Ho’oponopono: Forgiving My Fathers and Restoring My Joy
Tucked away in a corner of my heart, and robbing me of my joy for years, lived a painful interpretation of my birth story. That was when a subtle portion of my soul reached out for the loving vibration of my natural father’s voice; my body, for his larger hands to hold me against his thick-skinned frame. New to this world, my need to be received by my paternal bloodborne ‘tribe’ was met with a harsh reality. They were not there. He was not there. He did try to come home for a spell when I was about two years old. And when he disappeared once more, I breathed deeply into that delicate part of my soul, followed my biological father out the door, and got lost with him. Being lost without him was too much to bear.
Seven years later, I exhaled, took another deep breath in, got my gird up, looked into my stepfather Donald’s eyes and asked him, “Can I call you Daddy?”
“Of course!”, he said.
I exhaled again, shed my distress from birth, and began a lifelong dance born of something inside of me that cannot be named. Deeply connected to my ancestor’s struggles with grief, loss, and unforgiveness, this dance can be described as stepping back into a void with an instinctual, random reach for the ghosts of my ‘missing’ fathers and a quick step forward while extending my other hand toward the love offered by my stepfather. It eventually manifested as involuntary shifts away from a delightful existence and into very painful states of abandonment consciousness throughout life. And the worst of it felt like a portal into heavy burdens of grief carried by the spirits of some who came before me.
Thirty years later, I gave into another spell of despair. And this time, by way of sobbing, I gasped for air in the arms of my mother. She pacified some of my torment by sharing what she could remember of her parents. I released into the ears of an American womb shaman. She freely handed me what wisdom she discovered to restore faith in my womb as a creative and powerful force. I bowed to the Great I AM with the spirits of two African priestesses and a Puerto Rican Christian Prayer Intercessor. I rediscovered my center, my faith. I vented to whomever amongst my family and friends would listen. I called them “my team”.
The first priestess knew nothing of my sorrow before we met. Yet, her and the womb shaman’s spiritual reading revealed one of my ancestral villages where foreigners had come in and took all our men away. We were unclear as to whether these men were taken away in the slave trade. But the trauma and grief from losing them sparked such a stinging shockwave of heartbreak over the generations that the gulf between the sexes seemed permanent. I was born into this family condition. And seemingly endless, any attempt to close the gap and repair the damage over time had failed. Instead, the grief played out as furthering the trauma of abandonment. We were close to healing, but it was blocked by an old, worn out belief that this wicked distortion was everlasting. Supported by society around us, an entire culture seemed built upon the tensions created by keeping our men and women from coming together, healing the pain, and being better. This made it extremely difficult for the trauma to experience its full integration into our intuitive world. Becoming one of the ancient daughters reborn, I found my quiet soul in possession of an innate drive that would stop at nothing before witnessing a genuine, heart and spirit felt reconciliation.
To revisit, reframe, and reprocess old physical, emotional, and spiritual imbalances so that they are healed at the deepest levels is difficult. But it has proven to be rewarding work for me. So, when my stepfather transitioned in 2014, I knew I could no longer ignore the inner girl who needed him at age 9. After I christened him ‘dad’, we never revisited my natural father’s absence. Instead, we regenerated and sustained a part of my femininity and softness. His stepping in kept me light and airy. So, naturally, his love reframed my initial loss. It taught me that to need the tenderness of my father is not a weakness. It is my human right as a daughter. His love awakened the broken part of me that demanded to be protected, saved, and valued. And as our relationship matured, I denounced my natural father, Oscar, judging him unworthy.
Donald later realized that no matter how much inner ground his stepping in covered; it did not save me from the truth that he did not sire me. And when I agreed to take on this blood born breach and mend it for good, I am grateful that he remained present. With each conversation, I safely loosened my impression of Oscar’s absence and centered on observing the steps it took to reconnect with him. That is when Donald left this world. Roaming, yet again, I had done enough work to interpret loss as a part of life. But I had not done enough to break free of the energy attached to wanting my natural father. Again, I was that young daughter, adrift in a forest, searching for him. This time there was nowhere to turn and no one to step in. And for the first time since childhood, I felt pure loneliness.
