Forgive Me???

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.

Forgive
*Picture from Google*

A Loving Spanking

Friendship is an important aspect of life. We all need the companionship of others and all that comes with it. We need support, we need connectivity, we need affection, and we need to know we are cared about. I think most of us are aware of these needs and how close friends fulfill them. Another aspect of friendship that is much less talked about though is being held accountable; and that is focus of this blog.

Have you ever had a friend tell you you’re messing up? Have you had a friend look you in the face and tell you that you are making mistakes? How about, have you ever had a friend say, “I love you, but you’re wrong about this,” while talking? These are important moments.

No one likes to be told what they are doing is wrong. In fact, I’d say it’s pretty uncomfortable. The thing about this though, is the friends that love you the most are the ones that are willing to lovingly correct you. Fair-weather friends are not going to care enough to point it out when you’re headed in the wrong direction. To them, it’s not worth the risk of upset to call you out, so they don’t.

I have two very good friends in mind as I write this. One is my best female friend that has been in my life since the summer before high school. The other is my “boy bestie” that I have an intense relationship with. No one knows me better than these two do and I’ve written of both several times here before. My girlfriend has seen me at the ugliest moment of my entire life and loved me anyway. My boy bestie and I have spent more time on the phone together than me and any other person combined since the invention of instant messaging and text. I love these two like family. They love me back. This also means that sometimes, they call me out on my own shit.

I’ve made so many mistakes over the last 6 months that you’d think I was trying to set a new personal record. Drinks, men, and many other topics come to mind here. I don’t like writing this stuff out for the world to judge, but as always, if it takes putting my own life on blast to help others with an example, I’ll do it. One thing I can say through all of this is that I’ve been able to talk to my friends about it all. I let them see the ugly parts of me in the faith that they will love me anyway, and they do. But they also love me enough to bring up sensitive issues and correct me when I’m wrong. They do this because they have my best interest in mind.

When I’m getting ready to make the same mistake for like the 100th time, my buddy will tell me, “Niki, don’t do it. Just don’t.” He doesn’t mince his words, nor does he hold back. My girlfriend, being a woman, is a little more gentle with it, but she will do the exact same thing. She will point out when I’m on the wrong path. I won’t lie, there have been times that I’ve been angered by this, but in the end, I always appreciate it. I appreciate that there are those that love me enough to correct me when I’m wrong. I joke that it is a loving spanking, because while correction can hurt, it ultimately does good and is out of love.

These two friends bless my life immensely and I would do anything for them. I appreciate both of them for the unique ways that make them both wonderful. And I deeply appreciate the one big thing they have in common…they have my back.

I encourage you all to be this type of friend to those close to you too. You never know what kind of heartaches you can help prevent by being present, being supportive, but also being honest. How does that saying go…if you can’t find good in the world, BE the good in the world.

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The Figurative Festering Blister

I’ve shot myself in the foot with some of my own actions recently. Here’s the kicker though, while many want to be defensive when they have made not so great choices (which is normal; it’s human nature), I feel it’s extremely important to lay my defenses down in times like this. I feel it’s important and the right thing to do to admit my wrongs with no excuses. This has not been something easy for me to do. I’ve had to make a conscious effort for it and have done better as I’ve gotten older, but it is far from easy. No one wants to look someone else in the face and say, “Yes, I did this, and it was wrong.” It is necessary though.

When someone has felt wronged by you, no matter how slight, it can have an impact. A little splinter to begin with can become infected. It begins to swell, turn red, and get more painful. It festers and begins to produce pus. What started as a tiny sting becomes incredibly tender and painful. You know how you deal with a festering wound that has swelled up? You lance it. For this figurative wound, you lance it by being honest, owning up to what you’ve done, and apologizing. You set a plan for how it will be different because the best apology is changed behavior.

The-best-apology-is-changed-behavior.

This is something I had to do this last weekend. I’ve had to acknowledge where I have made mistakes (even though they were made unintentionally) and make things right. I’ve had to really consider my own choices and how I can make better ones. I think that sometimes we may forget how much we all are not the only ones affected by our choices and consequences. Those around us are affected too.

So, my friends, if you’re reading this right now and there’s someone in your heart and mind that you know you’ve wronged in some way, I encourage you to reach out. Admit your mistakes without any excuses, apologize, and then change your future behavior. There is not only healing for the other person, but it’s healing for your own heart too.