotions and begin replacing the negative movies with positive thoughts and feelings, you will begin to feel a shift in emotions.
The challenge is to create a new movie, one where you are the hero or heroine. You have made the bravest choice possible when you choose to forgive. This new movie has a happy ending with you conquering the villain and releasing the chains of anger. You walk through the movie with a spring in your step. You are a “rock-star.”
We are all important beings in the universe, and that makes every action we perform important. Imagine the impact we have when we forgive. There is a shift in your own energy, which ultimately impacts the universe’s energy. Join me in living a life of grace, gratitude and forgiveness. The power of forgiveness is within you.
Karen is the weekly producer and cohost of the internet radio show LAW OF ATTRACTION 2.0 – Spiritual Straight Talk with over 20,000 listeners nationwide. She is currently working on her second book which will help families cope with grief. She will also begin conducting workshops this fall in the California Bay Area. Please visit her web site WalkingBeyond.com
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