Conversations For Transformation: Essays Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

Conversations For Transformation

Essays By Laurence Platt

Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

And More

Let The Healing Begin

Cowboy Cottage, East Napa, California, USA

December 4, 2016

"The cost to me of not doing so. I'm unwilling to pay the cost of carrying a resentment (or whatever) around, so I draw on the intelligence of forgiving."
...   answering Laurence Platt's question "On what do you draw to forgive people who are hardest to forgive?" in Questions For A Friend II III (Straight Talk) 
This essay, Let The Healing Begin, is the sequel to Straight Talk.

I've made an inventory of people in my life before. The last time I made one, it was at Werner's suggestion. It was an inventory of people with whom I had a withhold  and / or a perpetration  - and possibly (in some cases) more than one of each.

From the Cambridge International Dictionary:


from the verb withhold
to refuse to give something or to keep back something

Also from the Cambridge International Dictionary:


from the verb perpetrate
to commit a crime or a violent or harmful act

The inventory was both extensive and exhaustive - not to mention worldwide. I tracked down everyone in it: by snail mail (it was before the days of e-mail) and by telephone (local, long-distance, and international). In the process I found out some people were no longer alive. That didn't stop me. You can communicate with anyone - dead or  alive (communicating with someone who is dead is a subject for another conversation on another occasion). I asked each person for permission to have a conversation with them. I 'fessed up to what I'd held back from them. I took responsibility for my harmful acts against them. I asked them to ask me anything and / or to tell me anything they wanted to ask me and / or to tell me, to get closure with ie to be complete with and forgive what I'd done. I answered every one of their questions truthfully. I got everything they told me unflinchingly. Whatever they told me was their truth. I did absolutely nothing to explain or defend my version.

It could be said you'll only know how much baggage you're carrying (ie it could be said you'll only know the full extent of the weight  of the baggage you're carrying) from the past, when you complete a process like this. You'll know how much baggage you were carrying because of the lightness  you'll experience when it disappears. That's a 1,000% certainty. When you 'fess up to your withholds and perpetrations to the people with whom you have withholds and perpetrations, baggage from the past completes and disappears. There's a new lightness. You won't need convincing this process works. You'll know. It's like an elephant has crawled off your back.

Recently I made another inventory of a different group of people in my life, this time of my own volition. It was much shorter than the first. It was an inventory of people I hadn't forgiven. The process of communicating with the people with whom I had withholds and / or perpetrations was much easier in retrospect. In it, I had to 'fess up to something I'd not 'fessed up to before and / or take responsibility for something I'd not taken responsibility for before. With this new inventory, I had to give  up something I'd not given up before. In many cases, what I had to give up was being a victim. I had to reach around behind myself (so to speak) and pluck the arrows out of my back (if you will) or out of my heart, as the case may be.

Although giving up something is often harder than 'fessing up to something, I knew going in to forgive the people I hadn't forgiven, that they had upset me in a way I'd been upset before. What does that mean Laurence? It's liberating. It means you're never really upset with the person (or people) you're upset with: rather, you're upset with whomever the person (or people) you're upset with reminds you of. That's vintage Erhard, by the way. And it's a powerful platform on which to stand when you're forgiving people. It allows you to own  something that maybe wasn't fully own-able before. To forgive, you must first be willing to own.

If there's a definition of forgiving which I think is worth something, it's Werner's "To forgive is to give up the right to resent and / or to give up the right to punish". This implies when I forgive, it's a gift. And it's really only secondarily my gift to whomever I forgive. Primarily (and unavoidably) it's my gift to myself. How so? Here's something I love that Nelson Mandela was fond of saying about resenting (and resenting is really the withholding of forgiving, yes?). He said "Resenting is like taking poison, hoping the other  guy will die.". When I forgive someone ie when I give up resenting someone, I stop poisoning myself / I heal - clearly the intelligent choice.

I began contacting the people in my second inventory. Between you and me, I was really, really  relieved I'd finally begun the process (I always knew not forgiving never did me any good - but that said, the truth is I remained stuck and didn't forgive). I told them I was no longer willing to not be fully present to them ie no longer willing to not be fully present as my love for them. I said I didn't want an explanation or an apology from them, indeed neither of those was expected on my agenda.

What became clear to me as the process unfolded, is my gift of forgiving / healing may or may not  be accepted. If it wasn't accepted (and on one or two occasions, it wasn't), I let that go - and was happy to let it go. Listen: it's quite obvious that resenting people for not accepting your gift of forgiving / healing would be (shall we say) stoopid. An authentic gift is offered without regard to whether or not it will be accepted. Forgiving (at first, and at least) is a gift. And when I forgive (at first, and at least), I'm a beneficiary of the gift too, regardless of whether or not it's accepted by whom I forgive. That's the magic of forgiving. The gift of healing. Both ways.

Let the healing begin.

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