In solitude, I learned to sit with every emotion that surfaced, allowing them to completely assimilate into my personal experience. I began to sense the ‘understanding life’ within me laboring to open space for JOY to expand and grow. But this was no picnic. My water broke with the shedding of what seemed a river of tears for my fore mothers and fathers, making even more space for this newfound JOY to take hold. Eventually, a dainty, tender, and vulnerable quality that only a young daughter could feel for her father returned. This was that fragmented, subtle portion of my soul. And without fear of losing it, I allowed it to wash over me. With it, I finally encountered the miracle of my psyche in its original, sensitive, and supple state. The dis-ease from grief gradually soothed and shifted. Excitedly and honestly, I retrieved my ability to recognize, receive, and return a wider range of human emotion from the rift within. This notable growth primed me for the text message I received from my aunt on May 24, 2017 announcing that my paternal grandmother had transitioned into the ancestral realm. It would be at her funeral that I would finally meet my biological father as a woman.
Of course, I arrived with apprehension and hurt from a 47-year-old wound. Anything could have happened. But what transpired was completely unexpected. As soon as our eyes met, we hugged. As a teenager, I once told the universe that if I could meet my father at least once, we would wrap our arms around each other and exchange the words “I love you”. Well, that long-awaited moment had arrived. To hear him phrase the words and feel his hands pulling me into him had manifested in this life. An example of ‘love incarnate’, I am sure my late grandmother Celia’s spirit rejoiced! I could feel the converging of our ancestors and the pride they carried for our reunion.
When we could steal away some time alone, I bravely breathed into that soft and supple part of my ‘self’ in his presence. I also opened the gate to my broken heart, allowing his truth to harmonize with the wound. As he explained why he walked away from us, I passionately listened. He felt familiar, yet strange to me. I needed him and I did not need him. I loved him so much and did not know why I loved him. Despite my confusion, once and for all, the abandoned little girl within absorbed my father’s story. I could finally ditch the decayed belief that my birth status was a permanent mark – a curse. I exchanged it for the universal truth that all conditions are temporary and can be returned to an unrestricted state. To that end, my stepfather’s choice to be a part of my life was not in vain. And the opportunity to reconnect with my natural father proved itself invaluable. Forgiving Oscar and my forefathers was the only thing left to do. For them, for me, and for my children, it was important to ritualize and scribe this reach.
I found an old Hawaiian forgiveness exercise called Ho’oponopono. Ho’oponopono is a short, sweet and effective practice designed to shift the consciousness from one atmosphere to another by stating “I’m sorry. Please forgive me. I love you. And, I thank you.” I wish that the six seconds it takes to say those words was all it took to shed my intergenerational residue and move on. But the truth is, that after meeting Oscar, this effort drew about three years of my life before it came to light. For those ancient abandoned ancestors who died with anger, I called upon Buddhist thought to transform it. For the younger ancestors who hurt each other through abuse and ignorance, I chose the path of ‘radical forgiveness’ as taught through Christ consciousness. For my ‘self’, I chose Ho’oponopono. Once and for all, I evolved past unforgiveness, released the hurt and the seductive strains that came with recreating the upheaval over the generations, and set myself free. In the spirit of sharing, what follows is the meditation prayer that accelerated the change.
Forefathers, I am sorry.
I arrived on this earthly plane knowing the ‘void’ and feeling the pain from losing you. What I lacked was understanding. To those of you who did not leave by choice, but were taken away from my foremothers, I am so sorry for judging that a ‘catastrophe’ created solely by you. Generations later, when your energy tried desperately to restore us to our rightful place, the wounds would not allow love to close in. To every soul who did not know or misunderstood the reasons for our internal suffering, we are so sorry. By holding on to the strong defenses associated with abandonment, grief, and loss, we pushed you away and caused harm upon you, ourselves, and our children. Right now, I forgive myself. Right now, we forgive ourselves. Right now, we are free from judgement and guilt.
