Resistance Towards Forgiveness.
The concept of forgiveness used to leave me confused, angry, nauseated, and repulsed.
Like, forgive someone who’s hurt you? Fuck that. Forgive someone who’s let you down, broken your heart, broken a promise, broken anything else you felt was whole before they wandered into your life or wandered into that moment? No-fucking-way.
As someone who’s lived through extensive trauma and abuse, and as someone who forgave and forgave and forgave the person who hurt me throughout my youth and early adulthood, I’ve needed this time of hating this word.
The concept of forgiveness feels a long way from anywhere I’m currently walking. And right now, it is.
But it isn’t with myself.
Yet for a long time, I couldn’t get my head around the idea that I could forgive myself. Forgive myself for fucking up? Forgive myself for doing things that caused, or cause, myself pain and greater sorrow or heartbreak or turmoil or struggle?
Forgive myself for neglecting my needs and depriving myself of things I enjoy? Forgive myself for failing, for saying or doing the wrong thing? Forgive myself for being selfish or being mean? Forgive myself for having qualities I hate about myself?
Forgive myself for having patterns that Piss. Me. Off.?
Slowly though, over the last few months, the word has organically begun to trickle into dialogue that I have with myself. Notes I write to myself. Things I say to myself.
It’s something I’m so glad I’m not afraid of anymore. And something I’m so glad I’m beginning to listen to. My inner wise woman, my inner healer, my inner parent, knows I can forgive myself and that this is one of the essential essences to self-love and one of the greatest gifts I can give myself.
But I still struggle to always trust their words — to trust my inner knowing that this route is the one I can take. To allow this love and gentleness to integrate and hang out with the rest of me, sometimes feels really fucking hard.
On days like today, the concept of self-forgiveness feels so simple yet so far from my internal reach. I end up feeling wrapped in a knot of frustration that ties tighter and tighter, as the hours of the day go on.
I wonder whether all those parts of myself that know and say I can forgive myself, and who forgive me, are actually full of BS. I wonder whether my critic is the one I should be listening to — he’s yelling so fucking loud, so maybe he’s right, after all?
I wonder whether it’ll ever be possible for me to forgive myself in all the ways that feel the hardest to. I wonder whether forgiveness will become a permanent tool within my inner toolkit, even though my heart knows it will be and is beginning to already.
As I watch myself fuck myself over on days like this — depriving myself of the things I love or need or long for, lying in a pit of sorrow and self-loathing and self-pity on the sofa instead of going outside like my soul is asking me to do, staring blankly at a wall or a computer screen, wondering when my life is going to get any easier or better, wallowing in the doom that seemingly lies ahead of me according to my critic, festering in his dialogue and resisting my self-compassion that’s always here — forgiving myself and offering myself warmth and compassion, instead of shit, feels not only impossible but to part of me it feels ridiculous.
To forgive myself for having bouts of desperation and helplessness, for not always being able to access my inner toolkit of resources, for having afternoons where all I let myself hear is the shit my critic is throwing around rather than the compassionate sound of love and understanding, for having hours where I don’t give a fuck about anything or anyone — not even me, for allowing myself to give up and collapse, for having patterns that fuck me over, for not being perfect, for being someone who’s experienced a shed-load of trauma and who has survived it all and is stepping out the other side of it and healing, for feeling lonely but fearing letting people in, all feels excruciatingly difficult.
And to the perfectionist in me, it feels bonkers. Irresponsible. Cowardly.
To her, to forgive myself is giving up. To forgive myself is to release the floodgates to the dam of pain and pressure I’m carrying on my back, and allow myself to be messy, to be human, to be normal. To her, to forgive is to be fucked.
The notion of softness, tenderness, care, ease, compassion, and forgiveness, in moments or afternoons of self-torture feel like taking a bucket of candy away from a small kid who never gets to eat any: it’s really, really, hard, without a lot of screaming, tears, and tantrum-throwing.
And something that must be easy to bail on, leaving the kid happily eating handfuls of candy.
To leave myself unhappily but familiarly being bullied by my inner critic and pressured by my inner perfectionist feels easier — in these moments or afternoons — than wrestling through to the love and warmth that sit deep in the middle of the dam on my back.
Warmth and compassion for myself are always right at the tip of my fingers, right at the edge of my heart, right at the top of my lungs, waiting and ready to burst out, leap out, spill out.
I just need to let it. I need to know it’s okay. I need to know that to forgive is safe — I won’t be hurt again. As a kid — and from the eyes of my inner girl and inner teen — my forgiveness seemingly brought more and more abuse.
As an adult, I look back now and cradle them both and tell them it doesn’t work like that. I tell them it wasn’t their fault. I tell them things are different now. I’m here and I’m listening. I won’t abandon them. I won’t hurt them.
In those moments, I long to reach out to my perfectionist and tell her all these things, too. That it’s safe, now. She doesn’t need to be so on it. That she can let go and give herself, give me, some slack… a break. She doesn’t need to keep it all together, because to be messy is to be alive.
To be messy is to thrive.
When I’m fucking myself over, I ask myself what I’m feeling. I ask my inner girl or my inner teen, or I ask my general being, what she’s feeling. And always, the answer is hurt or abandoned or sad or lonely or scared or worried or angry or let down.
Whenever I’m doing something that isn’t helping myself, I’m in pain. I’m hurting.
Surely this is a recipe for forgiveness: I’m hurting myself, emotionally or physically, because I’m hurting. It doesn’t get much more tender and vulnerable than that. If I heard this answer from a child, my own unborn child, I would embrace her with a cuddle and I would hold her.
I would tell her I love her. I would ask her what she’s feeling and how she’s hurting. I would gently explain the ways things could be done differently. I would tell her I forgive her. I would tell her I hear her, and I’m listening.
So even on days where forgiveness feels impossible to reach, and compassion feels like the rustiest tool in my toolkit, I will give myself the tenderness that I would give to my unborn child.
I will tell myself I deserve it, and I’m listening.