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**Opening music credit to Matthew West – Forgiveness **

There are a few things that I wish I could redo in my life. I know that it is important to move forward with no regrets but I believe that most of us have a few things that, given the chance, we would redo. I consider them the mulligans. I’ve never done anything that I haven’t fully recovered from, but I know that my life would’ve been easier if I, as the saying goes, knew then what I know now.

One of the mulligans in my life is that I wish I would’ve had the knowledge about dreaming, goal setting, and planning  that I do now. I wish that I would have had someone teach me about goal setting and visioning. I wish that someone would have inspired me to take more risks rather than playing it safe. I wish that I would’ve known early on to look at my own core values because I feel that knowing those would’ve made my life a lot neater in the early years.

When I was 16, I met my first wife. By the time we were 20 years old, we were married. Our lives were following the path that our parents had laid – get married, have a solid job, have kids, grow older and, for goodness sakes, to not take risks!  I remember telling my wife and friends during my early 20s that I felt like I was in my 40s (at that point in my life, 40 seemed pretty old and had a certain stigma to it….if I only knew then what I know now lol!)

I realize now that I was far too young to be married. I felt mature but I really hadn’t had a chance to live my own life.

The first years of our marriage were quite content. Our life felt normal. Four years after we were married, we were blessed with the birth of our daughter, Alyssa. And, two years later with the birth of our son, Alexander. As I mentioned earlier, Aly and Alex are my Big Why. However, I did not fully realize it at that time.

Just prior to Alyssa’s birth, my wife’s grandmother passed away very suddenly. She had gone into the hospital for day surgery. When it was completed, she hopped out of bed to leave and had an aneurism. She died in seconds. The entire family was devastated. My wife was incredibly close to her grandmother and she took the death very hard. She did not know how to handle the emotions very well and she would often release her pain in the form of meanness towards others including me. The births of Alyssa and Alexander provided a huge amount of joy into our lives, but much of the pain that had been directed towards me by Janet had left some scars that I could not overcome.

We were not very happy and even some of her family members pulled  me aside one night to encourage me to get counselling to improve my happiness. I heard this to mean “get a divorce” because we had had some counselling and I did not think that Janet could change.

Or, at least that’s what I tell myself. Janet has a different interpretation of what happened that caused me to ask for a divorce when Alex was 18 months old. All I know for certain is that I did not want to be in a relationship with her at that point in my life, and that I didn’t want my children to see me unhappy and think that was a normal relationship. So, on a cold November evening, Janet and I had our last fight as a married couple (there would be others as parents). I told her that she could no longer control me to which she responded something like “what are you going to do, divorce me?” to which I responded yes. Then,  I packed a backpack, gave my children a kiss on the foreheads (they were asleep) and walked 10 km through a snow storm to spend the evening at my parents to think.

The next day, I went back to my house and talked with Janet. She had already decided that she was going to take my words seriously, and she was discussing how to divide our things and how we would share custody of our children.  I told her that I would give her all of our retirement savings, the home with it’s equity, and that I would take all the non-mortgage debt. I also agreed that I would pay her monthly child support equal to one-half of my gross salary from my current job.  I basically walked away with nothing except that my one condition was that I would have joint custody and ample visitation with Alex and Alyssa.  I am not going to go into huge details of what happened over the next few years in our relationship, but I’ll provide the summary here:

Shortly after the divorce I lost my job

Within three months of paying child support, I was broke and unable to make my car payment

My car was repossessed while I was at a sales meeting for an investment company where I was just hired

Janet sold the house and took a government position in a city 100 kms away. My visitation was changed to every other weekend

I could not afford the $ 1,480 child support payments so I went to court to have them reduced.

I could not find any work as there was a mini-recession in the late 1990s. I did what I could to survive but had to frequent food banks for some of my meals

I became depressed and started smoking and drinking. I was in a few, new relationships but none of them were the right person for me. Very often they cheated on me, were addicted to increasing harder drugs, or were mean to my children. I think on a certain level I attracted these people to me because I did not feel that I deserved to be happy – the guilt that I carried for leaving my children was often overwhelming and I had a few moments where I considered the option of suicide because I thought they would be better off without me.

