“I Love You,” “I’m Sorry,” “Please Forgive Me,” “Thank You”

One of the most important lessons I’ve learned is that you cannot move into healing without first working through the pain. Pain cannot be avoided. Pain demands to be felt. For a long time, I didn’t believe this—I thought that I could escape pain if I just ran quickly enough—but eventually, pain catches up to you and hits you like a ton of bricks.


My pain was the product of heartbreak. I felt like every part of me had been destroyed. Even parts of me that I did not know existed were shattered—I only became aware of them as I heard their bits and pieces crash and clatter against the ground. I felt empty, and I felt unworthy. I was thoroughly embarrassed, and I felt like a fool; much of my relationship was on public display, so my pain was not afforded the privilege of privacy and was, instead, the point of interest in many homes, a topic of discussion around many tables. During that period, countless people came to me with their thoughts, questions, and support, and yet I felt a poignant and persistent loneliness that I had never experienced before. I was devastated.


Three childhood friends helped me pick up the pieces that summer. They sat with me as I cried, listened to me as I talked, and made sure I knew that I didn’t have to go through the process alone. They did all they could to be present for me as I fell apart, pieced myself back together, fell apart again, and pieced myself back together again.


When summer finally ended, I decided that the cycle needed to be broken, and I threw myself into work and school to stay busy. After a while, though, it became apparent to me that the bandages I laid over my wound would no longer be enough to hold the blood back. I needed stitches, and it was up to me to decide when I was ready to take that step towards closing the wound and finally stopping the bleeding.


While taking classes to become certified in Conflict Management and Mediation, I learned the ancient Hawaiian practice of forgiveness of the Ho'oponopono. The practice is just four lines: “I love you,” “I’m Sorry,” “Please forgive me,” and “Thank you.” These four phrases open waves of emotion and have the power to set you on the path to healing, if you allow them to. I allowed them to. Those four simple lines marked, for me, a pivotal moment of change. They served as the closing chapter of a long story of grief.

I have, since then, decided that pain begins to dissipate the moment that you allow yourself to breathe and begin the active process of forgiveness and, ultimately, letting go—those were the stitches that I needed. I let go of the what ifs and maybes and made it a point to choose myself in every possible way. I reminded myself that while what I was holding onto had its bright moments, I was indeed the sun and could shine all on my own.


I stand today endlessly hopeful. I am hopeful that one day I will fall deeply in love again and that I will look at someone and find a thousand reasons to smile, in addition to the thousand that already lie within me. I feel blessed for having felt pain and heartache because, now, every time I smile, I cherish the moment. It is bliss, it is joy, and it is a small portion of infinity that cannot be erased.


Healing, for me, is practicing gratitude daily. It is breathing and realizing that the bad days are simply that: bad days, not a bad life. It is letting go of things that I cannot control. It is choosing to have faith in my journey and living fiercely everyday, unapologetically.

Chioma NwanaComment