Does It Always Work Out?

Nearly 20 years ago I remember being at a bar where customers drank beer, played pool, and threw darts. At this time in my life, I was really struggling. I was making a mess of my life and things were falling apart. I can’t remember what I said to the server, but I think she got the impression that I was feeling hopeless by her response. My memory of her words are as clear in my head today as they were so many years ago.

She was wiping down a table and she matter-of-factly said, “It always works out.” I asked her what she meant by that. She shrugged her shoulders and said, “It always works out.” What I got from that is; even when we’re going through hard times, things will eventually work out.

Our Connection

As I reflect on what that server said to me 20 years ago…I rationalize one question:  Was she right?

I hope that when I reflect on my life’s journey, it causes you to think about your own experiences. We all have a story. Chances are that even though we have walked down different paths, we may share similar experiences. Because of our shared experiences, we can connect with each other in a deeper way.

Hard Times

These were two very different and tough years. Both were extremely hard and equally painful.

2002: Chaotic and Running Out of Time

I was working two jobs, taking care of my three children, and caring for my terminally ill mother. I was physically and emotionally exhausted. I was also drinking and using crystal meth.

  • Mom died in July.
  • I lost my jobs at the end of October.
  • Our gas was turned off on Thanksgiving Day.
  • I was running to food banks by December.

2003: Losing Everything Including Myself

I was completely out of touch with reality. I wasn’t working and wasn’t even trying. The doctor said I had an emotional breakdown, which was probably true, but I’m sure the drinking and drugs didn’t help.

  • Evicted from our apartment
  • Gave my kids to my older brother to take care of
  • My Driver’s License was suspended
  • I became homeless

I wandered around aimlessly and the days turned into weeks and months. My life was just passing me by as I stood on the sidelines and watched. It felt like a “pause” in time. Nothing was happening and I didn’t get help for myself. Every day was the same.

Words That Mattered

That evening when the server said, “it always works out,” I remember feeling hope. I hung on to her words and to this day have never forgotten them. In my world where I was literally and figuratively a lost soul – those words mattered to me.

Sometimes even the smallest amount of encouragement we give to someone can make a huge impact. We may never know to what extent, but it is worth recognizing the kindness. I bet this server would never have imagined that I’d be writing a blog on a website about something she said to me nearly 20 years ago. Words matter, they stay with you.

I wonder how often this happens in life. I wonder if I have ever said something to someone that was so impactful that it stayed with them. What an honor that would be!

The Flip Side

It’s important to note that our words can also go the other way. We can say things that judge, hurt, wound and scar. These words have the ability to stick with a person for a lifetime. In a world that is becoming increasingly polarizing and divisive among not only strangers but also friends and family – recognizing the impact of our words is imperative. Civility is at stake. Relationships are on the line. I hope I have not said something that was so hurtful it scarred someone’s spirit. That would be such a tragedy. If I did, I would want to apologize to them on the deepest level imaginable.

We need to remember, always, whether it is a family member, friend, retail clerk, server, homeless person, or whoever it is that….

Words MatterKindness MattersCompassion Matters


Dreaming: A Peek Under the Veil?

I’d like to share a dream I had during this very tumultuous time in my life. Hopefully it’s not too off-topic, especially if “it always works out.”

The dream that occurred between the two toughest years of my life may sound crazy, but I think some of you will understand. Sometimes the most peculiar things in life cannot be just explained away. This dream being one of them. I had no idea what was ahead of me as I approached 2003.

Dream: I was walking down a long corridor with someone who was holding a clipboard. There were rows and rows of files on both sides of us. Just as I began to awaken from my dream, I heard myself mutter aloud,

“Keep things going the way they are going.”

If the theory is true that our lives are already planned out – and if as the server suggested “it always works out,” then this dream makes sense to me.

