October 27th: Forgiveness
You know, I was a little concerned about my decision to embark on a multi-day theme here. That was not what I intended when I started this (FYI, I started writing these long before I decided to make it into a blog…so there are plenty of extras should a day come when I can’t write, for some reason)- my intention was to write what my heart and spirit felt called towards via meditation, prayer, or whatever popped into my head during the day that wouldn’t go away. Might sound funky and weird, but…I’m a funky, weird person, so…it fits.
But I worried that deciding ahead of time what I would focus on would interrupt the flow, I guess. Boy oh boy, was I wrong.
Yesterday, I said we’d talk about forgiveness today. Last night, via my dreams, I believe I was finally not only forgiven by a loved one that has been gone nearly twenty years, but I think she was telling me that it was time that I forgive myself. This not only blew my mind, but it confirmed for me that I was on the right path with this.
I know how incredibly strange that might sound to you if you don’t believe in such things. But here’s the thing- I do. I do believe in these things, because they’ve been happening to me my whole life. I’ve been visited by newly dead family and friends, a lot. I’ve had some of the best experiences of my life when I wasn’t even awake. No lie.
So, back to forgiveness. If you are anything like me, you probably carry around a whole lot of extra weight, metaphorically speaking, in: guilt, shame, regret, personal failings, hard feelings, and perhaps even a smidgen of self-loathing.
Might I ever so gently suggest that you consider beginning to let those things go? Because here’s the thing…you are not alone. There is not a person on this planet who does not carry with them those feelings. We are all HUMAN, which means we screw up. We hurt people. We say awful things we can never take back. We embarrass ourselves. We get into trouble. We make bad choices. Every. Single. One. Of. Us.
Forgiveness, especially of ourselves, but also of others, is not something that happens in an instant. At least, it sure wasn’t for me. It’s a place you arrive at slowly, piece by piece. It goes hand in hand with acceptance, by the way- “I acknowledge that this happened, I am sorry that this happened, I am going to try to forgive myself.” And then you begin. You begin to soften towards yourself. You start to try letting go.
One thing that worked for me was, when one of those god-awful memories popped, unbidden, into my mind, more realistic than even the moment it happened, sometimes making me cringe…I would say, out loud, “I’m so sorry.” I did this as often as I needed, and I needed to a lot.
Over time, it really became easier. Time and distance and allowing those memories to surface, not shying away or denying them, has helped a lot. Occasionally, there is still a zinger. But I don’t live in that agonizing space anymore, the constant barrage of “Terrible Things I Did”.
Another useful tool I picked up in recovery was making an amends. There is something to be said for not only acknowledging our behavior, but making an effort to change going forward, and doing something positive to counteract the negative.
Today, I want you to know that forgiveness, especially of yourself, is imperative on the journey to self-love. You can be free of all that weight you carry needlessly, but it is a process. You must face yourself, you must be honest with yourself, you must be gentle with yourself. It will take some time. But you deserve your own forgiveness. You deserve to be happy. No matter what you’ve done, you deserve happiness. I encourage you to start exploring forgiveness today.