Posts tagged ‘healing’

Downshifting from Overdrive: Accepting Myself

On most days, my appearance would give you no clue that I struggle with my physical and mental health.

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Occasionally, though, I can't hide my biology's battle against me.

Does anyone remember how in the “way back days” (a boy who I once had guardianship of used this to refer to my younger days), even in an automatic car, you drove in Drive sometimes and in Overdrive sometimes? The two weren’t synonymous. Well, no matter, I’m sure you can fathom what I mean. I keep trying to live my life in Overdrive with the Parking Break on. I don’t mean to. I don’t want to. I want to drive, but my health keeps applying the parking break, because I’ve been unwilling to downshift. I’ve been afraid. I’ve been thinking that if I downshifted, I’d be in Neutral and that wasn’t acceptable. You get pushed in Neutral. You get towed away in Neutral. Sometimes in Overdrive with the pedal to the metal and going nowhere because the Parking Break is on, I’ve thought shifting into Reverse was going to help me somehow, like when you rock a car to get yourself unstuck from an icy, three-foot high snowdrift (I grew up on the Chicago latitude). But it hasn’t ever worked because (unlike when I’m driving a car) I’m still in the habit of putting that pedal to the metal so I lurch backwards and slam myself into a tree trunk. Then I’m really going nowhere! All this to say, I don’t want to be lead-footed anymore in Overdrive or Reverse. It’s incredible how long it took me to realize why I wasn’t going anywhere or going so slowly.

Have you driven with your Parking Brake on? The first few times you try, your car holds you locked in place and you realize it. But, imagine the Driver’s Ed teacher keeps secretly setting it because he wants you to quit speeding. He knows you aren’t really in control when you are going so fast. We’ll suppose he’s tried to tell you in other ways, but you just weren’t getting it. It’s not necessarily your fault. It turns out he speaks with a heavy accent; you have to listen really, really hard to catch half of what he’s saying. Well, if he keeps setting it but you don’t know when, you keep pushing that pedal to the metal when you feel that drag. He means well, but sometimes you speed even worse because you anticipate the drag of the brake being on. You are in even less control than before. It’s a strain on you and the car. The brake starts to give. Eventually, when you do it, your car moves but my gosh, it’s like trying to push it uphill all alone! You get so frustrated. Everyone’s passing you by. You can’t get where you want to go. You want to give up, but you won’t. I mean, after all, at least you’re still moving. But inside your engine is burning hard, wearing down. Let’s just say, I’ve really been killing my engine!

I’ve got a lot of updating to do to my “About” page, but to put it briefly, I’ve got 20 chronic health conditions. I use to be an “overachiever”, but I’ve been disabled for many years now. I struggle with activities of daily living, but looking at me and even being around me for a day or two, you probably wouldn’t have a clue. I’ve been in various degrees of denial, not intellectually but emotionally for the most part. I still have found reasons to rejoice here and there, but I’m not happy and I know I’m the only one who can change that. I have the power to choose joy, but it is an “attitude in action” and my attitude, though positive, has been pretty stagnant. I’ve decided I’ve got to try downshifting from Overdrive to Drive. I had to trade in for an older model, one that has that option. So, I may not fit in at first. I don’t like that, but if it means I might start making some progress, it’ll be worth it. This past year – it’s been so hard! I realized I wasn’t going forward, no matter how cool my sports car life looked. I realized how burnt up my engine was. I realized shifting into Reverse didn’t help. I wanted people to pitch in and push. That didn’t work either. I’m so angry. As much as I hate being angry (I mean who really likes it), I’ve got to admit it. I’m angry I didn’t understand what my health problems were trying to tell me. But I’m not going to waste anymore time being angry at myself. Well, that’s probably not true; it’s a hard habit to break, but I, at least, am going to do something different too.

