Forgiveness can seem like a slippery concept. Every human on earth has a different idea of what action should, or should not, be forgiven; each person knows people whom they will, or won’t ever, forgive. Some terrible behavior, or speech, or implication about a person may cement for life the way they feel about forgiveness. In fact, it often does, and I, for one, only recently got a handle on what forgiving myself meant.
One thing that forgiveness is not, is saying to someone who I forgive, but not believing it in my heart. If I say “I forgive,” but under my breath, or in my head, think but I was right and you were wrong, the words do nothing more than put up another wall around me. Forgiveness, to be actualized, has to mean no ill will and no bad or angry feelings. No resentment over the fact that I am forgiving this person for this awful, or even not awful, but thoughtless or unkind act.
And, as if the idea of letting go of fears or resentment or anger isn’t enough,
I found that forgiving myself is even harder a task than forgiving someone else. Stop and think, just for a moment, about things in your life that need forgiveness. Here, in a very simplified form, are some events and non-events, feelings, and mistakes, for which I have forgiven myself just recently.
- For hating my body for almost all of my life
- For running away from difficult situations
- For ignoring the gifts around which I could have focused my life
- For feeling guilty about “putting my family through” all of the frightening phases of my life, rather than giving them credit for loving me enough to be there
- For holding for myself such unreachably high expectations
- For believing that in misery was the only way I could live my life
- For ignoring my diabetes, and leaving myself vulnerable and immersed in serious side-effect conditions
I am relieved to say, I have forgiven what I thought unforgivable about myself. Even the darkest, deepest secrets of my life, which I wouldn’t admit to anyone, I have forgiven.
This was not a gentle process, achieved over time. The decision hit me like a bolt — I finally saw that I was just who I was, that holding those actions and thoughts against myself added nothing positive to my life, and that forgiving myself would allow me to grab on to the happiness I’d chosen, with no reservations at all.
Do I know how this happened? Not really. I do know, however, that by forgiving myself for all the faults I held onto for so long, by removing this giant ball of guilt, I opened a clear path to allowing myself to be who I am. Finally.