What I mumbled upon waking meant to me that I had a sense or a say in what was coming for me in 2003. Theorizing that: IF we have a say in our life, and IF when we dream subconsciously we can communicate with the other side, then maybe I KNEW what was ahead of me in 2003. That might have actually been my opportunity to make some changes or adjust what was planned out for me. I am guessing my enlightened self knew that I would survive. What else would cause me to say, “Keep things going the way they are going?” My subconscious self was ready to stare down the complete horror that was coming for me the following year.  It would be worse than what I had already experienced, and I was to leave things as they were and forge ahead.

My analogy makes sense to me. I marvel at some of the experiences we go through and it feels like with dreams – we get to peek under the veil just a bit. Maybe we have more say or realization about our lives than we think.

An Open Mind

If you haven’t experienced such a memorable dream or don’t believe in the underlying meaning of dreams, I get it. It is hard to just believe what others say about them. Some people must experience such things for themselves. I would only suggest that you try to leave yourself open to the possibility that there might be more than you understand. If something occurs that is powerful and designed in such a way that it is improbable to be a coincidence, open your mind or take a closer look. Once we begin to “see this way” it is easier to believe.

Was The Server Right?

I believe the server was right. Things DID work out. Even though I went through such unimaginable hardship, I came out better and stronger on the other side. I would not be who I am today if I didn’t go through what I went through in my life. And I like who I am. I’m proud of who I am now.

Life as I know it now:

  • I got my family back
  • I have a place to hang my hat – My home
  • I have been in my current job for 15 years
  • I went back to college and got my BA in Psychology
  • I wrote and published my book in 2013
  • I have a wonderful relationship with my children & grandchildren
  • I finally have my website this year! Woohoo!

Things definitely worked out. I picked up on those words of encouragement back then and they stuck with me over the years. Those words allowed me to latch on to help when it was offered and it changed my life. Many may think that I’m one of the lucky ones. But I wonder if “lucky” is the correct term to use when describing a survivor.

Life Lessons

I wasn’t sure what I wanted to write about this week -but when I was laying in bed the other night I was thinking about lessons I’ve learned in life. So many experiences I have had so far on my journey crossed my mind. Some lessons have been small or large, painful or humorous. But I have learned from them all. I got up out of bed, walked over to my desk, and wrote down “Lessons in Life” on my notepad so I wouldn’t forget this subject in the morning.

Definition

Lesson (noun): an amount of teaching given at one time. A period of learning or teaching. Instruct or teach someone of something.

Depending on how you view life you may see things that happen as a learning opportunity or think that everything that happens is just random, but in the end we all learn. Since it‘s my blog, I’ll spill my thoughts out on how I see life and the learning opportunities that were presented to me.

I believe we are here for a reason, and it is not accidental. I also believe that with everything I’ve experienced in life there is a reason why. My life has been filled with such oddities and coincidences that it would make your head spin. If things are not by coincidence or accident, then they are meant to happen. They are meant to be. If this is true, then there is structure and guidance in our life that helps navigate us from one place to another as we move forward. A roadmap of sorts. If things happen for a reason and not by accident, what would be the goal or result? I can only come up with the fact that we are here to learn. Experience both the good and bad, and learn from it.  

What are we here to learn?


Small Lessons

I will share some of the small lessons I have learned. Some painful and some quite funny.

The Stairs

I have either lost a laundry basket filled with clothes or had a shoe fly off my foot as I tumbled down a few steps. Because of this awkward, embarrassing and sometimes painful lesson, I have learned to take the stairs slower to hopefully prevent it from happening again.

Speeding

Driving fast in lots of traffic is a recipe for disaster. I have seen too many accidents where someone stops and the person behind didn’t have enough time to stop – and well… you know, an accident occurs. Not only can it be life threatening, the hassle with insurance companies, rental cars, estimates, etc. is exhausting. It’s just not worth it.  I’d rather just drive slower and safer.

Hangry

I’ve been so impatient that I’ve taken a bite of hot food and realized it wasn’t just hot, but lava hot. I roll it around like a hot potato and hope it cools down before I swallow and burn my throat. If you’ve ever scorched the roof of your mouth or burned your tongue on something smoldering that came right out of the oven you’ll understand. I’ve learned to be more cautious and take a small test to see how hot something is before I shove a spoonful in my mouth.