My downshifting is starting right here, with this blog. I’m sure sometimes I’ll still blog my philosophical musings or spiritual meditations or inspirational reflections or political rantings or artistic expressions, but here out this blog is foremost going to be a chronicle of my choice to live my life. That sounds so ordinary, but the key words in there are choice, live, and my. I reminded myself recently when I emotionally vomited an email to someone that my mind doesn’t process things well inside. If I’m going to write, it makes sense that I should use it to help myself, not just others. Often, I’ve shared the lessons I’ve learned but not the process of how I’ve learned them. I look over my blog and sometimes it just seems so stiff and formal, so unapproachable while inside I’m crying out for someone to not only approach but to hold me. Well, how can I ever face writer’s block again if my mind is always going. I’m not going to worry about getting things just right or being right. I’ve known for a long time I’m not “Super Molly,” but I wanted everyone else to think I was. Funny thing is it wasn’t because I needed people to see me as “Super” but because I needed them to see me and since I haven’t figured out who I am yet, I thought I had to show them me as “something”. I didn’t trust they could figure out who I was right along with me. Actually, I think I was a bit afraid they’d figure it out before me and I’d feel like I was being passed by. Hmm, the irony.

I truly believe God speaks through other people and I think it’s important to let people know when they are a vessel of Spirit’s voice in what they say or do. So, many people have contributed to this moment, this particular instant of awakening, but aside from my therapist Tina Marie Dale, LCSW, I want to thank a few special people who probably have no idea how they have touched me. Honestly i don’t know if I can explain except to say that their “being there” and/or genuineness is emboldening me to expose my Self, to love myself enough to slow down. I may have to add to this list as I remember people but here are the people off the top of my head right now…
Barb Efflandt, Rev. Kathleen Thomas, Frankey Landon, @aeTyree, @Read2Write10, @JillMarieinFL, @tetka, my friends at Poetry here And Now, Deborah Helm, Jill & Jo O’Brien, Lady Dawn, Alice Puckett, Jesleen92 (blog: 91 Odd Socks), “Bananas” Charity (blog: charityjh.com), and Wendy Holcolme (blog: Picnic with Ants: Living with Chronic Illnesses). Those names beginning with “@” are the Twitter usernames by which I know them. Many people on Twitter have blogs and I encourage you to check out these Tweeters and their blogs.

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You CAN be Perfect!

Figure 20 from Charles Darwin's The Expression...

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To affirm, simply put, is to add firmness to. To affirm yourself, therefore, is to add firmness to you and to your self, to strengthen both your definition of yourself and your very being. Start by affirming what is known truth – you are human. What does it mean to be human? A human is not all powerful. A human is not all knowing. A human is imperfect. A human feels. Emotions convey a message. Fear tells us we do not know something. Fear is  useful. Fear is normal. Fear is to be expected. We have no reason to fear fear. Likewise, we have no reason to act is if we are fearless or to avoid anything that might evoke fear. Doing so reflects a form of perfectionism. Do not be afraid to fail or to succeed. You can be perfect – perfectly human, perfectly you.
We are meant to strive toward perfection, but neither to reach it nor to expect to reach it. To have a different mindset is to challenge God, to believe we can be equal. To judge ourselves unworthy of God’s love and mercy reflects an expectation that we can be perfect. Thus we manifest our true sin, pride. In refusing God’s love and likewise refusing to love ourselves, God’s creation, we withdraw our trust in God alone. We again forget we are of God. We no longer clearly and consistently recognize God. We begin to fail to see the God in others, but rather see only the façade which their separation from God requires them to create. We, in turn, seek affection from them instead of the God within they are meant to manifest. Hence, God is no longer our first and only love. We lose our way. We separate ourselves even further from the source of our very being, the only Perfect, in whom when we are ultimately united we are perfected in love.
So quit trying to be perfect. When anxieties arise, recognize the feeling as a reminder that you are human, just as you are meant to be. Rejoice that you do not know everything because it is not your responsibility or your burden. Affirm that you not only have a right to be afraid, but that it is normal to fear. Yes, I say rejoice that you have been wonderfully made, that you are extraordinarily ordinary. Rejoice that you know God and that God’s strength is yours for the asking. Just for today, choose to be, strive to be perfectly human. Tell yourself, ” I am perfectly human, naturally flawed, extraordinarily ordinary, wonderfully unique. I am meant to feel and to fail, to find favor and forgiveness in the fullness of God, forever and the only the Perfector of Souls.”  AFFIRMATION: Just for today, I accept and rejoice that I am a human being, created and loveable just as I am.

I Hope Because I Must

Spc. Jlynn Johnson (right), U.S. Army Health C...

