This afternoon, I found a basket of random stuff I hadn’t looked through for a couple years: expired movie passes, filters for the water dispenser, a couple postcards I think are beautiful, seven chapsticks and exactly 89 cents. Also discovered were five slips of paper in different people’s handwriting saying the following:
Just sitting here beating myself up for not getting up and at it this morning. And then a notification pops up that you’ve posted. And I read and am reminded to be compassionate with myself. And that is a better way to start my day. So thanks.
I think many of us look at ourselves through shit colored glasses. I know I do, and I don’t look good in brown. Many of the things I’ve done have been taken into reconciliation/confession, and there is an intellectual understanding that God forgives me. So why do I not forgive myself? Cuz I’ve taken the trash out to the curb, but before the sanitation crew comes, I’m out there in the wee hours of the morn while it’s still dark, winnowing thru the trash, saying, ‘Not this; I can’t let go of this.’
Lately, my prayer in those moments is that the Holy Spirit fill me with an awareness of grace, of God’s love for me, as I am. It helps. Mostly.
I had a Sponsor years ago who said something that really stuck with me. He said, self hatred is a form of pride, because if God loves me unconditionally and I chose to hate myself, I am essentially saying that God is wrong.
My inner voice, or 'Judge Jay,' as I like to call it, is a real MOFO. It not only reminds me constantly of the shitty things I have done, but it also likes to remind me constantly of what a mistake I AM. I'm defective. I belong in the land of the misfit toys. Something about me is fundamentally wrong. Unworthy, unlovable, and un'fucking'fixable.
Fortunately, I have people in my life that I love and trust, who urge me to challenge that voice, to stand up to the bully in my brain, and to try and help a fellow traveler who might be in a similar situation.
The only thing I will never forgive myself for is watching nine seasons of American Horror Story during the pandemic. I loved every second of it 😸
I'm crying. 😢 I'm still working on forgiving myself for a very, very huge set of selfish choices. It's hard when your husband hasn't forgiven you and still suffers because of what you did. It feels selfish to embrace self forgiveness when he's hurting. 😢 But I know I need to. It's just hard. So hard. Lord, have mercy.
I go through this ritual of going through my recent mistakes at least, oh... *checks notes* ...twice a day. It's weighty, I hate it. Essays like yours help, and it's tough to break through. I see all of these positive memes, like, "Be kind to yourself," or "It's impossible to be perfect," or "You deserve a break." Then it's as if I immediately turn to myself and say, "Well, not YOU. YOU must wallow. YOU must be perfect. YOU don't get a break." I try to remind myself that's not true. I do get those things. My inner voice *does* get quieter when it asks a follow up: "DO you?" I have to reiterate, "YES, I do." I don't like this struggle at all. But I'm working through it. Thank for your your essay today.
I have been condemned by most of my family. I have done the worst and spent a huge portion of my life in prison for it. I have lost all but one friend from my pre-conviction life. Forgiving myself when surrounded by hate seems too much for me to do. Thank you for your insight but I seem to be destined to apologize everyday for inhaling the air that a more deserving person should have. I don’t know how much trash others have to take out but I need a landfill. I don’t know how to do it but everyday, I struggle and push it away until I turn out the lights. That’s when it all comes to haunt me again. Maybe candles, hymns and ritual is where I will find some peace. I am still not allowed to attend church services, maybe my own ritual will be an answer. Thank you for understanding my struggle.
Thank you. I've had a hard year. A hard years. And this year I've started taking the bolt cutters to things and reading this was the affirmation that I can still keep cutting. The negative voice in my head that tells me I'm not enough - all the time - I know is a voice that isn't my truth - and is yet also so pervasive at times and so well disguised in the language I've learned - has access to the memories I have - and knows how to bring up the welling feeling of shame in a moment - that it's tricky to know that that voice of judgment, pain, punishment and invalidation is a tool used to keep me not free, by whoever, or whatever, benefits from my imprisonment. At 42, and living the life I live, doing the work I do, and being who I am (and how I offer grace so easily for others - the point of "pride" you mention rang a bell for me) I know that this inner voice of harsh judgement and never enoughness is an energy that is not aligned with the trueness of who I really am. I am light. I am divine. I am whole. I am perfect and I am enough, just as I am. My body is my body. My face my face. My passion and what I fearfully view (in that negative voice) view as "too much for others to handle" is actually the coursing flow of life and joy and energy that is substantive, creative, and free. And it does intimidate our fellow prisoners, but why do I keep imprisoning myself to their comfort? Why not model liberation? Why not remember, always, to get out the bolt cutters, forgive yourself, and allow yourself to be in your life experience in exactly the way you are - always touched by grace - even if you can't always see it in just that very moment. Thank you for this post, it made me a subscriber today. ;)
One of the things I am occasionally grateful for is: I have not yet in my life killed anyone.
Or caused anyone permanent damage.
Or even long-lasting damage.
I was once in a fist-fight with another man and I actually got my hands around his throat.
