I often find myself drawing both painful and happy experiences. Sometimes together, sometimes one or the other, and not intentionally. I just draw out what I'm feeling in that moment.
This tiger kept coming up in my head, along with the words judgement, bitterness, and temptation.
As I was mindlessly drawing, flashbacks from my past of someone judging me, comparing me, belittling me, over and over again, kept coming up. Thoughts from my early childhood up through adulthood. Painful, nasty words that I so desperately wanted to block out.
I thought I had completely forgiven this person years ago, but the more I drew, the more bitterness surfaced. I never thought I was an angry person, but deep anger and resentment was coming out of me and onto my sketchbook.
That's when I finally faced the tiger head on.
The more I drew, the more I saw the thoughts I had been stuffing for years. "If I were to face that person again, I would have to take more judgement and even more pain. If I just pretended to not be hurt or acted like I was perfect, then I wouldn't have to face the pain of their words and actions again."
For years and years I strived to be perfect, look perfect, appear like I had it all together so that this one person would finally care for me unconditionally. In that striving I developed unhealthy behaviors like an eating disorder, an addiction to exercise, food, and work.
And even though a lot of my unhealthy behaviors had gone, the one that lingered, the drug of choice that I'm STILL using to stuff that pain, is food. Some would say I'm just like everyone else who overeats from time to time, but for me, I know I'm just using food to stuff these negative thoughts.
So I decided in that very moment, this early morning, to forgive this person for good. It only took a minute, but it felt like eternity.
And I knew forgiveness wouldn't lessen the assault, or cause me to forget... I just knew three major things:
- Bitterness was only hurting me, not them.
- I have MANY of my own flaws, weaknesses, and struggles.
- My bitterness is greatly contributing to my food addition.
And lastly, nothing but good can come out of forgiveness.
For - give, the words "for them" and "giving" comes into my head. It's probably the last thing we want to do, given what they did to us. But if you think about it, forgiveness is giving to yourself for them. Allowing them to have love and grace so we can be free.
Which is why the birds came into my drawing. I felt relief and freedom come through my fingers and onto the page. A literal sense of lightness came over me after I faced my lion for the first time.
It may not be the end of my flashbacks, but it's the start of grace and love for myself and my offender.