Toe Catcher

Knowing when our little toe might catch a piece of furniture or other household fixture ahead of time is nearly impossible. I think this has got to be one of the most painful things we go through in life and to this day I am still trying to be watchful. It happens with random items in different locations so it isn’t something we can learn how to avoid. We just learn to expect the unexpected, say a few choice words, and hop around for a while.

Gossip

Have you ever been gossiping about someone, and they heard you? Maybe you sent a text to the wrong person and realized it only after pushing send. One time I sent a chat message to my coworker letting her know my boss “was on one” which meant not in the best mood. Right after I sent it, I realized I sent it to my boss! I looked up from my desk into her office and her eyes met mine. She will never let me forget that day. Funny but not funny. We laugh about it now. I definitely double-check an email or text message to be sure I am sending it to the right person. I also learned to be careful with my words. Maybe gossiping about someone is the bigger lesson here. Maybe we should try to do better

Wrong Number?

When your cell phone rings and displays a number that you don’t recognize from an area where you don’t know anyone  – Don’t answer. Chances are you’re going to find out that your car insurance is about to expire and it’s your last chance to renew. Besides not answering what have I learned? I’m definitely not going to miss anything…the message will still be on my voicemail!

I could go on with my small learning experiences, but I know that you have probably thought of your own to ponder now. The ones that taught you a safer way to move forward, and the ways you approach things differently now because you learned a small lesson.


Big Lessons

The big lessons in life can be external (physical) as well as internal (thought provoking). Most often intertwined.

Relationships

Relationships are important to us. Whether with a partner, friend, or family member, each relationship is unique and different. The way we interact with each individual depends on the depth and comfort of the relationship.

Relationships are like the ebb and flow of life. Some last for a short time, some for a lifetime. People come and go for a reason and sometimes a purpose. Life moves us along and at different times we need different things from each other. I value all my relationships. I only have a handful of close friendships, but I think if we are fortunate enough to have one good friend, that is a blessing. The lesson I’ve learned on relationships: Treasure them.

Divorce

I was married and divorced once. Making the decision to divorce was very hard. I struggled because I knew I was breaking up a family. But I also knew I could not stay in a relationship where I was not being fulfilled and I wasn’t happy. We tried counseling, dates, etc. but nothing changed. As much as we tried, we had grown apart and we could not get on the same page. I am not for or against divorce, but I do believe we fundamentally need to be happy.

I know that if I don’t get married again then I won’t have to go through another divorce. It was not a fun experience, and it was extremely painful. I think my experience limited my openness and trust to find another partner.

Lesson: Give your relationship all you got and try to make it work. If you and your partner can’t make it work and you aren’t happy, I doubt they are either. It takes two.

Addiction/Alcoholism

Even with the knowledge that many of my family members were alcoholics and my father even warned me about how easy it was to get hooked, I didn’t think it would happen to me — until it did. I thought I could be just a social drinker, but the more I drank the more I wanted it until it consumed me. I had to get out of the vortex. What a tough lesson this one was!

Lesson: I am an alcoholic and an addict. I cannot drink or use drugs again or I will go back down that rabbit hole and be in a horrible place. I will lose everything I have regained in my life, and I probably won’t survive another time.

Parenting

There was no handbook on the day I got each of my babies. The personality types of each of my children are as unique and different as their relationships are with me. Through the infant, child, and adolescent stages it was to learn as I go. There was purple hair, Mohawk, punk rock, Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts, parent conferences, before and afterschool care, doctors, dentists, school events, drill team, and the list goes on. I took parenting classes to try to do things right, but in the end, I still made lots of mistakes.

Lesson: Treasure your children. Time goes fast. Communicate and keep them close. Let them know they can come to you with anything, and you will help them to work it out. Allow them to grow and get out into the world even when it is scary at times. Our job is not to be their best friend but to help them grow into responsible adults.

