“When a deep injury is done us, we never recover until we forgive”
This week the topic for the Weight Watchers meeting is “Emotional Eating”, how to deal with our emotions without turning to food. When I prepare a topic, I first turn inward and see how I relate to the matter at hand, and then I turn it back to the members. This one is always a little bit difficult for me. Sure I have come a long way, I no longer deal with my feelings with a Costco-sized bag of Cheetos every night, but something doesn’t seem to quite fit yet.
I spent years trying to numb myself by any means possible; acting like nothing could ever affect me. I was strong, invincible, untouchable no matter what life would throw my way it would not stop me. I would not even flinch! Of course that never last, sooner or later the system overloads and crashes. Like many before me, I crashed. Not a fun way to spend your time.
At that point my life took a sharp turn. The relationship I was in ended, a new one started, school finished and I moved from the Atlantic coast to the Pacific. In the mist of all this I decided to take myself in hand physically and mentally. Shaping up physically is easy, eat right, move more, there you go! Mentally, well, it’s a little more complicated. I have passed many fences, but am I there yet?
I have learned that I don’t have to be strong all the time, that it’s OK to be sad, frustrated, and angry even. I discovered that owning those feelings and expressing them is not a show of weakness, but a step toward greater strength. I have seen that any weakness I have is just a sign of my humanity, not a proof that I’m worthless. I even managed to find strengths in me that surprised me.
I learned all that and yet something is missing. I’m not hiding from my emotions anymore, but how do I let them go? How can I look back and think about past relationship without a tear coming to my eye? How can I think of old mistakes and not feel angry and embarrassed all over again? How can I avoid having the past limit my future?
A friend of mine, Susan Barnes, is writing a blog called To Kiss A Mezuzah and today her post was about Confession and Forgiveness. It made me think: I admitted my wrongs, I faced off with my feelings, but did I ever forgive myself?
I learned to live with myself, I forgave those I felt had push me along on my path of self destruction, but I never stopped to forgive myself. Even now I’m reticent to do so. All sort of things come to mind and none of them sound very forgiving. Why should I forgive myself? I messed up; if I hadn’t been such an idiot I’d have a career by now, a PhD maybe. I missed so many opportunities just because I didn’t do the right thing, because I didn’t make the right choices. How dumb, my life could have been so much better… really? How so? What would I have then I don’t have now? What possibilities would be open to me that aren’t open now?
Thinking about it, not forgiving myself is taking the easy way out. It is giving me an excuse to fail. By hanging on to all that baggage, I’m permitting myself to flake and blame it on “my past”. My struggles are due to what happened then, not what I’m doing now… right? How convenient!
Ok, so where does that lead me? To this:
I accept my past, but I refuse to let it define me. I acknowledge it, but will no longer wear it as a badge, silent witness of my true self. It just isn’t me anymore. I did stupid things, I lived difficult times, but it’s all over and done with. I am not denying any of it, but I’m forgiving myself for it. It’s time to move on, seriously.
My, my… another fence!