A while ago, I wrote a blog post on forgiveness. This journey led me to question my relationship with anger and how this was holding me back on my forgiveness journey. I promised to update you as my journey continues, and I’ve made some strides. Although I’m on the path to forgiveness and sorting out what that looks like for me and how I get to the other end of this tunnel, some things are holding me back. The biggest being guilt and regret. I’ve written about regrets before, and I’ve been clear, especially in my podcast, that I embrace regrets. I don’t see them as a negative thing. I don’t see them as something I should hate, not want, feel bad about, or harbor guilt over because it’s made me who I am, helped me grow, and helped me see things differently.
But, of course, that doesn’t mean regret is any less painful. What makes regret dangerous to me is when I couple it with guilt. Whether that guilt has been placed on me by myself, by others, or I’ve been made to believe that it is my guilt to carry (somebody else has passed that little box to me), I have accepted it as my own.
During a long conversation with my husband, I realized that this is a barrier to forgiving some of the most profound things I need to forgive in my life, not necessarily because I need to forgive somebody, but because I need to be free of it. I need to be free of those emotions and “packages” passed to me, of those haunting memories and the anger and frustration that come with it. What’s stalling me is guilt connected to my regrets. It’s challenging to forgive something if you feel that you were complacent or contributed to the situation in some way. But moving on to forgiveness is even more difficult if it’s connected to your own feelings of guilt.
For me, this shows up in situations where something has been done for me by way of a huge favor or a significant sacrifice. I feel (and am made to feel) that I am now beholden to this favor and indebted to the person who made this sacrifice for me. This somehow justifies every action taken against me because nothing can ever be “as bad as what I’ve done” or “put them through.” This continuously prevents me from saying how I feel, taking back my power, standing my ground, feeling justified in setting boundaries, saying no, and, most importantly, expressing my emotions. These are not singular occurrences but compounding forms of behavior that have broken you down so much over time that it’s hard to find your way back to reality. In my situation, a lot of this is coupled with many complicated relationships steeped in gaslighting and narcissism, which bred a profound lack of Self and mistrust in my own reality.
While constantly looking back, I was trying to justify the actions of others by blaming myself for my mistakes, failing to recognize that we all make mistakes.
I’ve come from realizing that forgiveness is crucial to my inner healing to recognizing that my sense of guilt around my actions is the hurdle in my road. My exposure to emotionally manipulative situations from a young age further confuses this. I struggle to understand what is up and down, what is the boundary and what is not, what is okay and not, what is my truth, and whether my reality exists or matters. Trying to change history will not solve my future. And I am beginning to realize that I did not incur lifetime indebtedness to others for a favor done, giving blanket reign to lousy treatment.
To cement this even further, I was blessed with a profound piece of advice from none other than my five-year-old. We were walking back to the house, and I looked back to call the dogs to follow. As I looked back, she pulled down on my arm, looked me straight in the eye, and said, “Mommy, look into my eyeballs. Don’t look back, Mommy, because you will fall.”
My world just came to a complete standstill at that moment. It’s like everything tipped on its axis and made sense to me. “Don’t look back, Mommy, because you will fall.” And this is what I’m trying to say to myself now. Don’t look back, Jeanne. Because, yes, there’s nothing I can do to change the past, but I can fall again if I lose sight of tomorrow,
While constantly looking back, I was trying to justify the actions of others by blaming myself for my mistakes, failing to recognize that we all make mistakes. It somehow never occurred to me that just because I’ve made mistakes, it doesn’t mean that I am now forever enslaved to people who mistreat me. More importantly, this does not give them an escape clause for deeply hurtful acts committed on a rolling basis.
I am still determining how I will get to the other end of the street, but I know this process has been a long time in the making and will continue to be a journey. I don’t know what this part of the journey will hold for me or what new realizations I will come to. As always, as soon as I’m there and I can take the next step or reach the next fork in the road, I will reach out to you and update you on my progress.
Are you somewhere in your life where you’re trying to forgive someone? Are you struggling with it? What steps have you taken on your process and journey towards forgiveness?
I’d love to know your thoughts on this. I’d love to know your opinions, and I’d love for you to share them with me.
Love and Light