Finances

Waiting to pay a gas bill so I can buy non-essential items isn’t the way I do things now. Years ago I used to laugh when I looked at my credit score and I’d say, “I am a slow pay but not a no pay.” Now I don’t laugh. I want good credit and I want to pay my bills on time because I’ve learned there are financial benefits.

Lesson: Pay my bills on time and my credit score improves. With a better credit score I can get better finance rates which saves me money.

Employment

I have worked since I was fifteen and I’ve had many types of jobs. Each job has been a learning experience where I have had the opportunity to learn and grow. The relationships I have with my coworkers, management and vendors is what aids me in either loving or hating my job. Because we spend a third of our life at work it’s important to find a job that we like and respect. It’s also important to have a good work-life balance. Work to live instead of live to work.

Lesson: Don’t stay at a job where there is no balance, you are unhappy and not valued. Find the job that makes you feel fulfilled. I have experienced a lot of internal growth and pride by pushing myself to be the best I can be. I want to be proud of the type of employee I am. That is important to me.

Trust

Sometimes we go through experiences that result in us having trust issues. How do we work through that?

  • I was in a car accident years ago. I was at a light, and I remember looking through my rear-view mirror and saw a car come barreling towards me. She hit the back of my car and threw me into the car in front of me. My car was totaled. For months after the accident, I flinched every time I looked into my rear-view mirror. I didn’t trust that it wouldn’t happen again.
  • When I got my divorce in 1993, I didn’t want to get married again. I put an invisible wall around myself to keep from getting hurt again. Sometimes our walls of protection can be a conscious or unconscious effort. In my case, I made a conscious effort to stay protected and save myself from the potential pain a relationship might bring. But I also didn’t allow myself to find a partner to share my life with. I didn’t want to try again because I didn’t trust there would be a different outcome.

I am still learning about invisible walls, tearing them down to try again. If we feel we are scared to do something because of an experience that hurt us, are we hurting ourselves? Missing out because of our fear and trust issues?

Thomas Jefferson said, “With great risk comes great reward.” We can use our lessons from our failures to make better future decisions.

With Every Lesson Learned There Is The Opportunity For:

  • Internal Growth
  • Becoming Wiser
  • Clearer Direction
  • Better Self-Awareness

My Journey

I matter.  I need to treat myself like I treat those I love. I need to be good inside to project good to the outside. Taking care of myself is important. Not just for me but for everyone I touch.

Low self esteem and lack of confidence takes its toll. Whether mine came from my childhood experiences, personal failures or the expectations of society, I wasn’t fully aware of my lack of confidence until I had some tough lessons to learn. That pushed me to the edge where I had to stand up for myself. I did not have to get acceptance from someone else to feel valued. I had to learn to accept myself, as I am. Whether I’ve lost weight, gained weight, or am having a tough time in my life. I am human. I am not perfect but perfect in my imperfections. I am unique. I am one-of-a-kind and I am an original. I need to honor that.

The Hamster Wheel

If I didn’t conquer a lesson or the learning objective, the same lesson would come back to me in different ways, repeatedly, until I mastered it and could get off the hamster wheel and move forward. The quicker I learned, the quicker I grew, and the quicker I could move on to something new.

Simple as that!

Forgiveness – Part Two of the Story…

Letting Go

Forgiveness is the ability to let go of a burden someone has put on your soul.  The feeling of anger and resentment can eat you up inside. It is a lot to carry indefinitely until you decide not to carry it anymore.

Forgive: (verb) To stop feeling angry or resentful towards someone.

Forgiveness: (noun) The action or process of forgiving or being forgiven.

To forgive someone does not mean you necessarily have to forget.  Forgiving allows you to free yourself from the brokenness you feel and allows you to move forward.  Whether you decide to move forward with or without that person (you have forgiven) is entirely up to you. It depends on:

  • Is it healthy to do so?
  • Do they recognize what they have done?
  • Is there a risk they will continue to hurt you?

