Editorial: The Policies of Starting Over – Forgiving Yourself

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I have never been able to see the forest from the trees. At 5’2, I have needed to stand on my toes to see the top of most things for as long as I can remember, and it seems life often travels the same direction. One of my closest friends in the world still calls me ‘oblivious,’ in the kindest way possible, of course. This is to say that, if life is a traffic light, then I manage to miss most of the signals that would normally tell me to turn the other direction. 

The number of situations that I have gotten myself into because I ignored the details is unbelievable. Things that should have been obvious just flew under my radar. I let myself become colorblind in the face of every red flag, and that in itself is an incredibly difficult thing to confront.  

Once we acknowledge that we have been refusing to see the issues, rather than unintentionally missing them all, we have little choice but to either approach the problem with the intent of resolution, or we slip back into the relentless cycle of willing ignorance. So, what happens next? 

In my experience, when you choose to act, suddenly, the red flags come back far more vibrant, more scarlet than crimson. As reality sets in, it’s a feeling similar to waking up from a dream you cannot really remember. There are flashes, you might hear variations of the story, but you may never completely understand what happened here, although you were once a star of the show.  

As I have mentioned before, I once got to a point where I avoided mirrors because I did not recognize myself anymore, but once I ‘woke up’, the only thing I felt for the woman in the mirror was anger. I hated her for allowing me to find myself here, only to have no choice but to come to terms with the fact that I was so vehemently angry with my own reflection.  

It is normal to be angry when you look up for the first time in forever, and you feel heartbroken at where you find yourself. It is OK to feel sad or hurt at first, and it is all right to feel angry with yourself, so long as you keep moving. The shame of meeting your rock bottom can be heavy enough to hold you there like gravity. And if you let it, it will.  

Guilt and self-blame grow as quickly as Kudzu in the last breath of summer and are thrice as deadly. If you are not careful, you will find the vines winding across your ankles, leaving you with no place left to run. You have to run. When the anger and grief come, they will begin to grow around you. These grow at a crawl, softly stoked, but always reaching.  

The only way out, is through—and the only way through, is by forgiving yourself for getting lost here in the first place. When you stay angry and you never allow your emotions to recover from their furious boil, it will turn your heart. It will change the way you give and accept kindness and love, robbing you of any sense of familiarity within the word ‘joy’. This is not where you, or I, were ever meant to end up, even if the way we got here was only by walking backward.  

You took a wrong turn, you missed the right exit, and, yeah, it is frustrating to have to take so many steps back just for the opportunity to begin all over again, but if you are starting from the mindset of change, then you won’t find yourself at rock bottom. You are beginning from experience. You are worth more than all the cruel things you have ever allowed your heart to believe about yourself in the light of your mistakes.  

Making peace from pain is never easy, but it is possibly the most crucial step of beginning again. When you do not feel like you deserve forgiveness, forgive anyways. Grace is one of those things, you know, when you feel like you have given everything, give a little more. When the dust settles and the storms do finally pass, the next adventure could be the best yet. And don’t you know what they say about adventures? The more daunting that first step is, the more worth it everything is that happens after. So, when it is time, and you have learned to love the scars on your heart for the treasure map they have become, take a deep breath, and prepare for the next green light. 

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