When we returned from lunch break, we started the afternoon session with a meditation that helped us get grounded and connected. At the end of the meditation, with our eyes still closed, Mary kept her word and asked for a volunteer to demonstrate the process with her at the front of the room. I raised my hand straight up in the air, which somehow felt a lot easier to do with my eyes closed.
With my hand held high and eyes shut tight, I asked God to guide me. “Please God, if I’m selected, help me be fully open and please help me clear all this out so I may let go. If I’m selected, God, please fill me with courage so I may be a positive example for the others that will do this process after me. Thank you, God!”
“You may open your eyes.”
In a joyful tone without skipping a beat, Mary announced, “The lucky winner is you, Julie.”
“Oh shit, what did I just do?” was my first thought. My next thought was, “Ok, I will do this. I’m ready. I’m ready to let go. I’m ready to forgive. I’m grateful for this opportunity. I’m grateful to be fully guided by the instructor through this process.”
But I felt like I won the booby prize. Being that I’m rather funny, I tried to add a little humor to the situation. So with my eyebrows raised and a fake smile across my face I sarcastically said, “Oh goody, I am the lucky winner. Yay!”
Then, I took a seat in the chair at the front of the room next to Mary and noticed an empty chair out in front of me.
Mary explained to the group why the empty chair was there and how I would use the Gestalt Therapy empty chair technique.
“Julie will imagine her abuser is sitting in the empty chair and speak to him throughout the forgiveness process.”
Mary reminded me that I was safe, that she would guide me through the entire process, and that she would be there for me. She asked me if I was ready to take the first step. I said, “Yes.” She then asked me to state my intention. Tears quickly filled my eyes as I said to the group, “I am ready to forgive my abuser, fully let go, and be free. I am ready to forgive so I can feel safe and trust men again.”
Then I was ready to move on to step 2 and express my feelings, or so I thought.
All of a sudden, the tears that had filled my eyes were streaming down my face and free-flowing as if I had given them permission to let loose. I couldn’t stop them or even hold them back and knew I should let them flow. Then, like water bursting through a dam, the emotions let loose, too. I felt so many different emotions inside of me:
It felt miserable to feel all the emotions that had been jumbled and bottled up for years. But this time I allowed myself to feel all of it. Fully.
In a lumpy-throated, quivering voice I started to let it out.
“I fucking hate you. You hurt me. You touched me without my permission. You were supposed to be a friend. You were supposed to be a safe male in my life.” I paused, hoping I had said enough for Mary to move on to the next step, knowing full well I hadn’t.
Mary encouraged me to keep going.
“You’re a fuck-head. I hate you. I hate what you did to me.” I felt self-conscious saying all of these things out loud in front of the group, but Mary continued to encourage me to get it all out so I continued on.
“I hate how you surprise attacked me. I hate how you got your friends to hurt me. I hate how you were tricky. I hate all that you did to me. You’re nasty and gross and mean.” I was trying not to hold back, but some of it was hard to say out loud. Sometimes the sound of the words just couldn’t make it past the lump in my throat, but I shouted them in my head.
I was surprised at how much anger I still had inside especially after all the hours of therapy, tapping, and healing I had already done.
But boy was it there, and it was ready to be released. Mary stepped in to show me the way.