Of all the spiritual practices, forgiveness – of others and myself – has proven one of the most elusive and painful challenges for me.
I sometimes feel as if I’m going through the motions, but my heart isn’t following along.
I sometimes forget, I sometimes am distracted and forget my resolve. Deep old habits are not simple to let go of.
I’ve always had a judgmental streak in me; it runs in the family. And due to the cyclone in my head, I’ve done considerable damage to other people in my life.
And to me.
I am a fearsome critic of myself. Nobody can say anything about me that I have not said to myself a thousand times.
Generally, I don’t believe I deserve to be forgiven by my many mistakes. I’m afraid to let myself off the hook, would that keep me from making the same mistakes again?
I am responsible for myself, I can’t just give me a blanket pardon.
When I think of the grave mistakes I have made, my heart jumps right up almost into my mouth.
Perhaps this is why I am so determined to live in the now.
I used to think I was just afraid to face the truth about myself, but I think I see myself pretty honestly these days.
A good therapist told me one day to tell myself this when I want to forgive myself: “I will forgive myself for as long as I can, and as often as I can. I will forgive myself when I am able.”
I remind myself that I am human and that humans make mistakes.
I remind myself that I have learned a great deal more from my mistakes than from my successes. I remind myself that I am trying to be better.
None of us are created perfect.
For reasons that are not clear to me, these messages work. They get me unstuck.
My eagerness to be authentic, and to never lie to myself has helped me more than anything.
I can’t bear to lie, and I can’t abide being lied to. I’ve learned that intensions matter.
My intention to forgive myself is in itself the beginning, the seed of that forgiveness. It has already begun to untangle my heart, gripped in the struggle to let go of my guilt and regrets.
When I turn to blaming myself, I go deeper, I pause and take some time to connect with the broken parts of me, the thoughts and feelings of blaming that have always been a part of my life.
And I feel better.