Amanda Daniels is a Milwaukee-based musician and dedicated vegan. She has had the opportunity to tour the United States, Europe, and Australia as a member of the now defunct metallic hardcore band Enabler. Her bass playing can be heard on Enabler's All Hail The Void, La Fin Absolue Du Monde, and various other EPs, as well as playing with her new band Knaaves. In 2015, Amanda explained her reasons for leaving Enabler when she told her side of the story through various interviews, but it wasn't until multiple first-hand accounts surfaced (and a conversation with Kim Kelly from Noisey) that the metal pundits started to believe her. However, these days Amanda will tell you she is all about forgiveness and in the following article she explains how she got to that place and how Knaaves is helping with that.
- Jamie Kerwin (Knaaves, guitar)
New Year’s Eve I ran into someone who commended me for my bravery. They told me their generation didn’t talk about such things -- abuse was just a part of life we continuously silently swept under the rug. With the rise of callout culture (a term that makes me cringe) and the “me too” movement many have now been able to find their voices. This is a beautiful possibility I feel the platform of social media has helped make possible. We must take action; giving rise to voice is the first step in an interminable journey to reach equality and the end of abuse.
I’ve been struggling to write this article for the better part of a year. I feel that the subject, forgiveness, is yet another topic left in the dark. It is what lies on the other side of the anger and righteousness. Is it the path to freedom from all past hurt and wrongful deeds, whether these things have happened to you or you have imparted hurt unto another. (And who of us in this human existence hasn’t?)
Yet, how does one even begin to forgive? When the weight of wrong rests so heavily, the past bears through to the present. One must simply learn to let go. The past is past, leave it there. Be in the now.
I feel unequipped to be a source of advice on any kind of healing as most of my story is one of what not to do. I am very much still in a place of recovery. The focus here is not what I did after I left but what I am doing now. Though in all of my “what not to do’s” I have learned that all life experiences bring a lesson, there is always something to learn and a way to grow positively. You can always choose where you place focus. Dwelling on the negative or the “why” continues to perpetuate these thoughts and feelings. Choosing to forgive allows another situation in which one can choose to practice compassion and forgiveness in place of holding onto anger and resentment.
Photo: Luke Mouradian
It took a long time for me to stop being angry, and I’m not sure it’ll ever completely go away. I’m learning to stop looking at life as a continuous existential question and constantly lamenting, “Why?”. To get to the true essence of forgiveness you must move out of the “victim mentality.” Accepting what has occurred, learning to see things for what they are and accepting that I cannot change it was my first step to finding peace and learning to let go. I struggled with the concept of forgiveness for quite some time.
I constantly forgave others for the smallest slights and for unspeakable things. I was raised to turn the other cheek, but I discovered that forgiving started to feel like condoning. I realized all along I had been forgetting to forgive one very important person, myself. I began acknowledging the confusion between condoning and forgiving. Forgiveness is not allowance, or justification. It is not saying, “This is ok.” True forgiveness is letting go. It is a pardon, remitting whatever action begs forgiveness into its particular place in time and space and leaving it there. It is saying, “This can no longer hurt or influence me.” It is reclaiming power over your own life and emotion. This is how you move forward, through forgiveness.
True forgiveness is letting go. It is a pardon, remitting whatever action begs forgiveness into its particular place in time and space and leaving it there.
Letting go of anger is essential to any healing process. Anger is a very strong emotion. It is like poison to the mind and it lingers. When you carry anger with you, anytime a memory arises or a past event is spoken of the anger will resurface again and again. You cannot move on as intended if you do not set aside hurt and pain, rage, sadness, depression. These are, of course, very natural human emotions and not a single one of us is exempt from their experience. But emotions are just that: a passing experience. To get to the true essence of forgiveness one, the ego, must set oneself aside in some ways. Hurt cannot be healed when it is still being held on to. Turning the other cheek is not turning a blind eye. It doesn’t mean something didn’t happen, it is not forgetting.
If you feel as though someone (or yourself) is undeserving of your forgiveness, trust that in each of us pain is real whether it is exuded on the surface or not. Most try to shove it away -- the wrong we do to others -- never dealing with it. It is carried with us and we suffer. Know that they suffer because of their own actions. Their soul will remind them on a regular basis. No one goes without this.
Compassion can be found in knowing that most people that impart pain unto others are acting from a place of great personal pain themselves, unmanaged and manifesting so terribly they act out. It is something within themselves, and unfortunately those that we love most and hold close bear the brunt. If anything forgive to free yourself. You are worth it.
If you find it difficult to forgive the people in your life that have done you harm you may start with yourself! Forgive yourself for whatever may have happened. Take back the parts you feel are lost, these parts are yours. This is to become whole again, to love yourself. It is not selfish. If you cannot begin with yourself how can you with anyone else? Take action, don’t wallow. That is, unless wallowing is your needed course of action. Allow yourself infinite time to wallow until you can’t bear to do it any longer. Even though I know it seems impossible to get out of bed some days, or off the couch some days, or to stop staring at a screen some days – just start! Do absolutely anything. Take a moment; disengage from life so that you may reengage. It is also helpful to move your body and have your blood flowing. Try doing something to bring yourself back into yourself and your body. Don’t feel guilty for taking this time for yourself or for doing anything that you need to do for yourself. Talk to people. Talk to friends and family, talk to your parents. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to them seek the help of a professional. Communication is key. The only way out is through.
As for playing music again, music is the language of the soul. So how do you impart that? How do you open it up when you were shut down so completely and living in survival mode, fight or flight, and only doing what you do to get through the day?
What do you do to become a person? Wake up, brush your teeth, feed the cats. Go through the motions. Learn to find comfort in small things, little joys. Practice gratitude. Be so ecstatically grateful for the little things, if only for a short moment in a day. That’s where it starts. Through practice the rest will come.
I didn’t believe I was truly worthy of anything on my own. A lot of the journey to coming back is learning your own self-worth. It’s learning how to trust again -- in others and also yourself. It is grueling, hard work. It can feel like living in a continuous state of discomfort. We’ve all heard the cliché, “Life begins on the edge of your comfort zone,” and it rings true. That’s ok though. Discomfort is just the beginning. It may be a lesson on the journey but it is not where it ends, that’s not what it’s all about.
Remember what has happened to you, what people have done to you and that what you have done is not who you are. It is what you do with the culmination of these experiences that shapes who you will become. I could wallow around for the rest of my life lamenting the loss, crying about how badly I was hurt. “Life is suffering” -- so we all have heard, a cold fact of life. Life is also what you make of it. Everything on this plane of existence exists in duality; there is always another side. It is all about what side you seek and what you do with it. There is always the opportunity to choose to forgive. When you forgive, you grant the freedom to move forward: the freedom to live.