To err is human, to forgive, divine.
Anyone who knows me knows (beyond a shadow of a doubt) that I have made many a mistake in my lifetime. There was the perm I got in Grade 7 (while I still had BANGS. Seriously- a perm with bangs!). Or, the first house I bought that was the size of a shoebox. And let’s never forget the time I tried to grow out my eyebrows like Miley (pro tip: if you were born anytime before 1990, you’ve probably damaged your eyebrows with tweezers and should only work with professionals).
Some mistakes that we make are easier to forgive. Others are much, much more difficult. Like the time I got married to the wrong person.
My first marriage turned heartbreakingly abusive shortly after we wed. The first time my then-husband hit me, I was so shocked that I wondered if I had imagined it. I couldn’t believe what had just happened. I mean, hello? I had a degree in this stuff. I knew better! How could I have ever let myself get into something so dangerous? In a split second, I felt reduced to nothing at all.
Even though I didn’t stick around for too much longer, that experience rocked me to the core. I was so angry at him. I was even more angry at myself. It was as if that experience erased everything wise or successful that I had ever done up to that point. I began to see myself as an utter failure.
Has something like this ever happened to you? I’m not just talking about being in an abusive relationship. Have you ever made a big mistake? Something that changed your life, or left you with shattered pieces to pick up?
If I knew then what I know now, I would have stopped torturing the woman that was me with anger. I would have taken such good care of her. Because, I want to tell you something right now. Something that I know for sure:
When you feel like you deserve compassion and love the least, you need it the most.
If you take a bad situation (like a life mistake) and then punish yourself, your suffering will be much worse. Refusing to forgive yourself is simply breeding ground for shame, guilt and depression to grow.
You don’t need to keep yourself in mental jail so that you never make that mistake again.
You don’t have to stop making decisions or stop taking risks because “I suck at making good decisions”.
You don’t have to keep people in your life that mistreat you, abuse you or belittle you because “I don’t deserve anything else”.
Oh, no, my friends. That is not what life is supposed to feel like at all.
Forgiving yourself (like, real forgiving and not drinking a bottle of wine to make yourself feel better), is about detaching from mistakes and looking at yourself with empathy. With compassion. Forgiving yourself means that you understand that part of being human is to make mistakes. Sometimes they are really painful. Sometimes they really hurt others. It sucks. And still- you’re not alone.
Forgiving yourself doesn’t mean that you throw up your hands and declare, “anyway, sorry about bashing in your car, Susan, but I’ve forgiven myself so I’m not taking care of the damage anymore!”. It’s about taking appropriate responsibility to make amends if you need to, and then being willing to release the issue from judgement. This is where true self-growth and a new relationship to the self can emerge.
Is there something that you’ve been holding onto or punishing yourself about? Isn’t it time to make amends and then let it go? What would life feel like if you didn’t have this hanging over you? How would you feel? Jot down some answers to this in a journal, and if you’d like, comment below. I read and respond to every one.
May you be happy,