His eyes went WIDE.
MY eyes went wide.
I let go immediately.
We stopped fighting soon after that, a lesson learned I hope.
Maybe God is gracious.
Maybe I don't need to learn a lesson about self-forgiveness to that extent.
I don't care.
Thank you God I haven't killed anyone.
Or hurt them.
Some years ago, I attended a writing workshop taught by science-fiction writer David Gerrold. One piece of advice he gave us, about evaluating our writing while in the process of writing it, focused on what he called "the shitbird on your shoulder." I wrote about that phrase in a 2008 blog post, here:
The gist is this bit:
"...your eyes stray back over what you’ve just written. And that’s when you hear the voice. The pinched, nagging voice with the jagged rhythms and intonations. The voice of the shitbird:
"'You can’t write. Who told you you can write, anyhow? Look at the way you worded that. You call that writing? For God’s sake, you spelled “your” like “you’re”! And oh for chrissake, look there — passive, passive, passive! Better fix that right away — but no, goddammit, no, not that way, look, you just made it worse…!'
"And so on.
"The sh!tbird never gives up. He — it’s a 'he' for me, anyhow — he never shuts up. Give him a milli-second of your time and he’ll take an hour. He’s always there, pecking at your attention and your confidence, flapping his wings if you let your guard down."
I think I -- maybe a lot of people -- carry around on my shoulder a shitbird who's less of a specialist, eager to catch me in the act of doing *anything* wrong... and then to point out the failure of nerve, of aptitude, of ethics and morality. Worse, he doesn't forget any of it, but has little permanent bookmarks placed in the logbook of shortcomings so he can easily call them up when I've come even a step closer to repeating the mistakes.
And I will confess, he's very, very convincing. When I read this post of yours, Nadia, my first thought was, like, Jeebus, I can't forgive all *that* shit...! My second thought was, Okay, but maybe you can perch a lovebird on the other shoulder to sort of balance out the noise a little?
So I dunno. This is SUCH a tough egg for me to crack.
Wow, thank you for sharing this this morn <3
"Walk it to the curb, burn some incense, and move the fuck on."
I needed to hear that today. I've never burned incense because I've always been taught it wasn't "christian" to do that, but what the hell? I might go grab some on my way home and burn it and move the fuck on!
Thank you for this amazing reflection, Nadia. I was blown away when I saw the note saying “Hating my family for their mental illness “. My husband has been in treatment for cancer for 5 years, but that was nowhere as difficult to live with as his many years of treatment resistant depression and anxiety. So many people call me an angel or a saint for my faithfulness and support of him. Yet so many times I want to leave and not deal with it ever again. I need to remember that it’s okay to be human and even an asshole at times. I am worth forgiving.
Raising my hand to acknowledge that I am an a--hole of the GAPING variety. Arrogance, sanctimony, judging; you name it, it’s me. Mostly because I have the audacity to think that “I get it.” But I don’t because I’ve not been in everyone else’s shoes.
I blame Nadia because I think she makes so much sense, and that her sermons are a magic elixir of heavenly insight. 😉
For my entire adult life I wish to forgive myself for expecting too much out of my brother (now basically estranged) who has suffered from crippling anxiety, codependency and alcoholism. I think we’ll go to our graves unreconciled, and I guess I’ll have to get good with that. I’ve only meant the best intentions.
This song sums it up...
At a pretty late age when I got insurance that covered the process I found out I am on the "high functioning" edge of the autism spectrum. The side of the spectrum that appears to blend in because we become skilled at adapting and masking - behaviors that are especially applicable to women. Except that...I was totally oblivious to the effects that things I said and did had on others, had a total lack of self awareness and exaggerated sense of self importance and in general acted like an asshole to the point that it was continual self sabotoge both personally and professionally. With this knowledge and therapy and coaching I have been able to become aware of and change these behaviors BUT my brain seems to be on a constant playback cycle of every f**ked up thing I have done in my life. Stuff that even long time friends and former co workers seem to have forgotten by now.
But those reruns keep playing and I can't seem to find my way to self forgiveness. I tell myself didn't know any better at the time then beat myself up for not behaving differently which would have opened up doors that got slammed shut due to my behavior.
Forgiving others is tough work. Giving yourself a little grace is toughter, Appreciating how far you have come is even harder. I tell myself I just didn't know any better. Or in line with what Rob Bell said I go "that was a few Shannons ago" so time to be here now.
So thanks for this early morning truth bomb. .
I love this. I have garbage to take out from 40 years ago
A good reminder to treat myself better in those moments when I make the smallest blunder and treat it as though I’ve committed the worst crime imaginable. Sometimes a moment of remembering a past action will come into my head and like an avalanche all the unfavorable past actions come crashing in at once, as if that is all I am. In the moments of clarity that follow, when I do the work of compassion and forgiveness I am able to step back with the understanding that these actions are just what happened as I was learning to know myself better, all of it necessary so that I can become more whole even with the holes I’d like to forget.