Oh how the title of this post alone must make some people salivate.
The list of things that others have forgiven me for is long and impressive. I have ripped hearts from chests and been greeted with a loving embrace in response. I have had to resort to Confession by Numbers in order to save time and still felt the sweet release of absolution. I have been blessed with mercy in abundance from others.
But what about me? How often have I withheld forgiveness from myself in a misguided act of penance?
What unfinished business do I have with myself?
I think the answer to that question would be more complex if I hadn’t been in therapy for the last year. I started seeing a therapist when Jared and I first separated in an effort to discern what the hell I wanted in life. More than that, I needed to learn how to hear my own voice above the constant racket of friends, family, strangers and society. Everyone from God to Oprah was telling me what I should want and who I should be and it got to the point where I no longer knew how to answer even the most basic questions without checking in with a faceless committee.
But that was thousands of dollars and countless hours of talk therapy and EMDR ago.
I have forgiven much of myself in the last several months.
I am not entirely at peace. There was a time when I was so lost, so broken, so unlike myself. I wandered around in my skin as if possessed by a completely different person – a person whose values and beliefs and strengths were not at all my own. I am still angry with that version of me. I want to slap the shit out of her and shake her and scream at her. I want to shake her hard enough for her actions to fall out of her pockets and disappear from reality.
But even therapy has its limits. There is no undoing the past or erasing of reality. Forgiveness and understanding will always be the things that come after the things that can’t be undone.
At least, that’s how it feels today. Today I am still angry with myself. But I believe that letting myself be angry for a while, instead of shoving it down or pretending to let it go because I’ve been told that’s what I should do, will inevitably lead to real forgiveness.
So there is nothing that I have to forgive myself for. What I have to do is give myself permission to feel whatever it is I’m going to feel – whether it’s anger or shame or regret – in the hopes that someday I will move towards forgiveness.
In the meantime, I’ll settle for being grateful that others are more forgiving than me.