In my lifetime I have had to deal with both sides of forgiveness.  I have had to come to terms with forgiving transgressions and violations that almost ended me.  I have also had to ask for forgiveness from the people I love and who counted on me.  Both sides of forgiveness are humbling.

From last week’s post on “Loss”, I mentioned that I had thoughts that perhaps God took my mom when she was only 60 so that I could fully fail -so that I could grow. I will dive into that story first and explain how I came to that conclusion.

Mom and Me

I believe that Mother/Daughter relationships are complicated.  Ideally, who wouldn’t want a mother who is not only a close friend, but also a trusted advisor and confidant?  Sadly, this was not the relationship that I had with my mom. Mom lost custody of me to my father when I was only eleven. Because of this, she lost valuable time with me during my adolescent years. When I became an adult, she and I were free to have the relationship we wanted without having to deal with my father. However, that relationship never developed into a positive one for either one of us. I often wonder if those lost years contributed to the critical and hurtful things, she continually said to me. She had advice and opinions on everything. She played head games and laid guilt trips on me to try to get me to do what she wanted me to do. It was suffocating. I hated the way she treated me, and I just wanted to be free.

Standing up to mom I thought I was being strong but that wasn’t true. It was just an unhealthy reaction to the way I was being treated by her. By engaging, all it did was escalate the situation. As time went on, I began to snap back at her even before she said something hurtful. She could literally say just about anything, and I would snap at her. I instinctively knew where she was going with her questions even before she got to the place to harm me verbally. When looking back at how I behaved, I know now that I could have done better.

A Toxic Relationship

Mom was my best friend and my worst enemy. I wanted to get to know her and spend time with her, but her behavior and my reaction to it became a vicious cycle. No matter if we went to play bingo, watched television, shared a meal, or did crafts together, there wasn’t a day that went by where we didn’t argue. We would quickly make up as if that was a normal part of our relationship. Then we would do it all again the very next day. This repetitive cycle went on for over 20 years. The problem was that many of these arguments included her attacking me with cruel and snide remarks.  The words she said to me were not what you would describe as normal criticism. They were well crafted damaging insults that still play in my mind like “sound bites.”

The relationship with my mom alone could fill the pages of a book. There is just too many memories and a lot of painful experiences. Here is my horrible truth—- After mom died, I felt relief! I was free for the first time in my life to make my own decisions and not hear her voice telling me what I should and should not be doing. I felt like a kid in the candy store with the whole world in front of me. Freedom for the first time in my life at the age of thirty-nine. I could make my own decisions without her judgment. Maybe it was too much freedom, and it came too fast for me.

God Took Mom So I Could Grow?

I fell apart after she died and made a lot of mistakes. But by making those mistakes I was able to find myself. That is the biggest gift I could have gotten in life. It’s hard to explain how falling to the bottom of a pit could be the ultimate gift, but it was for me. When you get to the bottom there’s only one way to go, and that’s up. I never wanted anyone to help me my entire life because I trusted no one and thought I could take care of myself. When I was at my bottom, I finally came to the realization I couldn’t help myself. And at the very moment I realized I could not do it on my own, I felt this release from within my spirit that allowed me to let others come in, pick me up and get me started on a new path.

Forgiving Mom

Of the many individuals that I have been able to forgive, mom is one of them. I came to understand how complicated our family dynamic was. How someone’s childhood experiences can shape how they deal with relationships. In retrospect I feel that mom had her own demons from her past as well as mental health issues. I’m not excusing her behavior but rather considering the explanation that she didn’t know how to communicate with me in a healthier way. Quite honestly, I didn’t know how to communicate better with her either. When working on forgiveness, I considered her childhood, her personality, her mental illness as well as my own circumstances. I was suppressing my own childhood trauma and I’m sure that was a contributing factor in how I related to her. All things considered; I was able get to the place I needed to get in order to forgive her.

