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Forgiving yourself for being human — 7 Comments

  1. Joyce, this is a VERY timely article and a topic that truly resonates with me. I have had a terrible challenge getting to self-forgiveness.

    I’ve done countless things that I’m sorry for having done. Absolutely. I believe that every human being has. But, self-flagellation doesn’t seem to work. The more I beat myself up, the LESS forgiveness I experience, especially from others. Self-flagellation is an activity that I engaged in throughout my lifetime in the HOPES (just like the monks) that SOMEONE would recognize just how sorry I was for my mistakes and FORGIVE me……which translates into “validate me.” This self-flagellation and martyrdom gave me every excuse to remain a VICTIM and just give in to every terrible thing that I had been assured that I was.

    Forgiveness of self, IMHO, is vital to recovery. Without this single act, I will be unable to free myself of remaining a willing victim. Yes, I typed it: “willing victim.” I’ve forgiven myself for some of the things that I can clearly remember having done. There are other things that I will never remember – having spent so much time either stoned or drunk during my teenaged and college years, only God knows what I did! LOL (I HAVE to laugh because I was such a mess!)

    Today, I’m sick and tired of BEING sick and tired in my mind, heart, and body. One tiny ant-step at a time, I’m recovering.

    Thanks so much for this article, Joyce.

  2. You’re very welcome, Truthy. There are MANY STEPS on the road to healing that we must climb. I think “forgiving” the abuser is one–and that means “getting the bitterness out of our heart” against them, but forgiving OURSELVES I think is just as critical, we must get that bitterness out of our own heart TOWARD US.

    It is impossible in my opinion to have PEACE when we are bitter, filled with wrath and hate, or blame others for the choices we made…we must come to accept that we did what we did, we can’t change it for better or worse, and we need to stop with the beating ourselves already.. It accomplishes nothing.

    Funny thing, I think God has forgiven me for my “sins” but I couldn’t forgive myself and kept on punishing myself for being less than perfect, for making mistakes and for doing things I knew were wrong. But you know, I look at it this way, if GOD can forgive me, what gives ME the right to go on beating myself?

    I will reference back to the story of King David in the Bible. David did some pretty nasty things, like adultery and murder, and enabling his son Absolom yet he was called “a man after God’s own heart”— why would God say that about such a guilty man? Well, I think the reason is that DAVID REPENTED, truly REPENTED when he was confronted about his sins.

    I think the point of the entire story is that God doesn’t expect us to be perfect, to never do things we know are wrong, but to truly REPENT and quit with the self punishment. With our children when they are little and do something “bad” we discipline them, and when we see that they have truly repented we let it drop, we don’t go on beating them for days, weeks, months or a life time because they disobeyed and broke the cookie jar when they were five. That would not be productive but instead COUNTER-PRODUCTIVE so why do we continue to “beat” our own inner child for what we did 30 years ago?

  3. I have a difficult time with forgiveness of others. I know this of myself and struggled with it for a while. With all of the insults and hurt that the spath cast in my direction, I have a difficult time letting it go. I have come to terms with it on some level and I pray for those I cannot yet forgive.

    I pray that they find some healing for their errant deeds and twisted thoughts. I pray for them as if they were sick, because they really are, when you consider it. I know of one person who does not forgive people as that, to her, is allowing them back in to hurt her again. A pastor I chatted with, likened forgiveness to debt that you don’t expect to be repaid for. All fine and good, however we wish to view it, but in the end, at some point, we have to find a way to let it go and release ourselves of the pain it continues to cause.

    Forgiving of myself? At times it is but a foreign concept. I know I am not perfect and some days further from it than others. I like what you said Joyce, about how if God can forgive me- who am I to question that and how can I beat myself up for so long over it?

  4. Pixie, I know what you are talking about…it IS difficult to “forgive” others who have hurt us, but we are NOT required by “forgiving” them to t rust them or allow them back into our lives, it is simply to my mind, getting the bitterness out of our heart. It is a continuing project for me to…because if I open the door, the bitterness will return.

    Forgiving myself though has been even harder and I have to work hard at keeping that in the forefront of my mind.

    Without forgiving others and forgiving ourselves I do not believe we can find peace.

  5. OneBadPixie, I identify with the ability to “forgive” other people who have done things with deliberate malice. I can forgive anybody for making a mistake or doing something deliberately if they acknowledge what they did and make every effort to NOT make the same mistakes or choices, again.

    My brother was married to a severe NPD that was controlling and manipulative with everyone in HER family, as well as ours. About 4 years ago, I received a card in the mail from her stating that she (and, I quote),”…(knew) that (she) was unkind to (me)…” Um…..”unkind” is hardly what I would call the things that she did to me, personally, and to our family, in general. When her daughter (my niece) was born, she sneered into my face and said, “I guess you’re not the baby of the family, anymore, you little sh*t.” She said and did many, many other things that were very, very cruel – at age 17 I was 5’6″ and weighed 118lb soaking wet, and she said, “You look okay, but you could lose another 10 pounds.”

    I find it a tremendous challenge to forgive this woman for her deliberate and thoroughly cruel treatment of me, personally, and the derision and chaos that she machinated between my parents with regard to money.

    I think that I have to cling onto Joyce’s description of “forgiveness” as being a RELEASE of bitterness, rage, and the rest INSTEAD of pretending that the sins and crimes were never committed. Just because I forgive someone doesn’t ever, ever, EVER mean that I am mandated to “forget” what was done.

    Good topic, Joyce.

  6. For whatever reason, there is no longer an “edit” option! LMAO!!!!!!

    To clarify my statement, above, I can identify with the INability to forgive others. It’s a tremendous challenge and one that I am struggling with, daily.

  7. Truthy, we were having problems with the blog, it wouldn’t allow me on or would kick me off. My IT person disconnected the edit button, but we may try to reinstate it and see what happens. we turned of several features to see if we could add them back one at a time and replicate the problem. WordPress has added an “upgrade” that is problematic. LOL Without my IT person I would be LOST as a GOOSE.

    To me, guys, “forgiving” does NOT MEAN ABSOLVING, OR FORGETTING, OR TRUSTING AGAIN of someone who has harmed up, it simply means that we quit being BITTER about it, quit concentrating on “being abused” and concentrate on “I am no longer around this person, I have a wonderful life now, to heck with the past, nothing that was done to me is going to keep me down.”

    I so remember the days when after my neighbor “Crazy Bob” sued me for $50,000 because my husband’s plane crashed in his pasture…for HIS (BOB’S) “mental suffering ! I was SO angry and so bitter that I laid a wake nights plotting how to kill him and get by with it. After a time of this I realized THIS BITTERNESS WAS KILLING **ME** not him.

    Someone once said that bitterness is like drinking poison and expecting someone else to die. I agree with that.

    Letting go of that bitterness is difficult to do sometimes when we look at our bank account and realize what the offender has cost us in terms of our financial situation. Or the emotional toll that was taken against us. Or the injury that that person did to ones we love. But believe me it is worth it to let go of that bitterness. As long as we are BITTER we have difficulty healing. It puts a road block on our progress.

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