Once upon a time, you loved someone. Your love was not appreciated. You gave so much of yourself to someone, and sadly it was not received very well. You were taken for granted, dismissed coldly, treated like you were less than nothing then easily discarded. There was no apology, no remorse, no expressed regret, nothing.
In hindsight, the signs were all there, you just thought your love was magic, that it would heal things, that it would serve as a bridge over troubled waters. You loved despite the odds against you. You were lonely, semi-desperate. You tolerated things you knew you shouldn’t. You suppressed your intuition and denied your gut feelings just for the sake of saying “I have someone. I am loved.”
Now you are here, unable to look yourself in the mirror. Ashamed, embarrassed, and flooded with awful feelings. Every day it gets a little harder to get out of bed. You replay every word they said, every misstep, every regret. You recite line for line the reasons why you were not enough according to them. You ask yourself, “Why wasn’t love enough?” You take to your bed, maybe for days, weeks, months. It becomes an early grave as the cool covers become comforting dirt in which you bury all your pains and hurt.
Your bed becomes a second womb. Morning comes and here you are, being given birth to when all you want to do is stay in bed. But you have work to do, a house to clean, things that need tending to. You get up by default. Pretend it doesn’t hurt as much as it does. Put on a cosmetic smile and motion through the world as if every part of you isn’t broken.
You are not alone here. Many of us have gone through (and are still going through) this painful process. It is not an easy thing to go through and is oftentimes complicated by both the lack of accountability from the person who has hurt us and also the level of support we have to help us cope through this difficult experience. But what shortens the life of this special kind of grief is our willingness to reclaim our power by forgiving ourselves and being the support and comfort that we expect from others. This is part of building ourselves back up from ground zero and creating a self-care ritual that honors who we are in every interaction with others.
So what exactly does it mean to forgive yourself and how does one do this in real time? First, forgiving yourself means understanding that you did the best you could with what you knew at the time. It means gently offering yourself the same compassion that you give to everyone else and coming to terms with your own humanity. It also means a newfound understanding that you are worthy of the same love and kindness that you give to everyone else.
Forgiveness is also understanding that another way to say loss is in the pronunciation of the word LESSON. It’s asking yourself the tough questions such as:
1. What have I learned from this particular experience?
2. What priceless pearls of wisdom can I impart to someone else who may be experiencing the same thing?
3. With the information that I have now, what will I do differently the next time to ensure I do not end up feeling the same way?
4. What have I gained from the experience that can serve as a springboard to a brand new me?
Truth is forgiveness is wisdom in action. Wisdom is taking past experience and projecting it into the future in order to avoid disastrous outcomes. By asking yourself these tough questions and reflecting on the responses provided, you gift yourself with the insight needed to foster your own healing and subsequently increase your wisdom.
Forgiving yourself also involves doing what some have considered to be the most painful thing of all to do: forgiving those who hurt you. It means empathizing with that wounded inner child in all of us that at times can be selfish and inconsiderate and immature. The fact is that many people who have hurt us still carry inside them a lot of unresolved hurt. All they can offer is what they have experienced, and for some this is a whole mess of hurt.
Truth is it is human nature to try and deflect pain onto others in an effort to remove it away from ourselves. Think of the last time you had a bug crawling on you. Your initial response might be to flick it away regardless of who is next to you and who might get injured in the crossfire of your actions. I know you may not want to hear this, but the truth is that many hurt people are not necessarily bad people. They are simply people that lack awareness into how their actions affect others. They struggle with apologizing because their egos are so badly bruised that to admit to another fault feels like sudden death to their entire being. They are traumatized, psychically numb, and possess frozen hearts that do not allow themselves access to compassion, love, and kindness, which is necessary for personal growth and healing. They deserve your compassion, not your retaliation.
So how does one forgive themselves in real time? By going to the mirror daily and braving your reflection. It involves courageously looking into the poisoned glass at the image reflected. Staring deeply into your dewy eyes and affirming yourself with the following affirmation:
“Yes, I have made some mistakes in judgement. I am not perfect. I am beautifully human and am deserving of the same love and compassion I give to others. I have learned many things as a result of this experience. Most of all, I have learned to be a better friend to myself and honor my intuition. I have learned to act immediately on what I come to know about someone and I do not wait on anyone to validate my intuition. I trust in myself and know that I am acting from a righteous place. I will always be what I need for me. I deserve good things. I will be okay.”
Truth is you will never be the same after a heartbreak. You will be changed. But change is not necessarily a bad thing if you decide to change for the best. For some of us, the hardest part in the healing process is not forgiving others but rather forgiving ourselves. However, forgiving yourself is the first step in the journey of self-healing. The thing about self-apologizing is it increases your self-worth and emotional autonomy. Gifting yourself with an apology also renders your need for an apology from others null and void because you already provided what others have not and in doing so are brought face to face with your personal divinity. So breathe and unleash the God in you, because you owe it to yourself to actualize your full potential, and this starts with a genuine apology to yourself.