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God works in mysterious ways we cannot hope to understand, but it behooves us to remember that with God, nothing is impossible. Miracles are not just a thing of Biblical history. Neither are they simply beating tough odds. But such faith is borne out in our choice to hope. And when we choose to Have an Optimistic Plan for Everything (and for all Eternity), we naturally put forth the effort to cooperate as fully with God’s will as much as we are able. I recently visited my father who lives a state away from me. He told me he and his wife and my step-sister still pray God will heal me through the grace outpoured by Jesus the Christ. I always remind him that while it may not make sense to him or sometimes even me, I believe I bear the cross of my health problems for a reason and that God’s will may not be for me to be healed. My father nods his head , but I believe remains unconvinced. My father was a victim in an automobile accident. He wasn’t driving. He was hit by a truck while walking across a street. He’d just left work and as he took his last step onto the curb to reach the parking lot across the street, an overeager driver lurched forward into my Dad as the light turned green. Some of his injuries were termed the worst ever seen by the doctors where he was air-lifted. His pelvis was broke in half and folded into a 90 degree angle. He was told there was no chance he would walk again. However, that didn’t deter his determination. When the physical therapist would leave his room, he’d work a little harder, a little longer. He walks, albeit with a cane and pain, but he walks. He was shrunk 2-3” and he stoops over, but my dad, once 6’9” still towers over me physically and in my mind. My father chose to have hope. I admit that for many years I took his healing for granted, only marveling a bit at the story but not truly absorbing the magnificence of God’s glory at work.

painting by mollyjayne40, blog administrator, based on an image suggested by Zemanta on WordPress


I can relate many more examples of modern miracles, all personally known to me –some just as dramatic, some less, some more. For example, my cousin was diagnosed with sleep apnea and told how he’d have to wear a mask hooked up to a breathing machine the rest of his life. My cousin lost a significant amount of weight, got into better physical condition, learned better breathing techniques, and made adjustments to his environment. He no longer requires a machine and is on several less medications. My cousin said he never would have made the improvements he did if he hadn’t 1) accepted and used the machine which finally allowed him the physically and mentally restorative sleep  and the regulated schedule he needed to have the energy and organization to work towards goals and 2) chosen to have hope and to work steadily toward progress in his health in general with a chance at a pay-off some termed impossible. Another example and one which typifies the modern world’s response is that which occurred for a pastor at a church I formerly attended before moving. In brief, he had been diagnosed with lung cancer and was being treated by a team of doctors at one of the most highly rated specialty cancer treatment centers in the world. Unfortunately, the cancer did not seem to be abating in response to any of the treatment. With plans for a visit cross-country, the pastor’s colleague and friend suggested he visit one of the other top cancer treatment centers which happened to be close to his destination. During his flight, while praying a preemptive thanksgiving for the “healing only the Good Lord can provide”, he noticed he was suddenly able to breathe better. Two days later, test results in hand and feeling confident that he had been healed, he arrived and began a new battery of tests. When the doctors at last descended upon him, they announced that he had no trace of cancer and had “obviously [been] misdiagnosed”. However they had no explanation for what may have caused all of the false positive readings on his test results as they had found no trace of any illness or injury in the chest, noting that his lungs and heart were easily that of someone 20 years his junior. I could continue with such stories, but I have one special one to tell.
full-body Positron Emissions Tomography
The following is the story that inspired this post. It is one that gave me chills when I first heard it and one that still does every time I retell it. In my younger years I spent several months discerning with a Catholic community of Benedictine Sisters. Ultimately, I did not become a part of the community but they’ve long held a special place in my heart. During my discernment period I worked with two vocation directors. On a visit last autumn I learned one of them had been diagnosed and was struggling with little response to intervention for an aggressive form of cancer with a low survival rate. I was saddened to see here subsisting on a liquid diet, as she could not keep down any solid food. Then, on another visit in February, I learned that this sweet woman of the “invisible habit” (that air of peace and example of righteous conduct that is far more visible and indicative of perpetual vows than any piece of cloth) had come to an agreement with her doctors to end treatment. For as many cancer patients will tell you, it is only the possibility of a cure that helps them to endure the suffering most cancer treatment produces. No cure could reasonably be expected for Sister F. And as my dear friend and the other once-vocation director said, “The doctors and she have done all they can. At this point all we can do is pray God blesses her with a miraculous healing if it is God’s will. We know it is possible and I know you will pray with us.” I did of course. All we could do was choose to have hope. This past month, on another visit, I noticed Sister F’s cheeks seemed more ruddy and her step seemed lighter. I asked Sister C, “So how is Sister F doing?” SIster C’s face brightened as she related the latest update. At a recent doctor’s visit, a PET scan plus four additional tests revealed not only that the cancer had not spread but that no trace of it remained. They had all been accused of colluding with God to put the doctors out of business. I cannot help but be encouraged and inspired, not only by the outcome of this story, but by the gracefulness with which this nun accepted God’s will, whatever it might be, moving as easily with serenity towards death as towards her life now continued. So, as Arthur Woolson says in recounting his personal story as the father of child diagnosed with Schizophrenia, “I hope because I must. For without faith, the dull sounds of existence would be too hollow to bear” (Goodbye, My Son – Copyright 1962)

