How Writing My Memoir Helped Me Find Self-Forgiveness
Once you choose hope, anything is possible." Christopher Reeves
I never really thought writing the stories of my life would be so complicated but I will tell you honestly—as I kept writing, I felt like I was standing knee-deep in a swamp trying to avoid the alligators. I wanted to circumvent the swamp, linger along the edges so I didn't have to get in there and wrestle those beasts. There. I said it.
As my memoir, Ever Faithful to His Lead: My Journey Away From Emotional Abuse, began taking shape, it became clear to me how guilt and shame had haunted me for the twenty-five years I was mired in the cycle of abuse. The guilt and shame related to the self-defeating detours I took as a young woman and the harmful ways these detours impacted my life and the lives of my two children. I had to grieve those lost dreams and poor choices.
The main message underlying my memoir is the power of hope in facing life challenges. Hope has helped me transcend every obstacle and crisis that has come my way. Give me a diagnosis of Stage Four NonHodgkins' Lymphoma and I'll wrestle it to the ground with the tenacity and fury of a pit bull. Put me in a marriage that is not working and after careful thought, I'll pack up two babies and start a new life. Just give me anything that seems insurmountable and I'll do everything in my power to prove you wrong. I will fight with everything in me to overcome it.
But if you asked me to forgive myself for the mistakes, poor choices, hasty decisions of my past, I would balk and feel mired in the guilt, shame, regret of lost dreams and what if's…
This post at authentic-self.com about giving yourself the gift of forgiveness rang true for me: "You only need to spend some time thinking over the things you feel badly about, thank God (or your Higher Power) for allowing you to see that you are, in fact, imperfect and there will be times you mess up.
I had to apologize to Yourself and let go.
So, boots on, I was on a mission to trudge forward through the swampland of alligators--my past regrets, with a little help from my friends, Linda Joy Myers and my fellow NAMW memoir writers. One week they challenged me to find a way to forgive the young woman who made all those decisions as it appeared to them through my stories that I was being judgmental of her choices and actions. So, for starters, I decided to have a little chat with my Inner Judge:
The Judge and the 24-year-old Me
Judge (sitting all high & mighty on the bench, looking down): I see you have committed the most heinous crime, hastily deciding to blah,blah,blah....
24-year-old Me (head down): Yes, Your Honor, you are right.
Judge: What ever possessed you to make such foolhardy choices?
24-year-old Me: I thought it was the right decision at the time. I just wanted to be happy like everyone else. I was only trying to fit in.
Judge: (slamming the gavel down) Guilty as charged. You are hereby sentenced to a lifetime of regret, lost dreams, guilt for making these choices.
Fast forward to now~
The Now Me: (looking the Judge straight in the eye while standing toe-to-toe)You were wrong. I am working on forgiving myself. I've learned from my mistakes. Despite it all, I have moved on to live a life of joy. I stand in my truth. Those alligators are really just harmless frogs jumping around.
Judge (caught off-guard and stammering, shrinking right before my eyes): But, I am the ultimate judge and jury here.
The Now Me (by now, looking down on the Judge): If you play your cards right, I may even be able to forgive you.
Soon, I was ready to get back to writing my story. I became ready to begin shedding the blame the fear, the regrets and stand in my truth. It took some practice but the self-forgiveness had begun.
And, as always, with hope, anything is possible...
Like any skill that gets better with practice, the self-forgiveness has taken hold in my soul. Writing Ever Faithful to His Lead has helped me to face the errors of my ways and take responsibility for my choices. It has helped me to heal and move on.
Writing my memoir has helped me to not only forgive the people in my life whom I perceived to have hurt me, but to forgive myself. This has freed me to live the life I am living now—one of joy and peace.
My greatest wish is that others may find their own pathway to forgiveness through my story.
How about you~ Have you given yourself the gift of self-forgiveness?
If you enjoyed Kathleen's post here, you may want to visit her blog: http://krpooler.com.
Ever Faithful To His Lead:
My Journey to Memoir
is available as an
e-book and paperback