There is a beautiful phenomenon that I have been witness to in others (especially those who are on a personal journey of recovery, or those who are near death) and have had a tremendous amount of experience within myself. I call this phenomenon the “Confession of Innocence”. This Confession is an Amazing Enlightenment that bursts forth from someone who has been burdened and secretly tormented by False Guilt, by Imposed Shame, by the Cruelty of Humiliation, when they suddenly realize that it was Not Their Fault, that they are indeed Innocent. Anyone who has been a victim, especially in childhood, and who has had this experience knows what I mean. But this phenomenon is by no means limited to people who fall into this category.
Because I was riddled and overwhelmed by Shame, Guilt and Humiliation for most of my life, I have countless examples I could use to illustrate this, but I will use one that has been underlying many others: Obesity. From the time I was I was about 6 years old, I was considered overweight and was teased, tormented, shamed and mocked about it. For forty years I lived under a terrible oppressive guilt about my weight, and it fluctuated up and down all the time. I tried every single diet, I tried every supplement, I tried everything I could to lose the extra weight and keep it off. Nothing was permanent, it always creeped back up and for years I bore a Hatred and Disappointment and Shame about my body that was much Heavier than the pounds it carried.
At various times in my therapeutic journey I had amazing “Ah Ha” moments when I would suddenly see that my body was Innocent and the Black Pall of Shame would dissolve…and I would Confess my Innocence. I would recognize that my Body was my Friend, not my Enemy. I would see that it was trying to protect me by building a Wall around me, I would see that it was doing everything it could to keep me alive and minimize harm and pain. Under such extreme abuse, it survived, but not without a painful cost of obesity. In so many ways, obesity saved me. It protected me from pregnancy from my father. It kept me Hidden until it was safe for me to emerge. What a relief it was to Discover this! It was just as much of a relief as any Confession of Guilt.
Now my work is to Love my Body every Moment and Embrace the whole Journey that I have with it. That I am still overweight is okay with me. It is slowly changing, but not by force, not by humiliation, not by punishment…but only by Love and Kindness.
I witness this same phenomenon in my work being Present with the Dying, when I am become their Witness as they come to this Confession of Innocence. A person who had been so bound up by some old guilt, and who bore it secretly for many years, will suddenly want to talk. They will want someone to listen to WHAT they did and WHY they did it…as they process it out loud, a soft light comes over their face, they suddenly make gentle eye contact, Rigidity Relaxes in their body and almost always Tears of Relief stream down their faces when they see that all those years of guilt and self hatred were not founded, that they were Innocent, at the place of the Soul.
It seems that it is so often when a person realizes that whatever it was, a Sexual Indiscretion, a Lie, a Frantic Cheat, a Grudge held…it was done from a place of fear, blindness, unresolved anger and hurt. Then it becomes a Sordid, Festering Mental, Emotional and Spiritual Torment that plagues them in the Back of their Mind for years and years. Some people cannot die until they Resolve the issue, until they can come to this place of Self Understanding, of Self Acceptance…until they can Confess Their Innocence.
I am not suggesting that we are not all responsible for all of our actions, of course we are, but I am talking about the Illusion of Power that turns into Self Condemnation. I actually believed for decades that I was Guilty of some Deep Human Crime for being Overweight. I was under the Illusion that I had the Power to Change it by Accusation and Punishment and Hatred. What I am suggesting here is that at the place of our Soul, it seems to me that most of us are fundamentally Good and that we do not deserve the Solitary Confinement of Self-Hatred that we put ourselves in. And for some, the Freedom of Death will elude them until they know this.
The movie “Les Miserables” is a magnificent work that beautifully illustrates much of what I am trying to say..especially if you look at all the characters in that movie as parts of the Self.
Is stealing a loaf of bread to save yourself or another really a Crime?
Was becoming overweight to Buffer my body during Rape really a Shameful, Disgusting, Punishable Human Crime? Or was a Magnificent Act of Courage and Self Preservation?
With Confidence in Innocence,
Gabriel Orion Marie