As Donovan volunteers, we need to get a TB test every year. I headed to Target for my annual prick last week. I got some groceries, received my TB test and then self-checked out. As I later look in my bag, I realize that under my computer, there were three Lindt orange chocolate bars I had completely forgotten about! Oh, a flurry of emotions surfaced: “You’re a thief! How dare you walk away without paying for the chocolate. And you think you have such high integrity, my tush!!!!!”
Recognizing the gremlin attack, I reenacted the event in my mind, recognized it was an honest mistake, defined a rectification (easy, as two days later I’d be back at Target to get my TB test read) and asked for forgiveness. The load lightened and then I continued going about my evening.
The next morning, I sat down to work. As I put fingers to keyboard, I found myself tightening up, feeling stressed, constricted, uncreative. Wondering what was creating this feeling, I realized I still harbored guilt and shame for the Target episode.
“I must have not released all of it last night.” So, I stepped away from my computer and reworked through the steps that I know work, closing with asking for forgiveness. And here, I hear “I’ve already forgiven you. When are you going to forgive yourself?”
Well… That had not even crossed my mind! So, I put my hands on my heart and, with as much care I could create in that moment, I said “Mariette, I know this was an honest mistake that you’re going to rectify tomorrow. You are free to release any guilt and shame you continue to hold against yourself. I forgive you because I love you.”
With this, I felt the boulders on my shoulders and in my stomach dissolve. I sat down at my computer again, and I was back in the flow: open, creative, receptive, joyful. I was in my brilliance! And produced terrific work over the next couple of hours.
My brilliance had been dimmed, blocked and shackled by the shame and guilt I had been holding onto. As soon as I released it, I was back in my brilliance.
And I realized, I had applied a lesson continuously learned in prison: Releasing my hurts ignites my brilliance. (Some of the countless examples of the residents’ journeys through this lesson another day…)