Apologizing

When I think about forgiveness, I wish I could have apologized to my mom for my behavior when she was alive. I had a role in our relationship, and I take responsibility for my actions. I know that I was angry with her and angry in general. Maybe the anger stemmed from her losing custody of me and how I ended up with my father. How my life could have been different if that didn’t happen. I have expressed my sorrow to her since her death, and I believe she knows my heart and understands. I feel at peace with her, and I think mom and I are fine now.


Unloading Baggage

When dad took over custody, he abused me verbally, sexually, physically, and spiritually. When I became an adult and was able to escape that torturous environment and live on my own, I had no idea who I was.

I thought I knew. But now that I am older and can reflect on my life, I realize I always thought I knew a lot, until I knew more. When I left home, I thought I was free, but had no idea what freedom was. I had not even touched the surface on what freedom really meant for my spirit.  Back then I was oblivious to the lasting effects of child abuse. I thought the abuses that I suffered were something I could just put in a room in the back of my mind and close the door. There is a term for this.  It is to compartmentalize. This is all well and good until it resurfaces, rears its ugly head and trashes your life. The term for this is Complex-PTSD.

After mom died, I hit my rock bottom and went into recovery, I remember feeling this openness and a willingness to learn. Something I didn’t feel before. I already knew I had messed up so badly in life and I wanted to try something different. I wanted to change and was open and teachable. I found that there is no running from the past and I had to deal with things head on whenever my mind decided to throw something at me to work on.

I dealt with what occurred in my childhood by slowly peeling away layers of me, like an onion. Each layer allowed me to grow more, and I was able to discover a little more about who I was. Each layer allowed me to come to terms with my past. It helped me in the way I perceived myself, others, and the world around me.

I had people around me that cared enough to walk me into a whole new life. During my recovery I learned that in order to truly move forward I had to unload baggage – to forgive as well as to ask for forgiveness. I took responsibility for my actions during my addiction and reached out to those who I believe I needed to apologize to. It was my pursuit of freedom.

In the spirit of becoming the best version of myself, I still try to stay open and teachable so I can continue to grow. It takes a conscious effort to stay in the mindset that you are always a work in progress.

How to Forgive the Unforgivable?

Child abuse comes in different forms. I will share a part of my story where it concerns sexual abuse at the hands of my biological father.

My father began molesting me when I was six years old. By the time I was twelve he took my innocence. That is the polite way of saying he took my virginity. By the age of fifteen I had grown tired of this never-ending repetitive abuse and because I was older, stronger, and more aware of how wrong this abuse was I got brave.  I will never forget the night that my father came to my room and tried to touch me. Like every other time, it was late, where everyone in the house was asleep, including me. I woke up hearing his breathing and knew he was in my room. When he pulled the covers back and began to touch me, I yelled “No” really loud! It scared him. He was so afraid my stepmother could have heard me that he quickly exited my room. That is how I got him to stop. I continued to do this because it worked, and he eventually stopped coming to me at night.

In trying to find a way to forgive this unforgivable crime I had to dig deep. How did I come to terms of forgiving something so heinous and unforgivable? One thing that I want to make clear is that my father did acknowledge, recognize, admit, and take responsibility for what he did to me years later when I confronted him. This made the road to forgiveness a little easier for me.

All my life I had split my father into two. There was the father who was funny, smart, interesting, and charismatic and the father who was the child molester. I liked one father but hated the other. If I had to let the father I hated go, I had to let both go. Easier said than done apparently. Ending ties was a really hard thing for me to do. My father died in 2008 and I was finally free of him. There were no longer two individuals in this horrible, humiliating story.

The forgiveness wasn’t for him. It was for me. Did I want to continue to carry the resentment, pain and heartache of these memories on my back for my remaining years? No. I reflected on my father’s upbringing to try to gain some understanding. I also thought; what kind of person could do such heinous acts like this on a child? Only a very mentally sick individual. To consider he had a mentally sick mind, I found an avenue where I could process my forgiveness.