Surviving Loss: Unexpected Death of a Close Loved One

Inconsolable grief

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Originally published November 27, 2010

Everyone grieves in a unique way.  You can’t do it wrong.  You will do it even if no one tells you how. Any change presents a loss.  One of the losses most difficult to manage is the unexpected death of someone we love dearly and rely on heavily; most often this is a spouse, sibling, parent, or best friend.  You may feel completely overwhelmed and question your ability to cope.  People may be there for you but you can’t even think straight about what you need.  You go through motions that seem like living, but nothing seems real.  Life in rich Technicolor high-definition 3D wide-screen now seems to be trapped in a 12 inch black-and-white TV with poor reception.  You can’t imagine how you’ll carry on.  Luckily, reality doesn’t need to be imagined.

The reality is you will survive.  You will recover . Things won’t ever be the same, but they won’t be worse – just different.  You will struggle.  You will change and you will grow.  You will accept the loss, not because it will mean any less, but because it will become a part of you and your journey.  How do I know?  I know because you want it . You asked for help by reading this article.  Some are content to be miserable.  You aren’t.  You are willing or at least willing to be willing to do what needs to be done to find contentment again.  You are willing to surrender to a power greater than you, even if it is just the people about you with whom you’ve shared this piece of your pain.  You have the will to be filled with and to share what all those who know and have ever known you love.  Where there is a will, there is a way.  The way is your personal journey of healing.

Because much of life does not come with an instruction manual, including dealing with loss, we can only rely on our own experience and that of others to work through such difficult times.  We will discover some people want to help, while others are too emotionally fragile.  Bear in mind that while you are struggling with your loss, you will not be able to fulfill some of the needs others have relied upon you to fill.  Whether purposeful or not, relieving yourself of some of your responsibilities is necessary to muster the energy to deal with your loss.  As you may be struggling to find the support your recently passed loved one provided, others near you may realize they need to build their support system as well.  Though painful, this is one small way in which a significant loss can bring about good.

In today’s society, where family is spread far apart and friends are often few and superficially squeezed into our busy lives, we very often rely too heavily on just a few individuals to meet all of our needs.  We must learn to reach out and connect.  We must learn to identify our needs and search out multiple ways of meeting them.  We aren’t looking to replace the one we’ve lost but rather to join in community with the larger web of existence.  We are meant to be interdependent as a species.  No one or few people should be our sole support anymore than we should put ourselves in that role for someone else.  The sooner we began this journey of self-discovery and connection, the sooner the devastating effects of our loss will subside.  Remember, too, that no one leaves the world untouched. The imprint of your loved one is pressed into more than your heart and memory. How you travel this journey will be unique to you. As a starting point, I’ve offered below what helped me most in my earliest days of grieving different losses in my life. I wish I had had them all at my disposal from the beginning, but surviving loss continues to be a learning process for me. I only hope that my experience will make yours more bearable.

Connect With Your Emotions
*Use art to express your emotions (you don’t have to be an artist).
*Journal, write letters to your departed loved one, or write stream of conscious about one emotion you pick to focus on.
*Make some dates with yourself, maybe 30 minutes twice per day (to start), to fully honor your need to feel your feelings and equally honor your need to take a break from them.
*Attend a grief support group or see an individual therapist specializing in grief;

Connect the Past & Present
*Reminisce aloud or write about happy memories, especially ones that make you laugh, as much as possible.
*Make a list of what you learned from the person who is no longer with you.
*Try to get to know better the younger generation whose genes your loved one passed on.
*Contemplate your loved ones legacy and continued presence: donations s/he made to charities, something s/he helped create, words s/he wrote, causes s/he supported, traditions, etc;

Connect With Others Who Shared in Your Loved One’s Life
*Ask other people to contribute to the above or below.
*Gather some help to put together a memory box or scrapbook of your loved one’s life for a younger generation of your family or his/hers.
*As you are confronted with handling your loved ones belongings or things s/he gave you, consider what you might part with knowing how it could touch someone else’s heart.

