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The Wedding Gifts

Perhaps everything terrible is in its deepest being something that needs our love. – Rainer Maria Rilke

Whenever we've been betrayed or disappointed, it's natural to hold on to our pain as a defense mechanism. The voice of anger and hurt always tells us to watch out and be careful. Our pain hardens our hearts and clouds our vision, blinding us to the gifts we have received from our marriage and our divorce. The Law of Choice gives us the freedom to go beyond our past and beyond our negative feelings. It provides us with the tools to look with new eyes at the experiences our marriage provided. The Law of Choice states that we have the power to choose to view our breakup either through the eyes of suffering or with a heart of gratitude.

At this point you may not feel like you are quite ready to be grateful, but your alternatives are bleak. As long as you deny the lessons and gifts that your partner has been trying to give you, you continue to be tied to the very thing you want to break free from. "Setting others free means setting yourself free," says the great spiritual leader Emmett Fox. "When you hold resentment against anyone, you are bound to that person by a cosmic link, a real, though metal, chain. You are tied by a cosmic tie to the thing that you hate. The one person perhaps in the whole world whom you most dislike is the very one to whom you are attaching yourself by a hook that is stronger than steel." Even though you think your anger, hurt, disappointment, and resentment are well deserved, unless you are prepared to carry this person on your back everywhere you go for the rest of your life, you may want to consider forgiveness as the only solution to becoming a whole, complete, free person. When I first began to understand how my resentments bound me to the people I most disliked, I found it almost comical. My intention had been to use my anger to protect myself from being hurt again by those persons who had hurt me before. My bruised ego wanted to create distance between me and my enemies, yet instead of taking something away from them, I was giving them my most valuable asset. By resenting them, I was giving them my energy as well as complete and total power over my emotional well-being. Simply the mention of my enemy's name or a reference to a similar story would set me off. It took no more than seconds to trigger all the bad feelings lying dormant within me. In an instant the person I resented had the power to join me wherever I was. I could be at a party, on a date, or at the supermarket, and if the wrong words were spoken, that person would pop right up in the forefront of my mind, accompanied by all the toxic memories of my past.

These toxic feelings were always with me whether I was conscious of them or not. Someone once told me that you must forgive the people you truly dislike or hate, for only then are they completely out of your consciousness. If you love them, hold on to your resentment and you will be able to bring them with you wherever you go.

We belong to anything we are linked to in a negative way. The frequency currents that hold our negative thoughts in place are so strong that they continually draw forth similar negative experiences. The negative implications of our hate are astounding. Our old resentments drive all our relationships. They tell us how close we can get to others and how thick the walls need to be to maintain emotional safety. They inform our daily behaviors, telling us how many risks we can take. And they build an invisible fence of protection around our hearts.

This kind of safety, however, is an illusion. We are never truly safe from hurt and pain, which is simply a part of life, of living and growing. All living things must grow or they die. The mature leaf crumbles to the ground, creating a space for new growth. My ex-husband said it beautifully the other day: "There is no change without loss." To fully protect ourselves from loss would literally mean that we close the door to all of life's possibilities.

The closest we can come to feeling safe is by trusting and believing that we can and will take care of ourselves through any storm. We are safe when our hearts are filled with love and compassion. We are invulnerable to attack when we are resting in the magnificence and enormity of who we are. If we are kind, nourishing, and loving inside, we attract others who mirror back that love.

Choosing forgiveness is a necessity for good emotional and mental health, for like attracts like. If you choose to come from a place of gratitude and forgiveness, you begin to vibrate at a higher frequency and naturally draw others in who reflect that back to you. If your heart is filled with love and compassion, you continually elicit that love and compassion from others. Similarly, if your mind is full of resentment and judgment, you attract others who are resentful and judgmental or who magnify your emotional pain.

Only you can choose to receive the gifts of your marriage. Otherwise, they remain unopened and unused. Looking at your life through a lens of gratitude allows you to receive the gifts and learn the lessons from your time with your mate. The lens of gratitude is always there. It may need to be dusted off, but if you want to, you can choose to look through it at any time. Finding and embracing your wedding gifts allows you to cut all the karmic cords that link you to your partner in a negative way. Then you can choose to go on with your life. Until we embrace the gifts we received from our marriage, the karmic link to that relationship remains intact. Burdened with the pain of our past, we continue to drag our unhealed emotional issues with us wherever we go. Our past drains the vitality out of our future relationships. What's more, our past is a constant reminder of our fears and all our pain. Holding on to our past is a sure recipe for re-creating similar situations until we learn the lessons that our partners have been trying to teach us. If we don't acknowledge the gifts we were meant to receive, they remain unopened and unavailable to us.

Often I hear, "I've learned the lesson, but I'm not glad it happened." I would suggest that if you feel this way, you have not really received the gifts and embraced the lessons of your marriage. When we have truly learned the lessons taught to us by our former mate, we appreciate and value the experience no matter how difficult it has been. We integrate the experience and use it to make ourselves better people. Once we have digested our experiences, we turn them into a resource that contributes to who we are and how we feel about ourselves.

I guarantee that if you feel really good about who you are, you will appreciate everyone who has added to the recipe that made you. Honoring your experiences instead of dwelling on the pain fosters gratitude and rewards you with the joyous state of emotional freedom.

About the Author: Debbie Ford is #1 New York Times best-selling author, founder of the Ford Institute for Integrative Coaching at JFK University and a life coach. Visit http://www.debbieford.com