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  • Skribentens bildCamilla Hellberg

Breaking isolation #3: Forgetting

”We don’t have to remember anymore, we can forget.”

As I read this sentence my body felt instant relief. When it comes to breaking isolation I never considered forgetting as an essential part of a transformative process. I was practicing becoming aware, moving through and letting things go, but I was convinced I still had to store everything and carry it with me. And be ready to bring it all to my awareness again and again, when needed. It puzzled me that one simple word signaling something final was available to me and that forgetting could be a good thing.

At the core of this confusion brew a distrust in myself; was I capable of clearly distinguishing between healthy forgetting and being in denial? I wanted to do my transformative work well, but I never really knew when something was ready, done.

Another thing that made me carry everything around was a belief in that I would remain safe. The logic went something like this: ”if I remember everything traumatic and carry around everything I know and have experienced, I will know when and how to protect myself in the future.”

I was led to believe I had to continue giving a traumatic event the same amount of space it had invaded by intrusion. I thought I had no option but to sacrifice sacred space and use any strength I had left to try improve the atmosphere in the occupied area. Like decorating on top of mold instead of just tearing it all down and make space for something new. Letting myself forget and reclaiming my sacred space.

Forgetting can happen and it can be healthy. Compulsive catering for one’s wounds takes effort and consumes precious time and energy. The very components that could be used for other things, like actually living your life instead of habitually reacting to a past.

It can be hard to know the difference between forgetting and being in denial. I think it’s the main reason I had difficulties in letting myself forget. I feared that I was in denial and that I ought to work harder on moving through. There was something preventing transformation from happening and it was my determination to make the ”bad” become ”good”. I got stuck with an impossible mission. If I had changed the words ”good” and ”bad” to ”ripe” and ”unripe”, I would probably have dealt with everything very differently.

As soon as the language and imagery of ripeness entered my process, it shifted the demands I put on myself as well as my coping strategies. From trying to force something to happen, I began to listen to what was needed from me for it to happen. For example; trust in the possibility of healing, kindness towards myself, taking action when feeling the impulse and patience with the process. An organic process is about something unripe becoming ripe over time. This return to a kind of listening found resonance in my being and changed the way I viewed healing and also the act of forgetting as an essential part of it.

As I began to look at something as unripe or ripe things started to make sense. It became possible to let a fruit from the past fall of the tree in the present without a fight. My brain simply understood the absurdity in trying to force a ripe fruit hang on to a branch that is ready to let it go.

I thought of all the times I had fallen into the trap of ”good” vs ”bad”. How my hands and feet were busy keeping ripe fruits from falling off various trees. I saw how perfectly that impossible mission created isolation and confusion. Somewhere, somehow I knew that I knew better and I could feel it as I stood there stretching every limb and breaking my back. I knew that something had to change. Either I was going to continue asking others to feed and rescue me, since my hands and feet were busy tending to the past, or I was going to free my hands and feet and see the ripe-now-rotten fruit fall to the ground and splash straight in my face.

The good thing about rotten fruit is that you can simply wash them off. They return to the soil and become nutrients for any part of nature that needs them. The shame that ”good” vs ”bad”-thinking creates is harder to get rid of because it has no space in an organic and natural process. Shame is always an artificial intrudor.

Note to self: Set your hands and feet free. Let the rotten fruit fall and splash. Wash yourself off. Tend to what’s unripe and let it ripen, let it mature. Then let the ripe fruit fall when your tree shows you it's time and feel the liberation of forgetting.

Stop staring at yourself and look at the tree. You are right there.


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