Girl Lost: Forgiveness of Self

Forgiving self is one of the hardest things I have ever done. Sure, forgiving others can be hard, too, depending on the situation – whether they meant to be hurtful or deceiving or whether they ask for forgiveness. But sometimes, we let too much time pass by, and those hurts build up. Sadly, the person we hurt most in all this is ourselves. We let those moments, big or small, steal our joy. We get lost in the should haves and the could haves. And we lose sight of when to let go of those awful moments of disappointment, invasion of personal space, and misunderstanding.

The longer I live the more and more I realize how hard we are on ourselves. And I believe this has to do more with personality and what each of us experiences regardless if we are male and female. Everyone has suffered some sort of rejection, betrayal, or disappointment at the hands of someone else in some small or all-consuming way. And we have even allowed ourselves to be placed in compromising situations, trusting that nothing bad will ever happen to us.

We seem to get the idea somewhere, somehow that bad stuff shouldn’t happen to us. And when it does, either God has failed us, someone else has failed us, or we have failed ourselves. We then proceed to beat ourselves up and torture our sensitive spirit into a place of doom. And worse yet, we get stuck in this vicious circle of why something shouldn’t have happened to us or how someone should have saved us from that bad thing.

Recently, I have quietly listened to a few persons’ stories of bad things that happened to them when they were young. One or two of these loved ones are on their way to healing. And I can only pray that another one or two will soon be on their way to a better version of their true self. Healing takes time, and we have to choose to want healing – whether that means reaching out our hand to a trusted individual, a professional, or Jesus or God.

Sometimes we get lost in a different, alternate version of ourselves which makes it difficult for us to find out who we really are. We can’t decide which way to go, who to trust, how to tell our story in a way in which we will be believed and yet not be withdrawn from like a type of nasty disease. We can have held that bad thing so close to our hearts that we don’t think we are worthy of love. We may have partitioned our inner self into different personalities to be able to deal with others and try to live the life we thought we should have before that bad stuff happened to us.

Having, at times, put myself in compromising situations as a young person for which I would then beat myself up about over and over and over, I can vouch that being vulnerable and sharing what happened is not easy. In fact, even the smallest bad thing against self – whether it was performed by someone else or allowed to happen by self, was often too shameful to be articulated or voiced out loud. The idea that we must be perfect, must be pure, must be worthy kept me stuck in those moments; and it keeps many, many others stuck and not moving forward, as well.

Eventually, I had to let go of the memories of those times when I failed myself, when I let someone else take my power away from me, when I lost myself to wrong ideas and neglected to realize that my life is more important than any one thing that could ever have happened to me. I also had to realize that I was not alone. Others have experienced the same or worse than me. Others have survived and risen above bad stuff, while yet others have let those bad moments dictate who they are and how they act and, basically, steal their life away. I didn’t want that to happen to me. I wanted to survive every bad moment and rise above them to a place of peace and quiet confidence.

While the future was unknown and scary, I wanted to live it without that bad stuff following me around and strangling my life from me. And I didn’t want to be a victim: the little girl pushed down in the first grade by a group of kids for being too slow; the Hispanic and Anglo fourth grader being asked to choose sides rather than being accepted for having friends of both cultures; the young girl being protected from a bully by an older cousin who was actuality grooming her for himself; and the list goes on.

Over time, I realized that these incidents only have significance if I let them define me. In reality, now that I am older, those incidents are not important as they do not define me. What defines me is how I chose to handle these crossroad moments. It is more important how I found myself and learned to know who I am before and after those moments. And it is important how I share these teaching lessons with others, so that they can also help themselves.

One of the things I learned along the way is to define our character. What are some things that make us who we are? Let me start:

I am an older woman in looks but a young girl at heart and in spirit. I love to read; my favorite genres are mystery and memoir. I am a daughter, oldest sister, best friend, wife, mother and grandmother, employee and co-worker, and a creative. I write. I take photos. I share myself with others. I believe the best of others. I strive daily to make fitness a part of what I do. I believe in God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. I have over forty food allergies. I am more than all these labels though. I am a person who has many other qualities…often kindness but patience, too. I am not a caregiver or strong in math, but I can rise to the occasion for basic necessities. Neither do I love to cook or bake, but I can bake a great yeast roll or coconut cream pie.

