If a dog is standing at a fence barking, chances are it would do almost anything to get out of the yard and enjoy the freedom. This morning when I was out walking though, a dog was barking to get back in to a yard. It was a chilly morning, so perhaps the lure of a cosy cushion by the fire was even more enticing than the adventure of freedom that had come from a fence-jump in the night. Thankfully, the dog was heard and the gate opened. In it ran, wagging its tail, full of relief and gratitude.
Letting some people into your life is not always as easy as that though, despite it being clear that they want in as much as that dog wanted into the yard. If someone has hurt you repeatedly over time, a part of you naturally wants to build a fence or a wall to further protect yourself from the risk of more pain.
This coping mechanism comes from a place of hurt, often developed over years, based on belief systems that may no longer serve you well. Rather than putting yourself in the position to risk being exposed to similar behaviour, your efforts now go into keeping the person or people out. This can take a lot more energy than you realise.
While looking after dying people, one regret that surfaced regularly was wishing they had been more courageous in expressing themselves, wishing they had been more honest. As you find your bravery and practice honesty more often, you improve speaking this way, until it becomes easier and easier, a more natural extension of yourself.
What if, though, that honesty is expressed and you don’t receive the reaction you long for? This is when you realise that the release of expression was actually for your own healing, not necessarily also for the benefit of the other person. It can open healing on both sides and often does, but not always. You will never be able control another person’s reaction. For some, hearing such expression is too confronting. Speaking in detail about their past actions, particularly if they are ashamed of themselves and are yet to reach a place of self-forgiveness, is simply just too difficult.
On occasions too, some people genuinely do not understand just how much pain they have caused. In these cases your need for expression is often consuming, as you want them to know how much they hurt you. To make them accountable for their words or actions feels like it could ease your own pain. It takes a lot of compassion and courage to let go at such times and remember that it truly doesn’t matter in the end. Life is the best teacher. The person may not suffer through consciously knowing the pain they caused you, but any seeds sown in life reap their results in one way or another. You don’t need to be the vigilante and fix things. Life catches up on everyone.
Sorry is a huge word. It can mend years of pain in a brief moment. Hearing it can be the sweetest music ever. For a relationship that is ready for mature communication from both sides, honesty is the catalyst for much healing and for the magic of word of sorry to be spoken, sometimes from both of you.
If the relationship has not evolved though into a balanced place, allowing for that mature and honest communication on both sides, then waiting to hear sorry could easily be one of the worst wastes of time you could spend. Perhaps too, the other person is actually sorry but finds it easier to show it than say it, therefore avoiding more painful confrontation.
Releasing the need to hear sorry and allowing another person to communicate their feelings in their own way is a gift of liberation to your self. Actions can exhibit their remorse as clearly as the spoken word, and even louder. As long as you remain trying to control the whole situation, waiting to hear them say sorry, it is your energy lost and your pain that remains.
So let them in. Reaching the place of readiness to do this may take much healing. The decision to let them in though is then a rather simple one. You give up the fight. You know that life is the best teacher (for both of you). You don’t have to become best friends overnight or ever again. But if this person is still in your life and you are still affected by them, then it is possible that a part of you may still love them too.
Letting them in can be a private decision, one that they are not even aware of. Do it for yourself if there is still too much pain associated with the relationship. Make the choice to let them in again slowly for your own benefit. It immediately releases the energy previously given to keeping them out. That wounded person in you is now healing.
Should any of his or her past behaviour threaten to show up again, and chances are it won’t, you have reached a place where you will react differently. You have the right to speak up for yourself now, although you may never need to.
The decision to let them in can be just that. It doesn’t need to come with huge fanfare. But something deep inside of you benefits from the softener that such a decision offers. Then slowly but surely, conversations improve and a flow of love slowly returns to the relationship.
It can be hard work. It can be painful. But it will also be healing and bring relief. It can stop you from having regrets at the end of your life too, by not allowing your pain to dominate your whole life. It takes dissolving the ego, forgiveness, and compassion. Most of all though it just takes a decision.
Like a dog with a wagging tail, desperate to come into the warmth and comfort of a loving environment, allowing others in brings relief and gratitude in ways still unimagined. Then as you lie by that fire, safe in the comfort of simplicity and peace, life suddenly feels much less complicated. Let them in. It is time to heal.
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