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COLUMN: Learning forgiveness a crucial step in healing

'I am seeing pain and anger in our community with the Pope's visit to Edmonton later this month.'
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Columnist Katie Suvanto

What does forgiveness look like? 

Some of us must dig deep for this one. On the surface it can be a forced smile and acknowledgement, but inside it can affect the very cells that keep us alive. I keep hearing we are responsible for our own healing and forgiveness, and countless guides to healing tell us to look within and forgive ourselves first. Personally, my first response is: “Why? It happened to me — I didn’t ask for this.” 

I have allowed myself to stay angry instead of working towards healing, but in all fairness, I didn’t know how. Now I know I am responsible for the effects of my trauma and how it played out in my life. My actions are a reaction, like so many others who have spent most of their life in fight mode and are without a toolbox, a community, or a sense of self worth. 

I don’t know yet what it will feel like to be healed, but I keep taking steps toward this goal. I wrote down the things that impacted me the most over my life, and with their acceptance comes a great deal of pain and trauma. For some it's relatable and for others it is unfathomable, but it is a reality. I just want to be OK, but I know that’s on me.  

I am learning to forgive myself but recognize others I’ve impacted with my actions can’t, because they will never really know or understand the context behind those actions.  

Recently I saw a message from @Mymentalhealthspace that read: 

“You may want to forgive your parents for: raising you through their own unresolved trauma; not being able to teach you certain skills, as nobody taught them; not being able to understand you, because they did not have the capacity to; raising you through their own struggles, worries, pain, and fears; doing the best they could with what they knew and had; following certain cultural norms that they were surrounded with; being emotionally unavailable, as their parents were emotionally unavailable."

I don’t want to be angry anymore. My heart and body can't take it, and I want to stop the cycle of anger with my children, so they are better than I was. 

I am seeing pain and anger in our community with the Pope's visit to Edmonton later this month. 

For years, many have called for this apology, but now it is happening on our soil, where secrets have been hidden. The root of the pain is coming in its physical form to acknowledge ours. The onus is on us as a nation to acknowledge the pain, and to support each other in our healing. What is about to happen with this awaited apology may not have harmed you, but destroyed others. 

I’m learning it takes half the energy to learn acceptance and forgiveness than the energy required to hold trauma and hate. May we show forgiveness, acceptance, and learn. 

Katie Suvanto is a mother of three whose oldest son was born in St. Albert. She is exploring her Indigenous heritage and raising a child who lives with autism.


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