Throughout all of this, I did what I could to be a good father for my children. I realized that I needed to take a chance so I decided to take out a student loan and go back to University to become a teacher. I had always felt compelled to teach but never saw it on my horizon in my late teens and early 20s.  It was this decision that started the changes that would begin my climb out of my abyss.  I relished in the university environment. I completed my Bachelor of Arts Degree in Business and Liberal Studies and then went on to complete a Bachelor of Education degree. I took this knowledge and travelled to Italy for 6 weeks to study the renaissance and then I spent a year teaching English in Korea.

These decisions were done for selfish reasons.

I know that.

But I felt that I needed to be selfish for a short period of my children’s lives so that I could return as a better man. I wanted to show them that anything was possible. I was the first person in my family (cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents included) to spend so much time away from home. I was the first person in my family to complete a university degree. I was seen as a Black Sheep among my family and some of them told me that they did not agree with my decisions and that I should stay close to my children. But I didn’t listen.

Then, when I returned from overseas, I found a job teaching middle school in a town only 40 minutes away from where my children were. I felt like all these tough decisions were now going to pay off. I had employment and I had a story to tell. I had experiences that I could share with my children to inspire them. But it wasn’t that easy.

What I was lacking was this:

I didn’t know who I wanted to be. And, I had never forgiven myself for leaving my children and for failing in my marriage.

I was still doing the steps that I thought were necessary to be “a good man” but I never really considered what that looked like to me. This is important because, without that image, it was easy for me to lose focus. And I did lose focus.

I did not deal with the guilt that I still had. I did not have the tools to forgive myself.

I kept entering into poor relationships. I was still smoking and drinking and, yes, I did some recreational drugs. I felt self-destructive and I did not know why. I had mounting debts and dwindling income from teaching. I was a sessional instructor and was not given full-time work. I used to blame the administration but I see now that the person that I was at that time, was not the person that they wanted to have teaching children.

Then it happened. One evening, when I was dropping off the children to return to Janet, Janet passed me an envelope. Inside the envelope she wrote “Dear Christian, I know that we are both to blame for the divorce. I wish that we could’ve done more to work on the relationship but I know now that we were too young and not the right people for each other.  I know that you are doing the best that you can to help raise our children and I am grateful for that. And, for what it is worth, I forgive you for what you felt you had to do”

Or, it was something like that.

I don’t remember the exact wording but I do remember clearly that she recognized that I was doing what I could to be a good father,

And I remember clearly that she forgave me. And that made all the difference. I think that she could see that I was heading down a dangerous path for myself. And, I will always be grateful to her for giving me that card.

That card was the proverbial olive branch that helped us to move pass the tense animosity that we often held to a more respectful place with each other.

Recently, I’ve embraced the power behind forgiveness.

Forgiving doesn’t mean that you have to like the person, or love the person. I used to hear of stories where the parents of a child who was murdered by a person say that they forgive the murderer. I would often find myself feeling disgusted.

How could they?

Then I began to realize the truth. Forgiveness isn’t a gift that you give to the person who wronged you – it is a gift that you give to yourself. It is a letting go of negative energy that impedes the happiness in your life. As I just said – forgiving someone doesn’t mean that you have to like them. What it means to me is that you are telling them that their actions no longer have any power over you.

I was recently listening to Debra Poneman talk about forgiveness, and she introduced my to the concept of Ho’oponopono.

Ho’oponopono means to make right. Essentially, it means to make it right with the ancestors, or to make right with the people with whom you have relationships.


I did a bit of research and found out this about the practice.


It’s believed that the original purpose of Ho’oponopono was to correct the wrongs that had occurred in someone’s life including Hala (to miss the thing aimed for, or to err, to disobey) and Hewa (to go overboard or to do something to excess) which were illusions, and even ‘Ino (to do harm, implying to do harm to someone with hate in mind), even if accidental.

This is called the Hawaiian Code of Forgiveness, and it’s an important thought, because when we forgive others, who are we forgiving? Ourselves, of course.

If you are familiar with Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP), there is a saying, “People are only doing the best they can with the resources they have available.”

If you’ve heard that before, it has to do with forgiveness. Think about it. As you do consider that you are included in “people.”

In the Eastern traditions, too, there is a real tradition of being aligned with and cleaning up relations with the ancestors. In Japan, China, as well as the Hawaiian tradition, it is thought to be important to align and clean up any past problems that you’ve had in relationships, especially with relatives.