Think about yourself now. What are you good at? What do you like to do? Or not? Write it down. Either on paper or your smartphone notes.

Once we start naming all that we are, we can find that we are not really lost. Under all the layers of disappointment, hurt feelings, and failed expectations, we are us. I am the little girl who just wanted a friend and to be one. I am the young reader who doesn’t feel I need to know the definition of foreboding or sarcasm to enjoy the fantastic story I am reading. I am the teenager yearning to know my place in the world and, not having anyone to mentor me, found my answers in the books I read, songs I enjoy, and older persons I listened to. I am the young mother who made mistakes with her child who takes the opportunity now to let her only child know how much she loves him. I am the wife who strives to be supportive even when exhausted. I am still the me I once was, so long ago, despite all the bad that ever happened to me. And you are, too.

What helps us see who we really are? Forgiveness. Compassion. Gentleness. Kindness. And vision. Yes, all of these things, especially vision. To help us be the best us we are meant to be, we can focus and refocus our perspective. we can envision a life where those bad things don’t keep us awake at night. We can move beyond those moments into a place of peace and love, a place where our spirit can no longer be destroyed by bad things. We can set a new course for ourselves by being compassionate and kind to ourselves. And we can give ourselves permission to move away from that self that was hurt and abandoned and move forward to a new self where love abounds. We can hug our inner self and know that we can be led down the road to a place of healing, love, and new beginnings.

We can take time today to reflect on what is holding us back from our best self. Are we still holding onto something from so long ago? Are we holding a little piece of resentment in our heart? Are we hanging onto jealousy or disappointment? Are we beating ourselves up over something that has stolen years, or even decades, from us? Whatever it is, it is time to let it go. It is time to find the you that you used to be, the you that you miss, the you that want to be, and the you that you can be.

It is important to know that it takes time to heal, to come to a place of peace and self-acceptance. When I was about thirty-five years old, I realized I couldn’t let the past steal another moment of a happy life with hubs or our young child. I had to let go and stop holding onto past hurts, disappointments, and betrayals. I had to find my way back to the me I was as a child, the me I wanted to reconnect with, so that I could be the best me moving forward. It was hard, but I decided letting go was more important to me than hanging onto bad stuff. It was a difficult journey because I had been holding onto those disappointments, hurts, and failures for so long.

These incidents were keeping me from true happiness and joy. Instead, I did my best to focus more on positive moments. And, today, I am closer to the me I believe I am meant to be. Sure, I make mistakes – every day, actually. But I don’t hold onto them. I let them go as soon as I figure out how to not make them again. I also strive not to let hurts and disappointments color my world. I strive to look at all facets of a situation to see all perspectives. And I have figured out that my world is brighter when I move past a letdown or disagreement. I choose to be happy in my space. I choose to give the benefit of the doubt to others. And I choose to not let bad things take up free rent in my mind, heart, or spirit.

If you are still here reading with me as I write, I encourage you to do the same. Moving forward can be scary, but it is also freeing. If you are looking to give your younger self, your disappointed self, your hurt self a spiritual hug, that will be a great place to start. When we care about ourselves enough to let go of harmful memories that have become bad habits, then we can become that better version of ourselves. That bad thing happened years ago possibly. Don’t let the memory of it keep you stuck or from moving forward or rising above it. Let the memory of it go. Forgive the offender. Forgive the moment. Forgive yourself, too, for letting that bad stuff rob you of so much of your life.

Let’s be free to be the best you that you want and need to be. Today. Not tomorrow. Every day is a step forward. Let that day be today. And if not, then tomorrow. But let it be soon.

I’m hoping something in what I have said here has resounded with you. If you need to share something with me, please feel free to email me. In the meantime, I wish everyone who has ever suffered anything at the hands of someone else, whether directly or indirectly, to not let another day go by in which that person or persons steals another moment of your joy. Find out, learn, seek how to move from that place of yesterday to where you are today, far removed in time and place, and embrace the child-like spirit you once had. It can be done. I have done it. People I know have moved forward. And many others I don’t know have also chosen to forgive that lost child and move into a place of healing, freedom, and joy. You can do this. I know you can.

Love & hugs, Virg

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