Cultivating Forgiveness.

February 8, 2012 at 6:06 pm | Posted in Crazy Talk (aka: Therapy) | 5 Comments

I have a pattern of self-destruction.

It usually starts when I do something that feels right at the time, but isn’t well thought through.

My Inner Critic steps up and starts in.

You REALLY think that was a good decision? What about all the people who were relying on you to do that Thing You Do? You are SO selfish.

And I see why it happens.

I wasn’t very thoughtful in my younger days. I trampled hearts of boyfriends because I never knew how to tell someone I didn’t really like them.

I left behind a path of used friends who were hurt by how I’d just go off to some new adventure, leaving them behind like they were nothing.

I wasn’t a BAD person, per se. I rarely had a falling out with someone. Whenever a friend was mad at me, I was confused. What? What happened?

I just wasn’t a thoughtful person.

And then I decided to call my cousin and invite her up to UMass in my freshman year. I had thoughts that it would be nice for her to see the place, yes. But mostly I wanted to show her around my awesome new life.

When I called, she told me she couldn’t, because she had attempted suicide a month prior. I rolled my eyes.

When she sent me a letter of how miserable she was, how she was sleeping with all these boys and couldn’t figure out how to juggle them, I rolled my eyes.

But then she was dead a month later.

For real. Gone.

All of a sudden, I realized how we’re all connected, as humans. And with aching clarity, I saw how maybe some thoughtfulness could have HELPED her.

I’ve spent the past 18 years making up for my thoughtlessness.

It’s only become a problem lately. Because I’m so focused on other people, and being thoughtful, and doing the right thing – all external stuff – that I’ve not really even considered what makes me happy.

Even worse, I’ve allowed myself to be held prisoner of my Inner Critic.

It’s turned me into an angry and inflexible person, who can’t handle new things and changes.

The person I am right now SCARES me.

Over the past few days, really sitting with my decision to leave my company, I’ve started to feel badly about the decision.

Not because it’s not good for me, mind you. But because of the mess I’d be leaving behind. All the work, the issues with the auditors, the clean up project which will take time and patience and effort to convince the damn auditors that they need to step back and chill the fuck out.

I feel badly for my boss, who must work nearly 80 hours a week, if not more.

I feel like I should have been more SOMETHING. More responsible. More clear about what I wanted, instead of being forced into the situation I am now.

And it struck me today.

I am not a forgiving person when it comes to me.

It’s why I can’t let go of my need to prove that I’m a good person. Because, deep down, I don’t believe it myself. I have to keep proving to MYSELF that I’m good, that I’m worthy of being loved.

It’s why I push Charlie Brown away when I’m upset, instead of allowing him to comfort me.

It’s why I feel this sadistic need to see all my decisions through to the bitter end; working harder and harder until I either burn out from the stress or fail completely.

It’s why I am a slave to the scale; getting disgusted with myself when I’m up a couple of pounds, panicking when I need to lose weight and can’t lose myself in a run.

It’s why I NEED my runs, to work myself harder than I would normally, push through the discomfort, do bigger and better things and go faster and run harder – it’s the only way I feel like I’ve actually accomplished something in my life.

Now, see.

I want to end this post with a dramatic thought.

Like: This cycle stops now. Today, I forgive.

Except. I don’t KNOW what forgiveness, real forgiveness, feels like.

I expect that I’m going to have to start small. And focus on it.

Maybe I can start with other people.

Like forgiving my boss for needing to blow off steam by blaming me for last week’s auditor mess.

Or forgiving myself for the extra pound I’m certain to have on my doctor’s scale tomorrow for the wine I’m going to indulge in tonight.

Or forgive the mess we’ve left this week, the laundry unfolded, the cofeepot I’ll have to actually wash tonight.

Or forgiving Charlie Brown when he doesn’t say the right thing when I need him to.

I need to work on cultivating forgiveness; spreading the seeds, starting small.

Because someday, somewhere, I’d really like to forgive myself.



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  1. Oh, sweetie, what a terrible burden to be carrying around for 18 years. It wasn’t your fault. You are not responsible for everyone’s pain and joy. You were doing the best you could at the time. Hindsight is 20:20.

    I know that nothing I say can make you feel better. Key to happiness is finding out what you want and how to ask for it. You are such a tough and thoughtful person. Resilient. You can handle this.

  2. Oh hugs, hun. I am sorry you have so much to wade through. Be gentle with yourself- don’t let the Inner Critic come out too much through introspection.

    Plato said the unexamined life is not worth living. I really believe that you will find your way through all of this, and end up much much happier on the other side.


  3. This — and your last — are such powerful posts. Forgiving yourself is so difficult … at least, that’s what I’ve found. Harder than forgiving others, because we can let them go. I struggle with many of the same things you do … and your advice, to start small, and take things one step at a time, couldn’t be more wise. Reach out with your heart, gently, and you will find what you need.

  4. The BEST thing I’ve found for myself is this: when I start to get critical, I take a moment, look at the situation, and think how I would act if it was my son instead of myself. How would I comfort him, what parts would I want him to take responsibility for, etc. And then I apply that response to myself. It has made me a ton better at being gentle with my own mistakes or decisions.

  5. We are always our own worst critics (except for those people that refuse to take responsibility for anything they do/cause….and I believe somehow people like us have sucked up THOSE peoples inner critics along with our own).

    If I remember correctly from your long ago posts it’s possible you don’t know how to forgive yourself because as a kid you were never taught that it was possible. Always being told you didn’t do something well enough, or fast enough, or someone else did it better….all those things get snagged into that part of our brain that just leaks out that information at will and usually at times when we are stressing about things.

    You are most definitely on the right road. I can see in your posts you are getting angry about your lack of self worth and that in itself is a strength that is starting to get stronger.

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