An Insult to Injury

When I met my ex-husband, I was twenty-one and he was nineteen. We had a whirlwind romance and I married him six months later. We had two children together. By our 7th year of marriage I was very unhappy. I had grown and matured, but he didn’t seem to as well. Maybe we just grew apart. I’m not sure of all the reasons, but I left him. After our divorce he was sending me $600 a month in child support. I had full custody and I worked to make ends meet. My ex-husband decided to leave the state. The child support continued for several years but when he got out of the military and found a new partner, the payments stopped. When this happened in 1999 – it happened suddenly, and I was left holding the bag. He changed his address, phone number, and essentially abandoned his children and hid. I had to figure out how to pay the rent and support the kids on my own. I took a second job; working 7 days a week and I did this for over three years. This pressure obviously contributed to my downfall. I opened a case with Children’s Services when he stopped paying child support so that they could try to locate him. What he was doing was against the law, and I was drowning. Children’s Services sent a “feeler” out every six months to see if he would surface but nothing ever came of it.

Knowing When to Say When

Part of my journey with forgiveness was to forgive my ex-husband and let go of his debt. Several years ago, I closed the child support case on him.  He owed me over $50,000. When I called Children’s Services to close the case the representative on the phone asked me if I was sure because once I closed it, I wouldn’t be able to reopen it. I told her I was sure. The reason I did that was twofold:

  1. I knew that I would never see that money. My ex-husband worked under the table to avoid being found.
  2. He hid out for years so that Children’s Services couldn’t find him. Part of closing this case was essentially also forgiving him for abandoning his children.

I remember feeling like I had him in jail and I was the one holding the key. I had just read something about resentments in a book called “As Bill Sees It” and thought about my ex-husband and the money he owed. I realized closing the case would be one of the biggest things I could let go of. I wanted to release him of the debt so he could be free, and more importantly I could be free of the resentment.

Freedom

Considering the fact that receiving that child support could have very well changed the trajectory of my life – what I felt after I closed the case was a huge surprise. I felt a weight lifted off my shoulders. It was unexpected, and I liked how it felt. That is when I truly realized that forgiveness is not for the other person; it is for your benefit. We’ve all heard that cliché before, but I’m here to tell you that when you experience it yourself – forgiveness is freeing.

Forgiving Myself

One of the most humbling experiences of my life is the forgiveness and grace I have received from my children. That unconditional love is not lost on me and I am so blessed and thankful. When I think about what I put my kids through when they were young, it is very painful. I was self-medicating – drinking, doing crystal meth, and going out to bars. I put them second in my life over my inability to deal with my past, my circumstances, alcoholism and addiction. I let them down in a very big way. I still have trouble forgiving myself for the isolation, pain, sadness, neglect, and anger they felt because of what I put them through. I think it’s harder to let go of the resentment we put on ourselves when we hurt someone we love. For me, it is easier to forgive others than for me to forgive myself.

Steps For Forgiveness

  • Apologize
  • Take Responsibility
  • Don’t Make Excuses
  • Don’t Be a Repeat Offender
  • Change

When asking for forgiveness, the biggest takeaway I learned is to not repeat what we have done. If we keep apologizing for the same things over and over, how can we ever be trusted? Work on changing. It takes time to change the default in our brain from the way we have always behaved, to a new behavior. If we are aware of what we are trying to change, we can make a conscious effort to not repeat old behaviors. Eventually we will have a new default and won’t have to consciously think about it anymore. We can grow and improve to get closer to the person we want to become.

Processing and Moving Forward

Forgiveness is an effort to let go and move forward. Allow yourself time to process the situation, to be angry upset and hurt. Reach out for help or therapy if you are struggling to cope with your resentment. Finally, allow yourself the ability to forgive. It does not mean you have to let an individual back into your life. It means you’re freeing yourself from the burden of resentment and giving yourself closure. Whether it is forgiving someone, asking for forgiveness or forgiving yourself; it may be what is necessary in order rid yourself of the anger or pain within and move on with less baggage and a healthier mindset.


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