Can you ever forgive yourself? Is it even possible to really forgive one of your transgressions and fully move on? Forgiving yourself is harder than forgiving someone else. We can look at another person’s faults and misgivings, come up with a hundred reasons why they did what they did and forgive them for it. It may take a while to move on, but eventually we accept the misdeed or error in judgment by someone else and get on with our lives and relationships. So why is it so hard for us to forgive our own missteps? Do we have higher expectations of our selves than others or is it that we look at a lapse in judgment as an insurmountable failure?

I am not proud of my youth. I have done some really stupid things growing up. I made a lot of bad decisions born out of low self-esteem and when something jogs a memory I still cringe inwardly. I look back into the past with loathing for my actions. Granted I was a stupid teenager then and am well into my fifties now, but something about that time in my life still haunts me. There are so many regrets and a desire for a do over, knowing the outcome would probably still be the same, but that doesn’t stop the wishing.

I didn’t kill anybody or maliciously try to hurt others; my transgressions were all directed at me. I wish I had pushed myself more in school, gone to college, had some direction, instead of going along with the aimless mindset of a self-absorbed teenager. I thought that if a boy paid attention to me it meant he loved me. It took me a few years to figure out what real love was.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my life, my husband, children and my friends, but I wish I could have been better. I wish I had made smarter decisions and wiser choices, not the bonehead mistakes that I can’t seem to put in the past forever. I know I’m not the person I was then; I don’t need validation from anyone else now. The validation has to come from me and grant me the forgiveness of my past sins.

When I look back over the years of my adulthood there have been many great accomplishments. My husband who I love with all of my heart, my two sons, who are all grown up and have families of their own, a daughter that I didn’t give birth to, but love as much and a few truly special friends that I would walk through fire for. These are all the best part of me, the today me.

So what is it about those short seven years of my life that haunt me more than the thirty plus years since? How do I absolve myself, move on and truly face the future with hope and resolve? I can’t answer that, but I am working on it.

20 thoughts on “Forgiveness

  1. I’ve found that the only thing that you can do about the past….is to do something positive right now. Hope that helps.

  2. I’ve got those skeletons myself – I was the same age, with the same reasons. I may have taken it a bit further and now those stupid decisions are 23 and 26 years old and want to know why. Not that I hear the questions out loud, but I sure hear them in my own thoughts. I have learned a lot by thinking one quite silly thought, however.

    Have you ever slipped and fallen, hard, in a public space? Were you mortified; embarrassed to the point of wanting a good big rock to hide under?

    Have you ever SEEN a stranger fall down in a public space? You probably have. But can you recall the details in the same way you can when it was yourself falling? No.

    Because they really don’t matter, those public embarrassments, no one is judging you. If anything, they think “oh, the poor dear, hope she’s okay” and forget the whole thing right after. It is only us that fell that still feel the lingering awkwardness.

    1. You are wise beyond your years and you are right, we are much harder on ourselves. Maybe I am making the past much more important than it truly is.

      I wish I had known you a long time ago. Of course we probably would have gotten ourselves in the same trouble, but we would have liked ourselves better.

      1. I get the feeling we might have come up with some crazy fun new kinds of trouble 🙂

        I’m by no means wise, it’s just that my arse hurts from me constantly kicking it…

  3. We’re our harshest judge, I reckon.

    Until recently, I kept beating myself for past transgressions, real or imagined. But not anymore. I focus on doing good and trying to be the best I can – towards all whom I meet.

    Peace and blessings,

    1. I guess everyone has things in their past that they are not proud of. The hard part is learning to move on and be proud of the present accomplishments.

  4. It’s very hard to judge through the lens of time when we live and make decisions in the present. I agree with Eric that the thing we can do is try to do better, and it sounds like you have.

    We could say we have a Phd in life now, after raising kids, and growing up ourselves, but when we are young — we are trying to get by on “BS”.

    For me, it took the realization that if God could love me and forgive me, then I forgive myself too.

    peace – bw

    1. You are right, we certainly did have a “BS” in our youth. Our accomplishments have proven that we grown a lot smarter in the years following.

      I just need to work on accepting my younger self and realizing the mistakes I made then helped forge the me today.

      Thanks for the support.

  5. the best thing you can do, truly, is forgive yourself. you did not know better at the time ( who does?) we make mistakes when we don’t know better. when we know better we do better. you are punishing yourself now, give it up. no one else cares. life is short, enjoy what you have now. i mean that with all my heart. Laurie

    1. You’re right, I was just a dumb teenager and have learned a lot from the past. I’m learning to let go and live for the future.

      Thank you for the head slap, I needed that.

  6. p.s. we’re the same age, to put it bluntly, dear susan, “get over it” and it’s funny, I recently wrote a blog called “Do over.” not the same topic but the same word you used, stop punishing yourself. PLEASE. we all do dumb stuff. I promise.

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