Forgiveness


I will be the first to admit that forgiveness is not instilled in my nature. I held a grudge against my middle school principle for years for making me write an apology letter in which, coincidentally, I had to ask my aggressor for forgiveness. I mean, I hated her even after she had left the school board. Over disciplinary action that I knew, someplace buried deep within in my preteen mind, I deserved (there was injustice here to be sure, but I can see how easily the he-said she-said could have left me looking guiltier).

And as much as it shames me to say it, this grudge-holding, vengeful nature didn't disappear as I became older and wiser. I still kept more tallies of wrongs than rights. In the earlier years of our relationship and marriage, I would hold on to the pain from fights Rob and I had, even though they were few and far between. I would struggle with forgiving him, even though his mistakes were minor. Even though my poor communication skills probably held more blame than his actions. Forgiveness just doesn't come easy for me.

Especially when it comes to forgiving myself.

My default when things go wrong is to blame myself and subsequently to get angry and begrudging over my failings. This has been true all my life.

I cannot clearly remember any of my dance recitals except the one where I made one wrong move and came home crying and gorged myself on McDonald's apple pie. I cannot remember any of the times I first landed a difficult move in gymnastics, but I remember falling off the beam during a routine and hating myself for it. I cook like a champion, but one ruined dish will have me cursing like a sailor and berating myself while throwing dishes in the sink.

It doesn't matter that I've done many things right; I always hone in on the wrong.

Nowhere has this been more debilitating than in my journey through motherhood. You know how many days go by without making a single mistake as a parent? Zero. You know how many days go by with less than twenty things going wrong? Next to zero. Think I was ready for that when Lucas came along? Not a chance.

This lack of forgiveness for myself factored heavily into my postpartum depression. It fostered an inability to recover from mistakes, of which there are many when you're navigating through the difficult, ever-changing phases of infancy. A difficult feed in the morning could darken my whole day. And if I lost my temper and yelled (yes, it happened, and the thought of it makes me cringe), forget about it, I was ruined. I had no reset button; I just spiraled from the moment of my first misstep each day.

I still struggle with forgiving myself for all the mistakes I made in the past. There's a lot of pain there still. A lot of reparations I feel I owe to my family. Forgiveness still doesn't come easily, but I'm getting there, slowly but surely.

More importantly, though, I am learning to forgive myself for all the mistakes I am going to make. I am learning to hit that reset button when we have a rough morning. I am moving forward without hating myself. I can say to myself, "it's okay," when something goes wrong. I can forgive. For the little things and the not so little things. For the mistakes I made two years ago, for the mistakes I made this morning. I am beginning to find peace.

I am forgiven.

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