Connect With the World Around You
*Force yourself to be around people as much as possible, but don’t force yourself to interact if it’s too exhausting.
*Invite people over; let them know you don’t feel like being alone but don’t necessarily want to do anything particular.
*Visit museums or library events or explore other out-of-home interests, especially ones your loved one may not have enjoyed, that don’t expect anything of you.
*Fully engage yourself in whatever you are doing, redirecting your attention to your five senses if you become distracted by your inner turmoil.

The Word Shall Heal

Pope Benedict XVI celebrates the Eucharist, a ...

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One of my most favorite moments in the Catholic Mass is when as a congregation, everyone speaks together during the Eucharistic celebration, “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the Word and I shall be healed.” This is derived from today’s Gospel reading. The centurion, a man of compassion and great faith, humbles himself to the Lord to ask for healing for his suffering servant who lies at home paralyzed.

Lord, I am not worthy to have you under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed. (Matt 8:8 NAB)

The adaptation in the Mass embodies a great deal of my core faith. Without humility, I cannot surrender to God‘s will. If I cannot surrender, I cannot be in full union with God. Out of union with God, I am discontent, without joy. Without joy, I cannot fully love. God created me to love and be loved. Without humility I cannot be the person God created me to be.

I am to receive the Lord. I am to be open. I am to recognize God as a gift. I am to recognize that God comes to me, is with me. We’ve never really been apart except in our minds. I am to welcome God into my heart as an honored guest.

I’ve found so many Protestants to be pleasantly enlightened by my explanation of the Eucharistic Celebration in the Catholic Church. They are quite happy to discover we don’t believe in cannibalism. They are then intrigued that our belief in the real presence of Christ is rooted in believing that the Eucharistic Celebration reunites us with Christ in time and place. While the Spirit is with me always, I’m filled with such gratitude to be joined with Christ each time I participate in the wondrous experience of Holy Communion. I feel even more personally connected to God which sets the foundation for what is said next.

When we say, “only say the word,” I think of three things. First, God is so powerful that only God’s voice, not God’s physical presence, is necessary to animate God’s will. Yet, the Creator gave us Christ to be a physical presence to humanity. Second, I imagine “word” to be capitalized. The Creator spoke us all, including Jesus the Christ, into being. Third, the Word who existed since the world began is the source of our healing. The moment concludes with the assurance that our hope is in the Lord and we shall be healed. Isaiah reminds us that the glory of the Lord is made manifest through God’s merciful cleansing of our souls, bringing light to the darkness. If I allow it, welcome it, welcome Christ into my heart, I am healed today in so many ways.

To Contemplate
For whom do you struggle to have empathy and compassion?
What is your reason to receive communion…to comply with tradition, to be comforted, to be more fully united with Christ the Lord in the mission of bringing peace and salvation to the world?
Where do you see opportunities to bring God’s message and ministry of healing to those around you?
When will you know that you are fully healed?
Why is it so difficult for you as an individual to feel a personal connection with God?
How can you better prepare yourself for the coming of Christ in glory?

To Devote Ourselves, We Pray
Lord you have washed away our sins, healed us and made us stronger. We are in awe of your compassion and power. Gently humble our hearts to recognize our unworthiness, empower us with empathy and fill us with compassion. As we have been healed and are filled with Your presence, let us likewise share the same with all those about us, bringing peace to one moment, one person at a time until you come again to heal in full all who will receive you. Amen

The Power of Visualization

plasma lamp

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The inner world of our psyche is ever seeking homeostasis just as is the outer physical world.  By placing ourselves in the past in a visualization, we are able to give power to ourselves where none existed.  However, if we were to envision ourselves with greater power in the present, we risk upsetting the balance of energy within the world of our psyche.  By doing so, we would create a need for the expenditure of that energy.  In other words, we would eventually act on our visualization unless the energy were rebalanced in some other way.