At the same time, perhaps there are family patterns you do not want. Certainly you have heard the saying, “We just don’t do that in our family,” or “That’s the way it is in our family.” What happens then, is that certain generational themes get passed along in families, like sadness or any number of different traits. Ho’oponopono will allow you to clean this up.

So here is the theory:

We carry inside us as parts of the Unconscious Mind, all the significant people in our lives.

Ho’oponopono makes it “all right” with them. The process of Ho’oponopono is to align with and clean up our genealogy as well as to clean up our relationships with other people in our lives.

The Process of Ho’oponopono, according to Ancient Huna, is this:

  1. Bring to mind anyone with whom you do not feel total alignment or support, etc.
  2. In your mind’s eye, construct a small stage below you
  3. Imagine an infinite source of love and healing flowing from a source above the top of your head (from your Higher Self), and open up the top of your head, and let the source of love and healing flow down inside your body, fill up the body, and overflow out your heart to heal up the person on the stage. Be sure it is all right for you to heal the person and that they accept the healing.
  4. When the healing is complete, have a discussion with the person and forgive them, and have them forgive you.
  5. Next, let go of the person, and see them floating away. As they do, cut the aka cord that connects the two of you (if appropriate). If you are healing in a current primary relationship, then assimilate the person inside you.
  6. Do this with every person in your life with whom you are incomplete, or not aligned.
    The final test is, can you see the person or think of them without feeling any negative emotions. If you do feel negative emotions when you do, then do the process again.

Debra Poneman explained it as bringing to mind a person and then saying these 4 simple phrases:

  1. I’m sorry
  2. Please forgive me
  3. Thank you
  4. I love you

Practicing these four phrases during a quiet meditation works wonders for my psyche. I acknowledge that I have regret. I ask for forgiveness. I show gratitude. And I end with a feeling of love.

There are numerous online interpretations of this practice. Some have meditation tracks included. I would encourage all of you to practice this exercise daily and to note how it affects your lives.

Shortly after Janet giving me the letter and forgiving me, I met my current wife, Tania. Tania is the icing on the cake for my life, my relationships with my children and Janet, and for our launch into our happy and successful lives. Janet threw me the lifesaver by offering forgiveness, but Tania is the one that performed the CPR! It was at that point that I started to change my life. I began to break off the negative relationships that I had. I stopped smoking and using any illicit drugs, and I stopped drinking to excess. Tania got me involved in some personal development courses and, as a graduate of the courses herself, she was able to communicate with me in a loving yet firm way. She taught me the concept of “driving needs” – these are the needs that I need to have met each day either constructively or destructively. She also introduced me to an entirely different group of people whom also shared the same desires to become better people.

But, best of all, Tania was the catalyst that brought me closer to my children and to Janet. Tania brought with her a lovely daughter, Emma, and welcomed Alex and Alyssa into her life. As a blended family, we have created something that most other divorced couples could only see as a fairy tale or fantasy. Janet and Tania have become good friends and will often go shopping or to the spa together. Janet remarried and had a baby girl (Sarah) who refers to me as “Uncle Chris”. Together, Tania, Emma, and I have gone on family vacations with Janet, Sarah, Alex, Alyssa, and Tony to camping resorts and to Disneyland.  Tania and I are always invited to Janet’s family parties and her mother and father treat us as though we are son and daughter to them. My family is not as welcoming, but they still invite Janet and Tony to our family events as well.

It was a long process, and a long story, but what I learned through all of this is that I need to be clear on the man that I want to become. In marketing terms, we talk about marketing to our “avatar” which means our ideal client. I think this term can be applied to myself as well.

Who is my “avatar”?

Who is the man that I need to be so that I can attract the successes that I desire?

I did not attract Tania into my life until I received forgiveness from Janet and was able to not hate myself as much.

I could not begin to see value in my personal worth until I learned to forgive myself.

Tania challenged me to think harder on who I wanted to become and I have risen to that challenge. Each day I become a better person.

This isn’t to say that I am close to being perfect – heavens no! But I now have the image of the person that I want to become and I am well on my way to being that man.

So, who is it that YOU want to become?

When you think about your vision for the future, what sort of person would that person need to be?  This is an important question to ask yourself.

And lastly, who do you need to forgive?

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