By Rae Dylan
One of my favorite quotes of all time came from a line Woody Harrelson said in one of his older films:
“Now I know that the things people in love do to each other they remember, and if they stay together, it’s not because they forget, it’s because they forgive.”
It hit me many years into a long career working in recovery that forgiveness is paramount to pursue a healthy life. It seems without this we are lost, always looking to change what once happened. Thinking back on things we’ve said and done, moments of regret in relationships, missed connections, broken friendships, all drive us to flee the reality that we could have done things differently. But more so that we don’t really know who we are or what we’re running from.
It takes so long for the truth to arrive. But when it does, we start to see how our feelings or emotions activated a world of decision in us. It no longer holds power and now we see that perhaps we could have been easier on ourselves and others. This feeling leaves us wondering how we could have changed the shape of our resentments and the hurt that made us feel we should run far and wide from being vulnerable.
I like to suggest my clients make small adjustments toward truth and forgiveness each day, either through the work they’ve achieved to forgive and overcome deep resentments they may have harbored for a long time, such as trouble getting through the fourth or fifth step in their program or being consciously aware of not getting over those who’ve hurt them, such as past or present bosses, their parents or their siblings.
Another idea is taking a good, hard look at yourself, your actions and how they impact your self-esteem, personal relationships and life direction — often through unconscious facial expressions that exude resentment and negativity instead of showing a more positive persona wherever the world takes us. In other words, are we meeting people with an already, built-in resentful look or image, or are we showing a more open positive side that attracts us to others and vice-versa.
The smallest action can change the direction of our thoughts and our perceptions. Thinking and feeling responses come from different sides of the brain, which is why we often question what we think vs what we feel. As we learn to think differently about our feelings and change our perceptions, that is what we need to thrive and grow. A big part of moving forward is to look at things with a clear vision and understand the importance and desperation we must find in ourselves to forgive.
Forgiveness is the best face cream on the planet. It brings the senses from the inside out and reflects in the face and onto the skin. When one can see others shining back at them, others can be more approachable as they’re no longer in fear. They can present themselves just as they are – detached from the insecurities separating us all.
We achieve self-esteem by doing “estimable acts” – a very common phrase with many of my clients. We’re often reluctant and impatient when standing in long lines at the DMV, the post office or a place we have to wait longer than we wish. But slow and frustrating experiences can turn positive by showing appreciation – perhaps by bringing a thoughtful gift to attendants or customer service reps waiting on us, or by practicing patience and smiling. Sometimes we need to repeat that exercise to realize the fruits of our labor.
Forgiveness – taking care of ourselves so we can meet others with an open heart, without judgment, ready to have an authentic interaction. It takes courage and persistence to look within and challenge ourselves each day to bring something into our small place in the world. If we learn to forgive what shaped our fears, we can be brave and stand tall when things around us seem uncertain. That is the mark of a spiritual warrior- one who is open to forgive because they know that’s the key to healing the soul and healing others.
Today we all face a new set of life challenges. In the early part of spring this ring around the sun, 2020 brought on more than anyone could have imagined. The effect of an unknown infection that spread like a rapidly growing brush fire, ramped through the entire world all at once. Not only would it take over our physical bodies, but it would rapidly cause everything around us to fall like a long chain of wooden dominoes right before us. Loss of an insurmountable magnitude would not only separate us from our lives, but also take us far apart from one another.
Suddenly we are faced with uncertainty about our health, work, finances, families and the very fabric of our society. Everything we counted on became the very thing that we could no longer rely on. In what seemed straight out of a sci -fi movie, it all progressed to become the ‘new normal’- a term worse than it sounds. The unexpected has taken us by surprise as we start to change in this world from the inside out. We face circumstances to fight for what we never thought would happen in an age of technology, promise, and equality. We must look at the destruction and fear marching through our hearts and streets to come to a place of palpable change. Through forgiveness, we can progress forward as one human race, realizing the color of one’s skin should be celebrated and not feared or questioned with suspicion for being different. We must forgive so we can move forward stronger and more resiliently than ever and stay connected by our humanity.
The world needs forgiveness and no matter who you are, what you look like or what you struggle with – addiction, loneliness, racism, illness or fear — time is spent vacillating around loss and love with some of following questions that come to mind: What could we’ve done differently to show others how much we truly loved and all that we wished we would have had the strength to pursue letting go of fear? Can we bring our own truth to forgive all we wish we would have seen differently and to take a minute longer to say we loved deeply and that we were not afraid to forgive? Now where is that under eye cream?
About Rae Dylan
Rae Dylan is a recovery professional who specializes in life coaching, counseling, intervention, sober coaching, and sober companionship. She studied communications and psychology at the University of Colorado Springs and is a former international flight attendant, model, and actress, before ultimately realizing her gift – helping those struggling with addiction, dependency and self-destructive behavior.
Since 2003 her recovery work has focused on individuals suffering from drug and alcohol addiction, eating disorders, and mental illness.
A wide range of clients from different economic backgrounds include families and young adults to business professionals and celebrities who look to Rae to get the utmost privacy, respect, dignity, anonymity and most importantly, authentic heartfelt companionship during their often long, challenging road to recovery from drug and alcohol addiction.
Dylan focuses her treatment on “inspiring positive change and maintaining healthy relationships through stable lifestyle choices building self-esteem, and purpose in life.” She performs interventions, can be a “sober companion” and intensive sober coach. She works with physicians, psychiatrists, rehabilitation facilities, outpatient facilities, and 12-step programs to coordinate recovery programs based on individual needs.
Rae Dylan says that emotional pain is at the core of most addiction. “Dealing with emotional pain is a life-long practice, whether the hardships we experience in life are abuse, addiction, divorce, death, financial hardship, mental illness, or grief. Once we have an awareness that we are in pain and have suffering going on, we can start to navigate the emotional pitfalls and what we are going to do to get through it.”