This week's Spin Cycle is a tough one. Forgiveness. When I say it's a tough subject, I usually mean it's one I stare at after she assigns her "spins" for the week and go "ugh, do I have to??? (In my whiny brat voice). So, yeah....Forgiveness. Here goes nothing....
Being raised in the Catholic church, forgiveness is one of those things that has always been ingrained in me as from birth. Every year, you had to go to confession and ask for forgiveness for your sins. You were to forgive those who trespassed against you. If God could forgive that person for their wrongdoing, then who were you not to forgive them? As a child, the concept seemed easy enough. No one ever really did anything to me too horrible that I couldn't forgive them for it. And my "sins" consisted of talking back to my parents, being mean to my brother and sister and occasional lying. Child's play.
However, as I got older, the whole concept got a little murkier. Suddenly it just wasn't that easy. The scars of my own wrongdoings and the things others did to hurt me didn't go away with a simple "I'm sorry." I began to struggle with the difference between forgiving and forgetting and had one hell of a time distinguishing between the two.
Some time ago, I participated in a Spin involving poetry, and I opened my heart to all of you about my past, the things that I struggled with as I became an adult. Mistakes made, scars caused. Saying I'm sorry became something that I said or something I heard from someone, just going through the motions, but did not mean or something I said, trying my best to truly meaning it but never forgetting the harm that was done. Rather, I would take an apology but carried the memory, weighing me down like a lead balloon. And the more balloons I tacked on, the harder it got to even try to forgive.
I am the first to say that I have made many a bad choice as a young adult. When you reach college age and on, you almost get this invincibility about yourself. Nothing you do can really harm you. You do without thinking, jump without looking, act without thinking of the consequence. You make decisions that could truly hurt yourself, hurt those who love you or worse, could even take you away from those who love you. And, for some, those acts of carelessness hardly register on a scale of guilt. But for me...not so much. As years went by, I found myself weighed down so much by guilt that I was unable to even contemplate forgiving myself.
By the time I reached my late twenties and met T, I was so far past that point of self forgiveness that I gave up any hope of ridding myself of the guilt of the past. It wasn't until I met T and fell in love that I started to see that it was even possible. I had to learn to love myself enough to see that I was worthy of forgiveness, even if it was my own. It didn't happen overnight, and it wasn't something T did. It was more he gave me the strength so that I could do it for myself. And eventually I did. I let it go and gave it to God and forgave myself.
Do I still struggle with it? Yes. Does that guilt creep up every now and then and try to squirm its way back into my life. Of course. (For those of you who know me all to well know that worrying is a pastime of mine, and worrying about guilt? It's an excelled skill of mine, what can I say?) But now I know that whenever that guilt pokes its head around the corner, I can brush it aside and clear my heart of that burden. And sure, I'll make many more mistakes along the way, but the good thing is now I know that I can forgive myself. And that is half the battle.
So yeah, Sprite's Keeper, thank you for the difficult topic :-) But no, it does feel good to be able to write about it, and I hope that my lessons I have learned will only help me someday as I become a mother and teach my children all about forgiveness and how they should love themselves enough to know what it truly means to forgive.
So next week's Spin...can that be something light-hearted and cheery? Like puppies and unicorns, perhaps?