June 29th, 2013
While I was travelling in Greece in May I happened to meet a small grey haired woman who was lugging a napsack as well her big pulley suitcase as we arrived into the Crete airport. It was a rather unusual sight and so I struck up a conversation with her. She was from Germany and was also travelling on her own and we decided to meet later that evening for dinner.
We settled down at a table overlooking the ocean at a typical greek restaurant and enjoyed an animated conversation about where we had travelled in the past. We had both been to many places and it was fun to discuss them with her.
I then asked her whether she had ever been to Isreal. Her eyes dropped down and she quietly replied that no, she had never been to Israel. I gently asked her why not. She looked up and said, "Well, our histories are somewhat connected." I smiled and acknowledged that this was true. She seemed suddenly quite subdued and I said that over the years of doing my counselling, I have come to realize that in many ways we are all the same. The Germans certainly made some terrible errors but possibly many people had no idea what was happening until it was too late to change the tide of the Holocaust.
At that statement she looked up at me with a painful expression on her face and said; "That is what I can't understand. My parents and my grandparents never joined the Nazi party but they also never DID anything. In a crazy way, I feel responsible for everything they didn't do."
I sat, staring at her face which was riddled with shame and felt stunned by the full burden of her guilt. There was no way out in this story. The past will never be over in her mind until she forgives herself. And her family.
Do you have something that you find hard to forgive yourself for? Or is there someone in your life who you believe you can't forgive? Either way, whether you won`t forgive yourself or someone else, you are still the one that is in prison. Isn't it time to let this go?
If you feel as though you could use some help with this, please let me know. Although we cannot change what has happened in the past, it is very possible to change our perspective of what it meant about us.