Forefathers, please forgive me.
To my natural father, facing this world without the love and security instinctively provided by your presence was hellish. And, though I had no control over how I responded to your abandonment as a toddler, today, I am granted a second chance. Forgive me for thinking and acting toward you from a place of anger and cruelty. Those feelings felt better…more concrete…safer than longing for you to come back to us, your family…your blood. I did not respect you. I felt that opening myself up to you and anyone who walked in your brand of ‘manhood’ was detrimental to my mental health and overall sense of wellness.
Forgive me for not empathizing when my mother explained to me how you cried over the passing of my oldest brother who entered this world stillborn. He remains nameless. I did not care about you, the first-born son of a sharecropper in a remote town in Georgia. Forgive me. When your sister shared that, along with my grandfather and aunts, you slaved each day to make a meager week’s pay to feed the family, my heart went numb. Forgive me. What did your eyes see in your father who struggled to find some sense of peace with his state of existence? Forgive me for not asking. Forgive me for not trying to understand.
To you and my beautiful ancestral fathers, forgive me for staking you to my altar of rejection and regret. For holding you to what I decided you owed your first daughter. For the distorted sense of entitlement that made acting out of anger so easy. For continuing, well into maturity, to hold you accountable for agony which had ‘everything’ and ‘nothing’ to do with the truth. Forgive me for returning to you the same dismissiveness and disregard that I felt you have handed me.
To my fathers of the past, present, and future – made and created by me and my mothers, forgive me for forgetting you. Forgive me for behaving as though we are not connected by blood, consciousness, and spirit. As I hurt you, I damaged myself and any one I encountered. That ends as I receive your forgiveness. That ends as I AM forgiven. That ends as we are forgiven.
Forefathers, I love you.
I love you just because you are the tens of thousands of fathers who came before me. I look like you. I am you. And to love myself is to love you. We are not perfect. But we are perfectly US. And though it seems sad that short random phone calls when the spirit hits are all we may ever have here on earth; it is one step closer to what some of our parents had in this space. It is one step closer to love. One step further on our paths of evolution. I will seed it, and let it grow through the love I have with all other members of our family. More than ever, with my sons, your grandchildren. Each embrace I share with them is one for you. Each kiss on their cheek is a stroke of care for you and your seed that continues in this earth. Each is a return to the unconditional, to love, to the eternal, to infinity.
Forefathers, I thank you.
For playing your role in bringing me to the earth to experience the beauty of being human. The lessons enrich my spirit and are priceless. Thank you for this opportunity to make peace with our past sufferings. Upon this journey I rediscovered “my joy”. You taught me that no one is more responsible for truly knowing me and loving me than I am. Thank you for showing me that being born here did not entitle me to your physical presence. It did, however, purpose me into playing a role in manifesting our reconnection with each other, our family, our ancestors. Thank you for assisting in fostering a deep appreciation for people who choose to show kindness and love in any form. I do not take it for granted.
Father, I thank you for trying. I know you tried. Because you loved my mother and conceived me. And when you walked away because you were in no position to give us your best, you taught me to accept nothing less from the man I would marry and/or create with here on earth. In a deeply spiritual sense, I am thankful for you taking this hit. For getting lost in this sometimes heartless, unflinching world and choosing to suffer with yourself all these years. You took this journey for me. And the miracle of that revelation is ‘your back’, on which I stand. It is the foundation for the restoration of JOY. It is the knowledge that in another place we are reunited. Yes, we got lost together out there, somewhere. But in finding our way back to each other, if but for a moment, we have joy! And no matter the disconnect experienced in this physical realm over the years, nothing will possess the power to take that away…ever again. You are appreciated. You are forgiven. And you are loved from here to eternity and beyond. And from this day forward, that will be our endless and everlasting truth.
©2020 by InnaRae Johnson Guy
Photos by Efikoko Studios.