I know when I’m at my best, or at least when I’m proud of how I feel. I know when it’s time for important lessons despite begrudgingly accepting the fate of pain and sometimes regret or remorse (both quite toxic feelings). I know when I’m in a vulnerable place regardless of temptation. Batting its seductive eyes and puckering its irresistible lips. I know. Which is why I’m writing this.
Before I go on more about what I know I will first admit to the thousands of things I do not know. In summary, I do not know what tomorrow may bring, I do not know who my soul mate is or if I’ll ever meet him (or if I did already), I do not know if I’m doing right by my life, my children or my career 100% of the time – basically I don’t know way more than I know but I have come to some very clear understandings thus far. If nothing at all, I’ve arrived at some bigger questions.
I’m 38. I’ve been here a little while. I’ve been here long enough to make a lot of mistakes and see myself in action. I’m not sure I could have said the same thing when I was 18 or even 28. Humility, like fine wine, also comes with age. With that, we’re granted more leeway to say with conviction what we really get and what we’re still figuring out.
I’m a believer that we’re all here to change and that despite our stubbornness, most of us change regardless of desire or will. Some of us more, some of us WAY less. Just look at the news. Most is sad, shocking and based on utter ignorance.
I woke up today and thought to myself after months of processing some age-old resentments that forgiveness is beginning to feel like a crutch.
If I’m using forgiveness as a cop out to continue doing the same self sabotage-y behaviors than I should know better than to lean on the kind of self help tool that continues to bail me out of taking greater responsibility.
I’ll try and lay this out simply and in context:
Let’s say you’ve been drinking alcohol since your early 20’s. In America that is quite common. We turn 21. We now drink booze because quite frankly we can and there’s no other concrete reason why (fun aside). Whether it’s on the weekends or more frequently, let’s imagine that you drink alcohol and come to the realization that:
- alcohol makes you feel shitty
- alcohol makes you say stupid things
- alcohol makes you do stupid things
- alcohol makes you regret
- alcohol makes you eat horribly the night of and the day after
- alcohol puts you in overall danger
- alcohol whether used in safe amounts or in exorbitant amounts, leaves you wondering why you drink – like, ever.
- alcohol makes your thinking fuzzy and thoughts less clear
- alcohol makes your emotions heightened and exacerbated the next day
- alcohol puts the man or woman you’re dating in different perspective
Bonus, #11. Drunk sex is horrible. You wake up naked hoping you enjoyed what was meant to feel good, pleasurable, intimate and connected then wonder if you need the Plan B. Jesus. If for no other reason…
So let’s look at this scenario. Let’s say you’re now in your early 40’s and you’ve taken some big enough breaks without alcohol to know what feeling great is really all about but you continue to use alcohol for reprieve every now and again (like, every weekend or at least 2-3 x a month. This would be considered moderate drinking). Every time you drink you think, “hm, was it worth it?”
And this is where we lean on forgiveness. If we’re bright, conscious, evolved or cultured enough to forgive in times when we’d otherwise berate ourselves, we’d say, “well I forgive you so let’s just move on from it.” A week later we’re granted another opportunity to make a choice – to drink or not to drink – and we choose the drink despite knowing better with the caveat that we’ll apply the same ration of forgiveness we did the week prior. And the cycle continues. “It’s okay because I’ll forgive myself.” Subconscious or not. The excuse to continue doing what doesn’t make us feel good continues. The excuse to not take responsibility for a better tomorrow persists.
Now replace alcohol with:
→ binging, dipping into your savings, continuing the relationship with the guy/girl who hurts you or any number of patterns that cause you to betray yourself. We repeat cliché adages like, “just trust yourself!” and, “trust your body!” when in truth, you’ve been lying to yourself and your body for as long as you can remember. We trust ourselves that we’ll betray our well intentioned plans more than we’ll actually follow through with them. Subconscious or not. What’s trust if we don’t have any? What’s trust if you’ve continually made promises you yourself can’t keep. An even bigger question,
what’s our relationship to God, Spirit or Source if we continually rely on them to remove what we repeatedly replace with the same substance, person or object?
I’m not agnostic. I very much believe in source and believe that source is inside all of us. I believe we’re here to live our best, do our best and continue getting better. I believe we’re creatures of habit and I believe we’re profoundly intelligent – so intelligent that we know how to lie to ourselves so slyly that we don’t even know we’re doing it. I believe we’ll do anything, at least for a while, to avoid taking responsibly for making hard changes.
Still with me? Cool.