If the nature of our visualization is positive – enhancing, creative, productive – we recognize our ability to act as “courage”.  When the nature of our visualization is negative – limiting, destructive, violent – we label the internal catalyst “loss of inhibition” or “impulsiveness”.  Hence we may embrace visualization as a highly beneficial tool, but need also to acknowledge it as potential energy and handle carefully how we use it.  In a very real way, our thoughts indeed have the power to create reality. In this way, visualization – using our imagination – can help us heal from past trauma if it is properly applied. Misapplied, though, visualization can lead to act with vengeance, further harming our psyche. Persons in recovery will benefit from seeking out psychotherapists who understand this delicate balance.

Why and How to For-Give

color swap

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If you’ve been hurt, you may be sick of people telling you that you need to forgive and quite confused by and vehemently opposed to the very thought. I want to offer an easier-to-swallow perspective. I think to FOR-GIVE is to, FOR our own serenity, GIVE the guilt back to whom it belongs. When we are victimized, we are sometimes so enraged that we desire those who have hurt us to be harmed. Wishing harm is in essence hate, and hate is the absence of love. It seems to me that we are made to love; it is what comes naturally. When we don’t act in accord with this – when we don’t act with love – we feel guilt. Some people would even go so far as to say we are guilty if we can’t “love our enemies.” Sometimes love seems impossible so we reject the idea, making war against ourselves and consequently turning guilt into shame. Shame leads us to believe we cannot change as a person because we see ourselves as flawed. Most often, and far too often, this occurs because too many people stop short in understanding the application of love.

Consider the rhetoric of “hate the sin and love the sinner”. That’s a contrite and misguided statement. It IS healthy and healing to love a human being who has hurt us because s/he has the potential to heal and be loving. However, we are something besides just human beings – we are individual persons. So, when someone repeatedly acts in an unloving manner such that it has become their character or personality, we are free to choose without guilt to like, love or dislike that person in accord with or in spite of their actions. To not allow this distinction leaves far too many victims locked in confusion, ultimately feeling guilty for not being able to forgive or feeling so frustrated with trying to forgive that anger sucks the love right out of us. We fail to see the victimizer as capable of change. It is only HATE of the human being or the person that rightly bring the discomfort of guilt because it puts us at war with our loving selves. Let me clarify.

It is right to begin with the concept of separating actions from the person who is acting, but we must then go on to separate the human being from the person. This in turn allows us to see the perpetrator is a human being who made choices influenced by the same sort of things that influence how we choose to act, to recognize that the perpetrator had and still has the potential for good. Yet, for reasons we do not fully know or understand, our perpetrator chose to act in ways that were self-serving and lacking in compassion for us. Therefore, we can GIVE the guilt back to the one who chose to act without love, knowing that WE did NOTHING wrong to deserve being hurt. We, as human beings, are meant to be loved and to love. When a someone’s needs are consistently not met, it is difficult for her/him to feel loved and in turn know how to be loving. Guilt belongs and always has to the one who made the choice to act without love because s/he was at war with her/himself. It doesn’t have to be our war to fight. FOR our serenity, we release that responsibility to her/him, knowing that the “best revenge (which isn’t really revenge at all) is a life well-lived”.

We are all human beings. We act based on the choices we make, which in turn, for good or bad, reinforces our personal identity. Thus, we are the person we choose to be. If we can see and accept these differentiations, we have the power to forgive others. More importantly, we have the power to forgive ourselves. We can grow in love for ourselves and recognize that we are capable of changing who we are with every choice we make. It is only what we are that is unchanging. It is this – what others are and who they are capable of becoming  – that we are called to LOVE. When we forgive, we are able to love our fellow human beings and to love ourselves into fullness.

Forgiveness is a very difficult concept to grasp and an even more difficult one to practice. It is important to realize that true forgiveness is an aspect of making amends. If I ‘forgive’ a person who has wronged me but make myself available to be easily hurt again, I haven’t completely released the problem.  Making amends means setting things right as best we can.  That includes doing what we need to do for our own recovery which necessarily requires we set and maintain healthy boundaries.  Many of us must learn how to do this over a course of time.  For that reason, forgiveness is a process rather than a decision or one time action.  Recovery is a multifaceted progression rather than a linear journey.