Article: How to Forgive Yourself

Well, how appropriate to go from being asked to speak on the power of appreciation for this fantastic telesummit, to telling you about this past month that turned my world over as if everything was being pushed and pulled in a washing machine. Yup-that was my month. I’m going to tell you why I’m so grateful for the discomfort and fears that came up and yes, self-loathing and shame that surfaced and how you too can apply the same principles and tools that I did to forgive yourself and move into appreciation and acceptance of what is.
About 3 weeks ago my partner of 10 years revealed to me a few things that made me feel like I couldn’t breathe. Did you ever get new information that you just didn’t know what to do with? Too scared to move and yet too unhappy to stay in the same place. You know what I mean.
Well, I knew inaction was not even a possibility. I went into having to take care of EVERYTHING mode. The first step–I had to reach out to her family for help. I tried to be balanced in my plea for support. I knew not to judge anyone for their lack of knowing what was truly going on or getting involved because my partner had put up a good front, as did I.
She has been struggling chronically with an auto-immune condition that has become the norm in our home. There’s many things she can’t do physical although she was once an athlete and there’s a slew of other challenges that I won’t go into here. The thing that broke the camel’s back was her need for emergency surgery. She had hid it from ME because she didn’t want to burden me.I was soon to find out why she hid it from her family.
The plea to her family for support came after Dayna and I watched the powerful documentary called So Much So Fast about a 29 year old man who was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease. It documents how the family came together to do fundraisers¬† and to start a foundation to find a cure and compassionately shows the loving bond of the family members.
I believed that together with her family we could make this a world that Dayna wanted to continue living in.
A funny thing happened. The first two calls we received were anything but filled with compassion for our plight. Although we understood (through all the self-help work we’ve done) that these family members were doing the best they could it didn’t stop their judgments of us from hurting. “I always took care of myself. I never had to ask for anything from anyone,” was one condemnation. “Go get a 50 hour a week job in corporate America that will pay your bills and move to a small town.” Well-meaning advice (I suppose) instead of asking us what we really needed in this hour of crisis.
If the person saying get a job had a job to offer with the salary he was claiming-well-then maybe I wouldn’t have seen it as him judging my choices. If the family member who said she always paid for everything by herself went on to say, “But I understand health care costs have gone crazy and it’s a different world now and I didn’t realize how much money you’ve paid on alternative therapies to heal your auto-immune condition” then my heart would have expanded instead of contracting and feeling alone.
I finally got why my partner¬† would rather give up this life then ask her family for help. I couldn’t stop crying. Then I got mad at them and then I allowed their judgments to seep in and poison my beliefs about myself.
I went through a list of regrets about investments gone wrong, choices I should have made..blah, blah, blah. By the way-it’s hard to create anything positive from this place.
The next two calls came from family members who were loving and kind and compassionate. They actually asked how we were doing. Their kindness allowed me and Dayna to tap back into Truth. Everything happens for a reason. Everything is in perfect order. The judgments I felt from those family members were just my own judgments against myself projected out onto them. If I didn’t believe those judgments then the hurt would not have cut so deep.
So my opportunity was to look at those judgments, forgive myself for thinking my life and where I am in it should be any different then it is now, love those part inside me that hurt and make choices from this place of self-love. Oh-and to learn that it is okay to ask for help.
Everyone can have an opinion. People can choose to help or decline. No one owes me anything as I owe nothing to anyone either. And I also want to live in a world, surrounded by friends and people that support each other compassionately and with kindness-whatever that looks like. Sometimes it is a kind word, sometimes it is a donation, sometimes it is an idea, a gift and sometimes it is a space donated for the purpose of raising money and awareness-in this case for Dayna’s health.
From a place of an open-heart and self-love and love for others, anything is possible.
That is where I choose to live from. I’ve spent years volunteering and I realize that in addition to giving it is now time for me to open up and receive good. I was rather surprised to see how small the opening in my life for that had been.
So I thank my ‘stackers’ as my teachers at The University of Santa Monica would say. The upset created by them and the crisis with my partner’s health and well-being has led me to another layer of forgiveness for myself and another layer of acceptance of others.
In appreciation for it all,
Brenda