As difficult as it is to truly forgive someone who has deeply hurt you, I think it is equally challenging to forgive yourself.
Maybe you are not like me, but then again . . . maybe you are the same as me. And if you are, then you have caused more hurt, more grief, more failure, more frustration, more tragedy in your own life than anyone else could ever live long enough to cause. You are, after all (as has been said by many through the years) “your own worst enemy,” are you not?
Can you let that go? Can you forgive yourself?
I might be wrong about this, but I suspect that those who have the most trouble forgiving others (i.e. letting go) have equal trouble forgiving themselves. The bottom line is this: we don’t easily LET GO of anything.
As they used to say in 12 Steps groups, “everything I let go of has scratch marks on it.”
We do not want to let others (who have caused us offense) off the hook; and we do not want to let our own selves off the hook. Now, why is that?
In my past life I sometimes made an occupation out of keeping track of the offenses of others (often my wife); this seemed useful for it provided me with fuel and fodder to use at a time of my choosing. [This assumes, of course, that I view my life like a safari wherein I am the hunted prey. If I play my cards right, I suspect there will come a time of reckoning where I can display my horded evidence, and thereby turn the tables (so to speak)].
At that point, the hunted will become the hunter; my revenge will be complete.
It sort of makes sense. In a sick and vindictive kind of way.
But why would I avoid forgiving my own self? What is there to gain?
Forgiveness grants freedom, doesn’t it? When I forgive another for the wrong they have done to me, I FREE them. They are absolved. There is no more debt to be paid, no more acquittal necessary, no further discharge required.
A forgiven person is no longer on a leash (so to speak); they owe me nothing. And I am no longer leashed TO them (for you see, we stay connected with that other person until we let them go).
I wonder . . . I just wonder . . . if I am reluctant to let myself off the hook, take myself off the leash . . . because I do not trust myself with the freedom that would result. After all, servitude, self-deprecation, confinement of spirit – all of these serve a purpose: they keep me safe from the responsibility that freedom requires.
And so, in a way, I am afraid of my own joy. I choose to live in the prison of perpetual debt, rather than in the open countryside of freedom. I choose pain over the absence of pain.
There is no safari.
I am not being hunted, nor are you.
Forgiveness begins with me and you; it flows outward from there to others.
I cannot truly grant it to others until I grant it to myself. I forgive me!