I've been thinking about self-forgiveness lately, and I asked myself if there was anything I still needed to forgive myself for that I hadn't already. A couple of the usual memories popped up, but after examining them, I found that I no longer suffered guilt or regret because of those experiences. I had, in fact, already forgiven myself. There is a sense of calm, peace, and acceptance in that feeling of self-forgiveness.
But, then I went deeper and took the time machine back to my early adulthood, the time between 18-22. It was a time in my life when I was like a candle in the wind, always moving in the direction the wind blew. What was it that my family and society expected of me? I was overwhelmed with trying to live up to everyone's expectations. I wasn't in touch with who I truly was; I was just taking the path that a woman my age was supposed to follow. I come from a traditional family, where my mom didn't work outside the home. My dad was the breadwinner, and my mom was the homemaker. That was the example I grew up with, and that was pretty much what my parents expected me to do, too. Education wasn't a priority since I would end up being a mom and a homemaker anyway.
When I think back to those adult years, I feel a sense of remorse and guilt mainly for letting myself down. (For all you young women reading this, PAY ATTENTION HERE!) I didn't listen to my inner voice when it was telling me to finish college first before I became a flight attendant. I didn't listen to my inner voice when it was telling me not to marry so young. As a matter of fact, I drowned out my inner voice because I was afraid I'd miss the opportunity to find a husband (what a traditional thought!). We women have been taught to listen to the man in our life and not our intuition. I didn't listen to my inner voice when it was telling me that he was the wrong man. I didn't listen to my inner voice when it was telling me that if he abused me verbally, mentally and emotionally before we got married, how was it going to be once we tied the knot? I didn't listen to my inner voice when it was telling me not to give up my job and become financially dependent on my husband. I didn't listen to my inner voice when it nudged me to remind me that I was doing everything possible to get myself mired in a very entangled and dependent situation from which it would take years to extricate myself.
In hindsight, I can say I wish I had been a stronger person, with more self-confidence, and a clearer sense of self-identity. Then, I wouldn't have felt a need to marry so early, and I would have given myself more time to discover my strengths. 20/20 hindsight is always perfect, and we always know better afterwards, don't we? We berate ourselves for years and years, shaming ourselves for having been so weak and stupid. But we don't have that perfect sight when we are acting in that moment. We are always doing the best we can from the level of consciousness that we're at. Later, when we have grown and changed, we can do better. So, it's unfair to beat ourselves up for something from the past that we regret.
So, yes, there is still something I need to forgive myself for. I feel a strong sense of regret that in my early adulthood, I was not at all in tune with myself. I know that in following my gut instinct, I could have avoided being trapped in a 25-year-long abusive marriage. In my recent introspection, I needed a while to tap into this very old, stuck energy inside of me. I'm not a person who normally dwells on the past, so I had to make a real effort to dig up these regrets of long ago.
When I think of it, I play the scene over and over again in my mind, judging myself and declaring myself guilty for not paying attention to my intuition. I am now processing my self-forgiveness and releasing myself from the shame and guilt that keeps the past energy stuck in me. I need to move on and release those negative vibes that do not serve me in any way.
When we release the old, stuck energy of judgement, shame, and regret through self-forgiveness, we free ourselves to become more compassionate, which sends a ripple effect out to everyone in our life.