Learning to Forgive Yourself

Does it ever feel like someone hit the replay button on your mind, and these memories of shame and guilt just keep playing over and over again? Reminding you that you’re unlovable, unworthy… Those feelings are too familiar for me.

Stop. Please. It’s fucking exhausting.

Let me tell you a story.

Several years ago, I went through some shit. A period of deep darkness, brought on by the upheaval of life, lack of direction and my sense of self.

My whole world felt like it was crumbling. I blamed myself for everything that was falling apart. I didn’t feel good enough or deserving of any kind of happiness.

Allowing myself to feel any kind of joy has always been a struggle for me. I believed I was a complete failure and had nothing to offer. In the past, my MO was to sabotage anything that resembled stability and happiness so that I could continue to live in the false story I had created in my mind.

In order to continue my belief system, I would make choices that would be conducive to my projected outcome just so I could say, “see, I told you… I’m a failure, I’m not worth it, I’m not good enough”.

My demons almost cost me my marriage. I even went so far as leaving my husband and filing divorce papers for a situation that had ABSOLUTELY nothing to do with my marriage. It was about me, my insecurities, and my desire to destroy myself.

The choices I made were not intentionally to hurt myself or anyone else. However, it was all I knew. Leave. Burn it down. Run away. “Im going to hurt you before you can hurt me”.

I would lay awake every night sobbing because I felt so hopeless inside. I was so scared of the future. I always felt like the world was on my shoulders, and EVERYTHING was my responsibility. I never trusted anyone enough to believe they would show up for me. In my mind, I was completely alone.

Every day was painful just to be alive. Until one day, after some very awful choices, I woke up and it literally felt like someone turned the light back on. It was like I just snapped out of it. I looked around at the reality I had created for myself and I can remember just standing there, scanning the room and saying out loud, “WHAT. THE. FUCK. AM. I. DOING?!”

Fast forward a few years… I would still replay my actions during that time. How could I do those things?

I remember talking with a friend about my inability to forgive myself and she just looked at me and said, “it was a really bad dream… but you woke up.” I needed those words in that moment. It WAS a bad dream. It wasn’t my reality anymore.

My husband and I had healed, our relationship had become better than I could have ever imagined, I felt things I had never felt before, and for the first time I FELT unconditionally loved by another person. And yet, I still couldn’t allow myself to truly accept that love and joy into my life because I still couldn’t forgive myself. But with those words from my friend, I was slowly able to release the shame I felt by focusing on the gratitude I had for lessons I had learned.

Had it not have been so heartbreaking, I never could have known the joy that was waiting on the other side. During that time I learned some of the most valuable lessons I’ve ever experienced. We are not defined by our bad dreams. You do not have to continue to punish yourself for simply learning. It was meant to be a lesson, not a life sentence.

If you are having a hard time letting go of a particular situation, consider writing a list of everything you’re thankful for, everything you learned, and all the good that came from the situation. I’m not saying it’s easy, but with some work you can find strength, forgiveness, and finally heal.

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