I’ve been thinking lately about forgiveness. Not just forgiveness in general–not the kind you give someone else, but the kind you give to yourself.
When you make big mistakes, when you hurt others that you love the most, when you have moments that become the ugliest skeletons in your closet, how do you forgive yourself? This has been a question I’ve had for many years now.
More than a dozen years ago, when my child passed away, there was a member of my now ex-husband’s family that went around saying horrible things about me. When someone approached me and said, “’So and so’ is saying that you killed your baby,” I saw an anger I’d never known in my entire life. It took over everything and was all I could think about. I would sit at work and think about all the ways I wanted to hurt this woman like her cold words hurt me. It very quickly got to a point where I knew I needed to seek out help in figuring out how to let it go because the anger was eating away at me.
The advice that I was given was to forgive her. This shocked me at first because how was I supposed to even think about forgiving someone that could say something so heinous about me?! That was the answer though. “How do I do that?!” I asked. I was told that I needed to just keep telling myself that I forgive her. Every time she popped into my head, I was supposed to remind myself that she is forgiven, until eventually, I truly forgave her.
I can no longer recall how long it took for my anger to stop overpowering me, but eventually, I no longer felt hatred towards this woman. Eventually, I forgave her even. Ever since this, I’ve used this tool in many scenarios with many people because it is effective and gives me inner peace.
Back to my current issue though, I have held onto some intense grief and guilt about something else aimed at myself for many years. I’ve always felt that I didn’t deserve forgiveness. I made some horrible mistakes and I hurt the people most important to me. I didn’t just hurt them, but they are forever impacted and changed by this time period.
Now, because this was from so long ago, I don’t think about it all the time. I don’t dwell every day on the painful memories or even the guilt, but any time it is brought up, that guilt comes rushing right back to the surface. I feel a weight on my chest and I feel strangled, unable to breathe easily. I messed up. Now, we all know that for most of us, we are our own worst critics, and that’s true here too I suppose, but I just haven’t been able to let it go.
A few nights ago, something of the past was brought up and once again, I cried and grieved. As my body shaking sobs slowed, I thought about how long this has been plaguing me for. “Do I deserve my own forgiveness yet?” I wondered to myself, “Do I deserve for it to happen ever, at all?” For the first time, I’m thinking that maybe I do.
So now, I’m trying to figure out getting over that hump and allowing it for myself. I have to figure out after almost 10 years, how do I let go of this? My guess is that it is going to be the same way as it was to forgive the woman that spread those horrible rumors. I have to just keep reminding myself that I am forgiven when it comes to mind. Every time the guilt rises, I need to tell myself that I don’t need to feel that way anymore.
Already, there is some relief. Deciding that I am worthy of my own forgiveness is a big deal. That’s more progress than I’ve made in years and years. I have finally decided though, I deserve it.
If you are hanging onto guilt and grief and unforgiveness of yourself too, I’m encouraging you to take this step with me and choose to lay it down. If you can forgive others, what makes you so much worse? The freedom found in self forgiveness is worth it. You are worth it. So take that step, my friends. Embrace the inner peace. Forgive.
*Picture from Google*