So here we are. May I ask, what is the one thing you continually do to take the least responsibility? For me, and for the LONGEST time, I took very little responsibility for the money I needed to work for to live a financially stable life. For me and for the LONGEST time, I took very little responsibility for the freedom I needed to hone outside the binds of hurtful and manipulative relationships. For me, and for the LONGEST time, I replaced action with forgiveness. I ate, drank, abused, abandoned and neglected myself because I thought I was the only one in charge. For the LONGEST time I used forgiveness as a cop out. And guess what?
I realized, forgiveness isn’t my job. Forgiveness is something I needed to surrender – not hone. Forgiveness is not something I am here to perfect, it’s something I give away control of. It’s one of the few things I release personal ownership of.
Forgiveness is sacred.
When we repeatedly exercise behaviors that we know cause us pain despite the temporary joy, satisfaction or pleasure it may bring us and then lean on forgiveness to save us the next day we are not doing each other any favors. And we are here, at least for now, for each other. We’re here to be better together. We’re here to fulfill the potential God gave us. We’re here now to do our best, not to relinquish tomorrow but to relish in the best tomorrow we can create.
Forgiveness is important – yes – but for 20 years I’ve assumed forgiveness would remove the pain, trauma and resentments from the box I always hate to open. The box is a past I cannot bare but am forced to open every single time I betray myself. Every time I lie to myself and don’t meet myself where I’ve grown, I sit next to the box, key in hand and I’m forced to open it. How do I know this? I’ve watched myself do it – over and over and over again assuming that my box, full of my past, will have emptied itself. Yet therein lies the truth.
I believe self compassion is useful when we’re hard on ourselves. I believe we deserve affirmations of greatness and positivity. I believe being kind to ourselves perpetuates more kindness. I believe forgiveness is essential. However, I do not believe that it behooves us to continue overcompensating for the self doubt that disguises itself in achievements and accolades. Or for the self doubt that convinces us that repeating old behaviors for the false promise of a new outcome will somehow grant us more confidence.
The truth is. This box you and I both hold – full of fears, wounds, betrayal and sadness…It keeps getting reopened and reopened and we continue to dwell on our injustices years and sometimes decades after the hurtful event even took place. The box is there but it’s optional as to when it gets opened. Self forgiveness is as much a deterrent as we’ve become dependent on it for survival. You’ll see. You’ll see 10-15-20 years go by and all the forgiveness you applied to yourself and wonder why the same pain lurks it’s head when you’ve made yourself vulnerable enough. You’ll wonder why TF a behavior you’ve so steadily forgiven continues to rob your life of peace. You’ll see.
Shame into submission
I’m being bold because this is my blog and until I’m censored I get to be.
Forgiveness keeps us in a self imposed jail.
I think that as hard as we are on ourselves, we’re not hard enough and we’re tough in all the wrong places. I’m hard on myself and up until recently I forgave myself every time I did something I didn’t like. Self forgiveness works for a couple years and then life gets wasted on it.
Because forgiveness is something we give to God and action is something we rein.
I’m not saying don’t forgive yourself. I’m saying stop assuming it’s your job. Until we realize it’s not our job to forgive, I believe the self sabotage continues. I’ve watched people I love do it. I’ve watched myself do it.
So, if I might ask again – what is the one thing you continually do to take the least responsibility? It may come down to your job, your health, your family, your wealth. What’s the one thing you continually do that disappoints you? That’s a better way of putting it.
If you’re waking up day after day “forgiving yourself” for what you didn’t do that you said you would – how is that working for you?
I bet it’s not. Or at least it’s working against you.
It’s the New Moon and it’s time to make hard changes.
It’s time to give it to God, Gaia, Spirit, Source or whomever/whatever and take action. Even now. Especially in these times when there’s more uncertainty than ever. Every time that box gets reopened we need to ask what we’re doing to betray ourselves. What’s the lie we keep telling? What’s the behavior we keep repeating? Until then, we’ll wade in the past and never or at least VERY very slowly move forward. Because change is at least inevitable. And we’ve relied on the world turning as a means to take less ownership. There’s so much that’s out of our control, but not everything.
When we know better we need to do better and if that isn’t happening then we need to change who’s involved. We’re sorely mistaken if we think we’re alone in our loneliness. Invoke what’s bigger, more powerful than the ego and give it to what’s greater. Once we do that then we can take the next best step in the direction we want to go.
What does this look like in action?
– envision the behavior you wish to change – decide whether it’s impacted your life negatively enough or if you still need to learn from it – depending on the answer either give it to God or take responsibility and accept that you may very well experience the contents of your box – repeat ad nauseam until you relent to surrender the forgiveness you so dangerously depend on and choose action instead.
Simple right? Barely easy.
You’re so loved,