We think about forgiveness in terms of the need for us to forgive someone who did us wrong. I think sometimes we forget the part where we need to forgive ourselves for what has happened. Not everyone thinks about needing to forgive oneself. I surely didn’t think I needed to forgive myself for anything. I enabled by bad marriage, but I didn’t cause the emotional abuse I suffered. So why would I need to forgive myself?
I have always been willing to accept my 50% blame for what happened in my marriage. I enabled it from day one. From lying to my mom about dating him, to saying I wanted to be a virgin when I got married and then still let him have sex with me. To begging him to stay when we had a fight, when he was just pretending to leave to make me vulnerable and scared. (He told me this later during his anger Councilling when they told him to tell me all the things he had done over the years)
I let this behavior happen so it is partially my fault. I have never thought that maybe I have been holding a grudge against myself. I would do it all again. Every time. Like Groundhog Day (that movie with Bill Murray, where the day happens over and over) I love where I am. I love my upgrade husband, and I am the luckiest mom ever of three gifted and intelligent little girls.
So why would I be holding stuff against myself?
Well, lately my anxiety has been off the charts crazy. I’m stressed and every little thing I get wrong is causing me to doubt myself. Doubt who I am. If I am a good mom, if I’m a good wife. Why would I stress about things I know are true?
I have forgiven my girls father for his part in our broken marriage and family. I feel sorry for him now. In his brokenness he is alone. He sees his girls less than once a month now it seems, and talks to his girls maybe twice a month. It is sad to see. He is sick in more than just his body. One of my best friends, and mentor, talks about his spirit of infirmity, and how he is defeated by it. It’s true. I am past holding grudges. I have forgiven.
I now see though that perhaps, the person I haven’t forgiven is me.
That sounds crazy. Doesn’t it?
I have an amazing husband, who is literally my soul mate, he is there for me when I need it, builds me up, holds me when I’m falling apart for what seems like no good reason. I’m starting to think that I have yet to forgive myself.
I’m going to do something now that is super open and super hard. I am going to list all of the ways that I feel I have failed myself and my husband and especially my girls. And then I am going to let it all go. I’m going to remember all the good.
The ways that I have failed myself are so many. I failed to hold myself at a higher standard.
To give myself value. To grow as a person with likes and dislikes. To enjoy things, like sunset, and good food, and good company, and friends, and being my own person. I failed to choose anything that didn’t make someone else happy or fulfilled. Failed to learn things that I liked as I got older. Failed to choose love and passion over thinking that this is the best you deserve. Better take it now. I failed to see my beauty, my smarts, my artistic side. I hid myself away, and by doing that I failed to see all the things that I could do.
I failed my girls in the beginning, when they were small. I hate that I didn’t see it sooner. I failed to keep them safe. I worried so much at night that he would freak out and we wouldn’t see the next day. I failed to show them what a good marriage with respect and honor look like. I failed to show them good self astheem and that its okay to cry and that sometimes you can’t be strong. I failed to shield them from being used as a weapon when the end of my previous marriage was near. I failed to stand up for myself in front of them when it mattered the most.
I have even failed my sweet and wonderful husband Joseph. Luckily for me, every time I feel that I have failed him, during my panic attack where all I can do is cry and hold him and apologize for not being stronger, or better, or not have anxiety.
There is something wonderful though, that has happened amidst all this failure. I know it happened. I have evaluated every single moment, analyzed it with complete clarity. I learned something.
The girls have seen me be strong now. I stood up for myself and I left. I told him he could never treat me that way again, and then I made that true so the girls would see it every interaction. They have seen me be smart and artistic. They have seen me be loved with honor and respect. I have gone over my failings with them and worked hard to right each one. I have made sure that they know they are loved, smart and valued. That they can do big things. I will continue to lift each of them up everyday. In prayer, in life, and bring them up to know love, to know value, to know giving.
I know that I am worth it now. I know that they are worth it. My husband and my sister and my friends remind me all the time.
So for now, I am going to continue working on forgiving myself. I know that I can’t just say it. I’m going to keep working on myself. In order to be a great wife and mother, I have to be a great me. So I will keep working on me. You should take this little piece of advice. Search your heart, think about Unforgiveness and remember that Unforgiveness doesn’t just apply to how you feel about others. You have to forgive yourself too.
All my love,